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Strike for Black Lives

On July 20, workers across the country plan to walk off the job as part of the #StrikeForBlackLives. This strike is organized by the Movement for Black Lives (“M4BL”) and a coalition of unions including, among others, the Service Employees International Union (“SEIU”), International Brotherhood of Teamsters (“IBT”), American Federation of Teachers (“AFT”), and United Farm Workers (“UFW”).

This strike is planned for the entirety of July 20; however, the organizers of the strike have proposed an alternative for those who cannot miss a full workday – the alternative being taking a knee, holding a moment of silence, or walking off the job for 8 minutes and 46 seconds at noon.

The organizers and those acting in concert with them are demanding:
  • Justice for Black communities, with an unequivocal declaration that Black Lives Matter, is a necessary first step to winning justice for all workers. To win higher wages, better jobs, and Unions for All, we must ensure that Black workers can build economic power. To win Healthcare for All, we must address disparities in accessibility and quality of care. Action on climate change must center communities of color. Immigrant communities stand in solidarity with Black workers to build power together. Education, housing, and criminal justice reform must start by listening to Black workers and leaders. We will support and align with Black-led organizations and their demands.
  • Elected officials and candidates at every level use their executive, legislative, and regulatory authority to begin to rewrite the rules and reimagine our economy and democracy so that Black communities can thrive. They must ensure fair and safe voting in-person and by mail so everyone can fully participate in our democracy. As we continue to address the COVID-19 pandemic, we must protect the health and safety of all workers, returning people to work and into public spaces with a rational, safe, well-managed plan designed with workers and community stakeholders.
  • Corporations take immediate action to dismantle racism, white supremacy, and economic exploitation wherever it exists, including in our workplaces. This includes corporations raising wages, allowing workers to form unions, providing health care, sick leave and expanded health care coverage to people who are uninsured or have lost coverage as the result of losing their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, child care support and more, to disrupt the multigenerational cycle of poverty created by their anti-worker attacks. Workers must have ample personal protective equipment (PPE) and have a voice in the plan to create safe workplaces during and after the pandemic.
  • Every worker has the opportunity to form a union, no matter where they work. Every worker in America must have the freedom that comes from economic security and equity in opportunity. We demand the immediate implementation of a $15/hour minimum wage, fully-funded health care coverage and paid sick leave for all.
See Strike for Black Lives, Demands.

This strike presents employers with novel legal and moral issues including concerns about (and supporting) diversity in the workplace, and how to administer no-strike, business interruption, and/or prohibited walk-out provisions of their collective bargaining agreements (“CBA”), and, among other things, if this strike is protected concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act. Just as one example, an employer may support the Black Lives Matter movement – and this strike – but is fearful that if it fails to adhere to the no-strike provision in its CBA then the no-strike provision may be subject to challenge in the future.  

While each situation is unique, employers should prepare for at least some of their workforce to participate in this strike on July 20 – especially if the employer works with one of the unions involved in planning the Strike for Black Lives. Employers will want to review their CBAs and any no-strike provisions, make plans to support or work with strikers, possibly accommodate the 8 minute and 46 second walk-out, or find an alternative way to work with the local union and support diversity initiatives thus avoiding any strike or other job action.

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