PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Calls for the protection of Black workers echoed off the buildings in the city’s Oakland section Monday morning. More than 100 people came out to tell companies to protect their essential workers.

The “Black Workers Matter” protesters wanted to uplift workers of color who they believe have gotten pushed to the background during the fight against COVID-19.

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(Photo Credit: KDKA Photojournalist Brian Smithmyer)

“We are on the frontline of the battle of COVID-19, and most often times, we are not out to the forefront,” protester Steven Kelley said before the crowd marched.

“I just hope that the changes that we all want are not just superficial changes. We want real changes,” President of the ATU Black Caucus Pittsburgh Chapter Douglas Connor said.

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Some of the demands from protesters include better wages, paid sick leave and hazard pay, more PPE, and the right to form unions free from intimidation. Protesters feel many companies are not doing enough for their workers or giving Black employees the compensation they need during the pandemic.

“COVID-19 has shown us that we are essential workers. Before COVID 19 you never noticed us,” Kelley said.

Protesters are demanding to see systemic racism broken up in the workplace. Some said there are still companies treating employees differently because of their skin color.

“We are subject to all kinds of racism that go on everyday with our low pay and job descriptions, which change everyday,” protester James Deshields said.

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Similar marches happened Monday in more than 40 cities across the country.