Socialist Worker

US ‘Strike for black lives’ called as details emerge of George Floyd’s killing

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2713

The Black Lives Matter movement has inspired people in Britain

The Black Lives Matter movement has inspired people in Britain (Pic: Guy Smallman)


A coalition of trade unions and campaign groups in the US is organising a “strike for black lives,” set for Monday 20 July.

Tens of thousands of fast food, ride-share, nursing home and airport workers in more than 25 cities are set to strike for a full day. Others will stage a walkout for eight minutes—the amount of time police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck during the arrest that killed him.

The national strike will also involve marches led by workers.

Strike organisers are demanding action by bosses and the government against systematic racism that fuels poverty for black people. Organisers say black people make up a disproportionate number of those who earn less than a living wage.

They are also demanding guaranteed sick pay, affordable health care and better safety measures for workers forced to work during the coronavirus pandemic.

Movement for Black Lives—a coalition of organisations involved in the Black Lives Matter movement—is also involved.

Unions involved in the strike include the SEIU, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the American Federation of Teamsters and United Farm Workers.

Organiser Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson said corporations “claim to support black lives. But their business model functions by exploiting black labour—passing off pennies as ‘living wages’ and pretending to be shocked when Covid-19 sickens those black people who make up their essential workers.

“Corporate power is a threat to racial justice, and the only way to usher in a new economy is by tackling those forces that aren't fully committed to dismantling racism.”

Racism

Nursing home worker Trece Andrews said she felt racism was to blame for why she has spent years being passed over for promotions.

“I've got 20 years in the game and I'm only at $15.81 (£12.50) per hour,” she said. “We've got the coronavirus going on, plus we've got this thing with racism going on. They're tied together, like some type of segregation.”

The call for a strike came as evidence submitted to the trial for the murder of Floyd revealed horrifying new details about his final moments.

Audio recorded on a police officer’s body camera reveals that Floyd pleaded, “They’ll kill me, they’ll kill me” and cried out for his mother and children.

The transcript of the recording covers the moments before and during Floyd’s arrest. It includes the time he is pinned to the ground with officer Derek Chauvin’s knee on his neck.

In the transcript, a frightened Floyd pleads, “Please don’t shoot me,” and “I’m sorry” as police officer Thomas Lane approaches him with a gun in his hand.

Later, officers try to force Floyd into the back of a police car, as he panics and tells them, “I’m claustrophobic,” and, “I’m not resisting.”

On the ground Floyd tells Chauvin, “You’re going to kill me.”

Chauvin replies, “Then stop talking, stop yelling, it takes a heck of a lot of oxygen to talk.”


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