By Kathy Durkin, workers.org, May 7, 2014
May Day — International Workers’ Day — was commemorated across the country with calls for workers’ rights, a $15 minimum wage and full rights for all undocumented immigrants.
Some 250 activists, students and workers marched through Center City Philadelphia under the banner, “Unite to Fight the 1%.” The mostly young demonstrators targeted the Stock Exchange, Wells Fargo Bank, Gov. Tom Corbett and fast-food restaurants, where workers are fighting for a $15 hourly wage and union rights.
Workers from CATA (Comité de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agrícolas), the farmworkers support committee, denounced the firing of La Brea bakery workers for their immigration status. Joe Quinlan, political director of American Postal Workers Union Local 7048 told the multinational crowd how Staples is destroying union postal jobs.
Marchers demanded freedom for political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. They opposed fracking, student debt and budget cuts and demanded justice for the recently fired Temple professor, Anthony Monteiro. The action ended with the workers’ anthem, the “Internationale,” outside the Comcast/NBC world headquarters.
$15 hourly wage now!
More than 100 community, union and student activists took to the streets of downtown Baltimore, highlighting local workers’ struggles. They gathered at McKeldin Square, site of Occupy’s encampment.
Young activists electrified the rally. Daniella Longchamps, a low-wage worker and Fight Imperialism, Stand Together member, co-chaired with Andre Powell, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union delegate to the Baltimore Metropolitan AFL-CIO Council. Crystal Richardson, from the “We Deserve Better” Workers Assembly, stressed low-wage workers’ urgent need for the $15 minimum wage. Brandon Wallace, a jobless youth, also spoke.
Occupy activist Beth Emmerling spoke about the oppression of women workers. Colleen Davidson of Fight Imperialism, Stand Together promoted immigrant rights. Longtime Civil Rights leader, Dr. Marvin Doc Cheatham, echoed demands for a livable wage and workers’ rights.
Jeff Greene, of the Food and Commercial Workers union, and Tony Yovo, fired Super Shuttle worker and UFCW 1994 member, spoke about the struggle against Veolia. George Askew, APWU Local 181 president, and Tom Dodge, postal worker activist and APWU member, explained the struggle to save the post office.
Fred Mason, Maryland and D.C. AFL-CIO Council president, spoke. Outside the Housing Authority, Anthony Coates, AFSCME Local 647 president, decried the city’s efforts to privatize the agency.
Carl Gentile, American Federation of Government Workers representative; Dennis Hornton of the United Electrical workers; and Lee Patterson of Workers World Party supported the postal workers. An “anonymous” activist spoke, along with Max Obuseski, of Pledge of Resistance. Dick Ochs ended the protest with a rousing rendition of “Solidarity Forever.”
The “We Deserve Better” Workers Assembly and the Peoples Power Assembly initiated the day’s actions, and announced upcoming participation in the May 15 national fast-food workers strike.
Nearly 150 people joined a spirited May Day demonstration in downtown Raleigh, N.C. Organized by the Southern Workers’ Assembly, it grew out of local workers’ assemblies in Raleigh and Wilson. Earlier, hundreds protested at Duke Energy’s shareholders meeting in Charlotte, N.C.
Union and immigrant rights’ representatives spoke at the courthouse rally. Present were UE Local 150 public workers, “N.C. Raise Up” fast-food workers, Farm Labor Organizing Committee farmworkers and N.C. Association of Educators public school teachers. “Organize 2020” also attended.
Immigrant rights groups, including a powerful collective of undocumented families, Comité Popular Somos Raleigh, and El Pueblo, marched and spoke. A banner from “Southerners on New Ground,” a LGBTQ organization, read “Not1More! Liberation, Not Deportations.”
Youth from the high school organization NC HEAT (Heroes Emerging Among Teens), spoke about organizing against the school-to-prison pipeline. Lamont Lilly of WWP’s Durham branch, reviewed the struggle against racism and police brutality in Durham, N.C. Larsene Taylor from UE Local 150 related the struggle to drop the charges against Moral Monday arrestees.
Demonstrators denounced State Budget Director Art Pope, calling for a people’s budget. Multimillionaire Pope, a Gov. Pat McCrory appointee, has directed the reactionary legislation that gave the 1% tax breaks, codified horrendous attacks on voting rights, and cut social service funding.
The march ended at the N.C. General Assembly, site of huge 2013 Moral Monday protests directed at the Legislature, Pope and McCrory.
Stop deportations and detentions!
Chanting, “¡Obama escucha! ¡Estamos en la lucha!” 1,000 immigrants and activists marched on May 3 through the Gulfton immigrant community in Houston, led by Aztec dancers and the Living Hope Wheelchair Association. The multinational crowd chanted in Spanish and English behind the lead banner, which proclaimed “Jobs, Education and Healthcare for All! Respect Worker and Immigrant Rights!”
Other banners declared “Not 1 More Deportation!” “¡Basta, No Más Deportaciones!” and “Keep Our Families Together.” Signs supported striking farmers in Colombia, hailed the Basque Country, called for universal health care and said no more mass incarcerations and executions. Socialism was raised, too.
Speakers included Minister Robert Muhammad of National Islam Mosque 45; Teodoro Aguiluz of CRECEN (Centro de Recursos Centroamericanos); and Melanny Martínez, 13, whose father, Manuel Martínez, was deported on his 50th birthday, despite his 42-year U.S. residency. He was a hunger strike leader at a detention center.
With nearly 8,000 immigrants detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Texas facilities, opposing detentions is a big issue there.
This march united youth and seniors of all nationalities, immigrants, activists, unionists and all those fighting for a better life for all workers.
About 300 people marched through South Tucson, Ariz., and then rallied at Quincie Douglas Park. Speakers denounced the racist collaboration between police and ICE, who prey upon the Latino/a community there. Raúl Alcaraz Ochoa, of the Southside Worker Center, defended day laborers’ right to seek work without harassment, concluding, “We need a world without capitalism.”
Immigrant rights activist Isabel García condemned the 2 million deportations during the Obama administration. She linked struggles for immigrant rights and opposing the border’s militarization. Guadalupe Guerrero, mother of unarmed youth Carlos Lamadrid, killed by a border patrol agent, reiterated what she told federal agents, when they offered her $250,000 to stop protesting her son’s death: “I don’t want money. I want justice.”
Legalization now! No police brutality!
The Southern California Immigration Coalition held its annual May Day March for Immigrant and Worker Rights in Los Angeles. Unión del Barrio and Freedom Socialist Party members emceed the rallies. Over a thousand people carried signs demanding “Legalization Now!” “Stop Deportations!” “No Bracero/Guestworker Programs!” and “Fund Jobs, not U.S. War!”
Speakers reflected LA’s broad progressive movements, from Our Walmart, representing low-wage workers, to Central American national liberation struggles, including FMLN (the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front) and FSLN (the Sandinista National Liberation Front). Teresa Jaranilla of BAYAN-USA explained their campaign against employer wage theft against low-wage workers. She highlighted increasing human trafficking of Filipinos and the fight against U.S. imperialist plans using Trans Pacific Partnership agreements.
Community activists told of fighting LA police checkpoints and racist anti-immigrant attacks. Hundreds of high school students marched from LA Trade Technical College to the protest site. United Teachers of Los Angeles brought a contingent. Occupy organizations protested foreclosures at Wells Fargo, then joined this march and had speakers.
Police videoed protesters, attempting to intimidate them. However, “Stop-LAPD Spying” activists pointed their video cameras at the cops and spoke at the rally.
Jefferson Azevedo, International Action Center spokesperson, called for workers to unite to bring down capitalism.
Over a thousand joined the IWD Regional March in Oakland, Calif., hosted by “Oakland Sin Fronteras” and partners. Gathering at the Fruitvale BART Plaza, protesters wound through the Latino/a community, calling for legalization for all undocumented immigrants, an end to deportations and policies that force migration, and closure of detention centers. They called for upholding workers’ rights, stopping police violence, bringing all loved ones home from prisons, building strong communities and ending U.S. military aggression.
Construction workers and community supporters gathered in the San Francisco Mission District at dawn to protest the expansion of the “two gate” system at city construction sites. Organized as the “United Rank & File,” the workers say contractors and developers created the system to impose the anti-worker Taft Hartley Act’s restrictions on construction unions. Unions are barred from picketing the nonunion gate.
The workers marched to the first construction site at Octavia and Market streets and picketed; most union workers did not go through, successfully slowing down the day’s work. They marched to three other sites, which they picketed, including the largest, the War Memorial, and addressed workers on the job over a loudspeaker about these issues.
Hundreds of spirited youths and other activists gathered at San Diego City College, marched through the city’s Barrio Logan neighborhoods and rallied at famous Chicano Park on May Day. Members of WWP carried a beautiful banner adorned with pictures of Che Guevara and Harriet Tubman.
In addition to activist speakers from several local organizations, a highly political May Day greeting from Mumia Abu-Jamal was played over the rally’s loudspeaker system. Several hundred copies of the “Legalization!” issue of Workers World newspaper were distributed.
A May Day rally in Tacoma, Wash., expressed solidarity with striking prisoners at the Northwest Detention Center. Demonstrators caravanned to Seattle for the annual March for Workers and Immigrant Rights.
Thousands from labor, immigrant and other community groups marched downtown, following Aztec dancers. The opening rally was at Judkins Park. The ending rally was at downtown Westlake Center.
Speakers at the rallies detailed the brutal treatment of the prisoners on hunger strike. Dr. Rev. Leslie Braxton, who is African American, called for unity of the larger social justice movement. Ramón Torres of Familias Unidas, proposed a boycott of Sakuma berries, to gain farmworkers better wages and working conditions..
Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant praised the immigrant marchers for promoting the $15/hr. minimum wage demand. She attacked Democratic Mayor Ed Murray’s “advisory committee’s” plans for a four-year phase-in for the higher wage for big business, an 11-year delay until all workers reach the same minimum wage, a tip penalty and health care deductions. Sawant announced the 15NOW petition campaign for a $15 ballot initiative.
The march was organized by El Comité and the May 1 Action Coalition.
Sharon Black, Ben Carroll, Terri Kay, Bob McCubbin, Jim McMahan, John Parker, Gloria Rubac, Paul Teitelbaum and Scott Williams contributed to this article