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Racial and economic justice caravan rolls through Cleveland

Labor movement calls for change
Workers First Caravan
Posted at 4:45 PM, Jun 17, 2020

CLEVELAND — “We will not be silent one more day.” That’s the message from the president of the AFL-CIO, as thousands of union workers hit the streets to take a stand against inequality and injustice.

Workers First caravans took place across the country Wednesday, including one in Cleveland.

Dozens of vehicles gathered at the Laborers’ Local 310 hall and departed for the federal building downtown.

The ride for racial and economic justice was a call for action.

“There’s a momentum. Get on board because we can make a change,” said Roy Van Keuren, union member.

The workers requested new policies to tackle three hot-button issues: the coronavirus, its economic impact and structural racism.

“Racial justice and economic justice we consider to be one in the same,” said Harriet Applegate, North Shore AFL-CIO.

With streamers and Black Lives Matter signs on their vehicles, union members from across Northeast Ohio made their trek through the streets of Midtown and Downtown Cleveland.

“The last few weeks have shown us that sitting on the sidelines is actually being part of the problem,” said Applegate.

At their destination, they called on U.S. senators to pass the House-approved Heroes Act.

Organizers said it will give more essential workers the personal protective equipment they need to stay safe on the job.

“A lot of union members are people of color as well, low wage workers, they’re still working and they’re the ones who need the protection, they’re the ones who need their voices heard,” said Applegate.

Michelle Jones was inside one of the cars of the caravan.

“I feel a cultural shift,” said Jones.

The unity she’s seen over the last few weeks has given her a renewed sense of hope.

“It’s not just African-Americans, it’s holding hand-in-hand with whites, Latinos, Asians,” said Jones.

All of them coming together to spark meaningful and long-lasting change.

“People matter, and we need to stand up for humanity and injustice,” said Jones.