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Labor Groups Rally Against Racism And Economic Inequality

People gather on the State House steps in Boston for the Strike for Black Lives on Monday morning. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
People gather on the State House steps in Boston for the Strike for Black Lives on Monday morning. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Labor union groups rallied Monday in front of the Massachusetts State House as part of a national day of action meant to protest systemic racism and economic inequality that they say has worsened during the coronavirus pandemic.

Health care workers, janitors and other essential workers were among the 200 or so people who took part in the morning event, which was organized by the Service Employees International Union, which represents many of the workers.

A woman stands on Beacon Street in solidarity with the Strike for Black Lives. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A woman stands on Beacon Street in solidarity with the Strike for Black Lives. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The rally was part of the national “Strike for Black Lives” in which workers planned to walk off the job to attend rallies and other actions, though Boston organizers said most who attended the State House rally had not walked off the job.

U.S. Sen. Ed Markey said President Donald Trump is “criminally negligent” because he’s not doing enough to protect essential workers from the dual dangers of COVID-19 and racism.

U.S. Sen. Ed Markey elbow bumps a member of the SEIU. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
U.S. Sen. Ed Markey elbow bumps a member of the SEIU. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III speaks to a rally participant before the Strike for Black Lives. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III speaks to a rally participant before the Strike for Black Lives. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, a fellow Democrat running against Markey, said the pandemic has exposed the shortcomings of the nation’s “broken” health care and economic systems.

The two lawmakers also urged passage of federal legislation to provide hazard pay and expand emergency sick leave for workers responding to the pandemic.

Rally organizers are also pushing for passage of racial justice-related bills in the state legislature before lawmakers recess at the end of the month.

A member of SEIU 32BJ holds a sign during the Strike for Black Lives rally in front of the State House in Boston on Monday. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A member of SEIU 32BJ holds a sign during the Strike for Black Lives rally in front of the State House in Boston on Monday. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

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