Ahead of Labor Day, unions representing millions across several working-class sectors are threatening to authorize work stoppages in support of the Black Lives Matter movement amid calls for concrete measures that address racial injustice. In a statement first shared with the AP, labor leaders who represent teachers, autoworkers, truck drivers, and clerical staff, among others, signaled a willingness Friday to escalate protest tactics to force local and federal lawmakers to take action on policing reform and systemic racism. They said the walkouts would last for as long as needed. "The status quo—of police killing Black people, of armed white nationalists killing demonstrators, of millions sick and increasingly desperate—is clearly unjust, and it cannot continue," the statement says.
It was signed by several branches of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the Service Employees International Union, and affiliates of the National Education Association. The broader labor movement has been vocal since the May 25 killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died when a white police officer pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for nearly eight minutes during an arrest. The death of Floyd in Minneapolis set off an unprecedented surge of protests and unrest from coast to coast this summer. In July, organized labor staged a daylong strike with workers from the service industry, fast-food chains and the gig economy to call out the lack of coronavirus pandemic protections for essential workers, who are disproportionately Black and Hispanic.
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