Above: On July, 20, 2020, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85, Pittsburgh, stood in solidarity with fellow unions and community activists at the #StrikeforBlackLives rally to demand racial and economic justice. Source: ATU International.

On July 21, the Labor Network for Sustainability joined more than fifty unions, civil rights organizations, environmental groups, and others in the first Strike for Black Lives. Lead organizers of the action were the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL).

Unions participating included:

  • Service Employees International Union
  • International Brotherhood of Teamsters
  • American Federation of Teachers
  • United Farm Workers
  • United Food and Commercial Workers
  • Communication Workers of America
  • National Domestic Workers Alliance
  • Amalgamated Transit Union
  • Fight for $15 and a Union
  • New York State Nurses Association

SEIU president Mary Kay Henry and M4BL national field director Karissa Lewis explained “Why We’re Striking”:

The current pandemic of Covid-19 and the generational pandemic of violence against Black lives have brought some truths into sharp relief. As tens of millions of people have worked without personal protective equipment or paid sick time, it has become clear to us all: Workers, those we have recently taken to calling “essential,” are the cornerstone of our social and economic well-being. These are disproportionately Black and brown workers.  As we enter further and further into an economic depression, it’s become clear that for so many communities, it is time to take action that pushes elected officials and CEOs to dismantle racism and white supremacy in the workplace. Our fights for racial, economic, health care, gender, climate, and immigration justice are all connected. We are connected, as well.

Labor Network for Sustainability Research and Policy Director and labor historian Jeremy Brecher wrote:

Not only is a huge union putting its muscle behind Black Lives Matter, but also promoting workers workplace power as a vehicle for political action through an enlarged concept of strikes and general strikes. With climate such a “clear and present danger” to Black people, and so many Black trade unionists concerned about it, the Strike for Black Lives calls attention to climate change as a threat to Black people—and to the cooperation between Black people, labor, and allies that is already under way to fight it.

Watch the Strike for Black Lives livestream.