By Cameron Orr
The People’s Climate March for Climate, Jobs and Justice, which hit the streets on the 100th day of Trump’s administration, was followed by millions more taking the streets on May 1st, two days later.
May 1st is International Workers’ Day. Sparked by strikes across the U.S. for the 8-hour workday in 1886, it has become the most important holiday for the world’s working people. May Day is an officially recognized holiday in most countries. Although it originated in the U.S., it is not officially recognized here.
Among multiple rallies, marches, and protests taking place throughout the day in New York City was an action organized by Make the Road and the Center for Popular Democracy that blocked the entrances to JPMorgan Chase as part of the Backers of Hate campaign which targets major banks and corporations that stand to profit from the private prisons, oil pipelines, and anti-worker policies that Trump’s ultra-right agenda exists to support. Hundreds also gathered in Union Square, Washington Square, and Grand Central Station to oppose U.S. wars and attacks on immigrants and minorities.
Thousands rallied for Immigrant and Workers’ rights in Foley Square with the New York Immigration Coalition, Make the Road New York, the Teamsters, 32BJ, and many other unions,labor, housing, and community organizations. The Communist Party USA was present, talking with attendees and handing out literature, including the Party Program, “Road to Socialism.”
Immigrant and workers’ rights have been the focus of U.S. May Day actions in recent years. With direct attacks being taken against immigrant workers and communities by the Trump administration, the issue received an even stronger and more urgent focus this year. The denial of access to citizenship for immigrant workers has been a main feature of weakening the labor movement in the U.S., while reducing the voting population of U.S. workers. Increased threats against immigrant workers makes it extremely necessary for these workers to form unions, so that immigrant labor cannot be used to further drive down wages for everyone.
Anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies are also being pursued by far-right parties in other developed countries to redirect anger away from the transnational corporations which have benefitted from increasing economic inequality and the hardships many are experiencing. Unemployment caused by automation and moving of jobs overseas for cheaper and less protected labor continue to plague workers who are forced to compete on a global scale, increasing the number of workers relocating to other countries. Wars for the domination of oil and other key resources have continued and intensified, increasing the number of people seeking refugee status worldwide.
Granma, Official Voice of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee, reported that “Greek trade unions observed the date with a 24-hour general strike, as the country’s government prepares more cutbacks to comply with demands of international banks.”
“Some 40,000 workers gathered in Indonesia’s capital for May Day and marched to the Presidential palace shouting, ‘Long live the workers,’ denouncing low wages, inadequate healthcare, and insecure contract jobs, as well as government policies.”
“Workers in South Korea congregated in Seoul to call for improved working conditions.”
“In Spain, under the banner of ‘No excuses, into the streets,’ May Day demonstrations were held in 73 cities to demand stable jobs, fair wages, adequate pensions, more social security, and an end to labor law reforms.”
In Chicago, where the holiday was born, “Thousands rallied at Union Park on Chicago’s near west side,” according to a People’s World article by Michelle Zacarias. “People marched several miles from Union Park to Federal Plaza downtown, where they merged with the rest of the demonstration. Maya Arcilla from Anakbyan Chicago, a comprehensive national democratic mass organization of Filipino youth and students, spoke at the rally about the way in which deportations have affected marginalized communities of all backgrounds, [saying], ‘we condemn the Trump administration in its plan to strengthen immigration enforcement, and to hire 10,000 immigration agents.’ ”
“As we mark the May Day Holiday, it is time to reflect on the struggles that gave birth to the Labor movement and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the battle for dignity and justice while also re-dedicating ourselves to win justice and basic rights for all workers. …
“Workers stood fearless and united against tyranny and greed to win better working conditions. Many of the men and women who gathered in the square that day were immigrant workers. They came to America filled with hope and eager for opportunity. And, once here, they fought for a better, safer, more dignified way of life. …
“LIUNA has been a tireless advocate for fair and just comprehensive immigration and we will continue that fight; recommitting ourselves to a movement that never backs up and never backs down in the fight for civil rights, human rights, workers’ rights and union rights.”
In New York City, the New Sanctuary Coalition, “an interfaith network of congregations, organizations, and individuals” that works with faith congregations to provide sanctuaries for immigrants facing deportation while “working in coalition with NYC’s major immigrant organizations to reform immigration enforcement practices and policies” marched across the Brooklyn Bridge and met the New York District of the Communist Party USA before joining the large and jubilant crowd at Foley Square.