For immediate release
July 14, 2016
Workers Gather in Support of Black Lives Matter Movement, Amid Recent Police Shooting of African-American School Cafeteria Worker
Lunchroom workers from UNITE HERE Philadelphia, labor allies and community activists will be hosting a vigil in honor of Philando Castile, an African-American cafeteria worker who was fatally shot by police during a traffic stop in St Anthony, Minnesota.
On July 6th, Philando Castile was shot four times by an officer after being pulled over while in the car with his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her four-year-old daughter. Castile worked as a nutrition services assistant at St Paul Public Schools, and was a 14-year member of Teamsters Local 320. Diamond Reynolds is a hotel housekeeper. Families and coworkers remember Castile as a dedicated lunchroom worker, memorizing the names of the 500 children he served and all their allergies. UNITE HERE and allies are standing together to say Black Lives Matter — his life mattered.
“I felt it was important to do this vigil today as a food service worker and the mother of 2 black sons who has been a victim of the ‘stop and frisk’ policy,” stated Nicole Hunt, food service worker and Local 634 organizer. “We have to come together as a nation to make changes and stop making excuses.”
UNITE HERE, a union representing thousands of lunchroom workers in Philadelphia and nationwide, stands in solidarity with Teamsters Local 320 and Black Lives Matter in our fight towards commonsense gun control and an end to police brutality. The action today will be echoed in by lunchroom workers and other hospitality workers represented by UNITE HERE Local 1 in Chicago, who are holding a protest downtown today. The action also follows a sit-in staged by UNITE HERE and its allies to demand action of Sen. Marco Rubio and all elected officials who have contributed to the discrimination and violence that plagues our communities and nation.
“In UNITE HERE we confront power and forces of oppression with collective action. Young black men getting killed is an affront to everything we stand for,” stated D. Taylor, UNITE HERE President, on the recent shootings. “We believe every man and woman has value and rights. As a union, we will confront and take on racism whenever we see it.”
The loss of Philando Castile echoes a persistent culture of violence and hate that disproportionately affect communities where our member and their families live and work. In order to stop cases such as Castile’s from happening again, our country needs to organize to change the economic conditions and social biases that perpetuate this culture of violence and hate against people of color.