BOSTON, MA — All union construction sites in Greater Boston paused to affirm Black Lives Matter on Friday at 8:46 a.m. The June 19 “stand down” lasted for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time that Derick Chauvin knelt on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man, killing him, in Minneapolis, MN.
Coordinated by the Boston Building Trades Unions in partnership with union contractors, the jobsite actions occurred on Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, and honored the lives of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others.
The actions halted construction at union sites throughout the area. A brief speaking program in East Boston at the Boston Housing Authority redevelopment of affordable units at Orient Heights preceded the regional stand down.
The stand down and its message drew praise and statements of support from across the industry, some of which are included below, along with statements from the kickoff event in East Boston, the livestream of which can be viewed here. Courtesy photos from the stand down kickoff are also attached.
“We are here to fight for Black lives because Black Lives Matter,” said Brian Doherty, General Agent of the Boston Building Trades Unions.
“We in the Building Trades Unions are committed to working together to dismantle the systems of racism and oppression that have led to the deaths of so many Black people in our communities,” said Alexis Jones of the Building Trades Unions. “These systems have kept the working class people here and around the world from achieving true and shared prosperity. We in the Labor movement know that we cannot achieve economic equality and true justice until we recognize that workers’ rights and civil rights are one and the same. Today, and every day, we commit to building the world as we know possible, and together we fight for Black lives because Black Lives Matter.”
“Our country is on fire, and we are fed up. Our economic and political systems are rigged to favor the super-wealthy. Racism in all its forms must be abolished so that our multiracial working class can unite. The Labor Movement knows that we cannot win economic justice without racial justice and that Black Lives Matter. It is time to act,” said Darlene Lombos, executive secretary-treasurer of the Greater Boston Labor Council, reading out from a statement released by the GBLC movement in support of Black Lives Matter.
“Let us look in the mirror and take responsibility for our own actions. Let’s ask ourselves – what can I do to create a more diverse and inclusive community? How can I set positive examples for those around me, both at work and at home? How can I create a ripple effect and encourage others to join the cause? We must do this together. We cannot build communities, without first building community,” said John Fish, CEO of Suffolk.
“I thank the unions today because Dr. Martin Luther King, in the People’s March, marched for people’s rights and civil rights, but it was for jobs, as well. And he recognized the importance of unions, and how being a member of a union you can uplift and support your family and put your kids through college and put a roof over your head. So we look forward to working with you, not just today but every day, as we push this conversation and work to elevate more Black and Brown folks into leadership,” said Linda Dorcena Forry, Vice President of Suffolk.
“Our Local unions are working in many ways to eliminate racism in all of its forms, at work and everywhere,” said Caron Reese of the Boston Building Trades Unions.
“As an industry, today’s moment of silence was an important first step toward working together to be a part of the solution for a more equitable and inclusive future.”
— Consigli Construction Co., Inc.
“We, at Gilbane, have seen the ongoing evidence of systemic racism that continues to plague our communities of color across the nation for far too long. Collectively, we all must play an active role in being antiracist. We all have an obligation to stand up and stand down against discrimination in any form and listen to the voices of those who are directly impacted.”
— Gilbane Building Company, Boston, MA
“Commodore Builders supports the Building Trades in their stand down and stands in solidarity with the fight against systemic racism. We coordinated with our projects to support the moment of silence.”
— Commodore Builders, Waltham, MA
“We have a responsibility to speak out against the racist acts occurring in our communities and actively promote justice and equality. At Turner, racism and discrimination of any kind, in our offices and on our project sites is not and will not be tolerated. We work hard to create a diverse and inclusive culture. In view of the injustices that continue to occur in the communities where we live and work, it is clear we all must do more. We must move beyond quiet support and become active and accountable allies for racial equality.”
— Turner Construction Company, Boston, MA
“Building Pathways declares and affirms to fight to ensure and to uphold that Black Lives Matter. We decry the institutional systems of racism and oppression that contributed to the murder of George Floyd and of countless other innocent Black people who have had their lives stolen and their rights abused.
Building Pathways is committed to fighting against and dismantling the barriers in our society that for too long have denied equitable access for Black people to good jobs, good health, and affordable housing. That includes by reflecting on our own practices, programs, and the history that necessitated our founding.
We must deepen our work and further our resolve to build not only career opportunities for Black people, but to fight for a world in which we celebrate Black lives, in which all Black people can not only breathe, but thrive, both in our industry and everywhere.”
— Building Pathways, Boston, MA
Other organizations that participated or offered support included but were not limited to:
BOND Building Construction, Medford, MA
John Moriarty and Associates, Brookline, MA
Skanska, Boston, MA
Boston Housing Authority