LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The two stories that have dominated the news in recent months converged in several parts of Los Angeles: racial justice and fighting the coronavirus. Specifically, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on essential and often low-wage workers.
Hundreds of essential workers walked off the job and joined caravans from Baldwin Hills to South LA, ending in Exposition Park at USC. They wanted to call attention to systemic racism and economic inequality. Members of SEIU, the Service Employees International Union, which represents 400,000 nursing home and home care workers throughout California, protested alongside Black Lives Matter, other unions and social justice groups. They are demanding living wages and safe working conditions. Many who work in skilled nursing facilities or who are home care givers also want to be considered essential workers given the risks they face every day.
"We are on the front line just like nurses and doctors," said Rachelle Lewis, SEIU member. "We go to our consumers to take care of them. A lot of them feel like they are held hostage in their homes, and they are afraid of the virus."
'We're fighting for fast food workers and Uber and Lyft drivers to have a union," said Mashika Ronquillo, SEIU member. "We're fighting for $15 an hour. We're all just coming together and showing everyone we need to make change and it starts here."
This was part of a larger strike in two dozen cities nationwide. The "Strike for Black Lives" follows weeks of unrest over police brutality.