Thousands of workers, including employees working at top quick-service chains across the U.S., were expected to walk off their jobs Monday to support the end of systemic racism and to remember Black people killed by police including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Elijah McClain.
The #StrikeForBlackLives protest was to last 8 minutes, 46 seconds, the amount of time a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck. More than 50 groups coordinated the event, including several that represent foodservice and agricultural workers, such as Fight for $15 and a Union, United Farm Workers and United Food and Commercial Workers.
Fight for $15, an advocacy group for fast-food workers seeking a living wage, has specifically gone after McDonald’s in recent tweets.
McDonald’s workers in Ferguson, Mo., and Detroit were scheduled to participate in the protests.
“Companies like McDonald’s cannot on the one hand tweet that ‘Black Lives Matter’ and on the other pay us poverty wages and fail to provide sick days and adequate PPE,” Angely Rodriguez Lambert, an Oakland McDonald’s worker and Fight for $15 leader, said in a statement. “We’re going on strike because McDonald’s and other fast-food companies have failed to protect us in a pandemic that has ravaged Black and brown communities across the country. We’re going to keep joining together and speaking out until McDonald’s and other companies respond with actions that show they really value our lives.”
McDonald’s USA said the Chicago-based chain “unequivocally supports the need for racial equality and social justice and stands with Black communities across the globe.”
“We are proud to offer employment opportunities and learn from our team members to make the McDonald’s System stronger. We believe Black lives matter, and it is our responsibility to continue to listen and learn and push for a more equitable and inclusive society,” the company said in a statement.
Those walking out spelled out a list of key demands, including justice for Black communities; equal treatment when it comes to wages and better jobs; health and safety protections for all workers; protection to ensure fair and safe in-person voting or mail-in practices to ensure everyone can fully participate; ample personal protective equipment (PPE) for workers; and overall economic security by ensuring access to healthcare and a living wage.
“Every worker in America must have the freedom that comes from economic security and equity in opportunity,” organizers said. “We demand the immediate implementation of a $15/hour minimum wage, fully-funded healthcare coverage and paid sick leave for all.”
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