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Thu May 2, 2013, 12:12 AM

 

Hundreds March on Mayday in San Diego.

Last edited Thu May 2, 2013, 11:48 AM - Edit history (1)

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Hundreds March on Mayday in San Diego.
Posted on May 2, 2013


By

Nadin Abbott.

May 1, 2013 (San Diego)– Hundreds of Union Members and supporters came out today to the streets of San Diego to march for both labor right and immigrant rights. Pedro Rios of the Friends Committee (from El Cajon) said that “May Day is a day we are reclaiming for our community.”

Marches started in 2006 “when there were macro demonstrations around the country,” including San Diego. At the national level, this is about Immigrant Rights, which are connected to labor rights. May Day also celebrates the events of the Haymarket on May 1st, 1886 when a bomb went off at the Haymarket in Chicago, killing police officers and strikers alike. Labor leaders, immigrants themselves, were hauled before the court and were found guilty of setting this bomb off. They received the death penalty and ironically became a symbol for workers around the world. This is why May Day is International Labor day.

Around the world this is a holiday. In Mexico, where I grew up, the eight martyrs were remembered, but in the United States May Day was just another day. We have lost this day. So now, that we are seeing it recovered, it is striking. You might ask why? The workers were demanding a right most Americans workers take for granted. the eight hour work day.

So I asked Rios about this revival. As he put it, the unions that have been hit the worst with e-verify and other attacks on immigrants among them the Janitors Union and UNITE here, the hotel workers, are now aware of May Day. He also said that the goal was to get about five hundred people to come. I would say they met the goal, and perhaps more than five hundred people joined the march.
Rios also said that due to the support of the Labor Council and Lorena Gonzales, the compromise to celebrate the day is regional.

I asked him about expanding to the East County, where we have many workers in the service industry, as well as poverty levels that are unequal. He said that there are now alliances emerging, for instance with the Human Rights Coalition from El Cajon. Rios added that they were working to “create connections with communities that want to join the struggle for labor rights.”


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Some of the Unions present were UNITE here, UFCW Local 135, EIU Healthcare, UDW (They are home care providers), Occupy San Diego, which while not a Union, it’s still very active, and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). AFSCME was also present en force.

Geneve Aguilar of the Janitors Union (that like Hotel Workers are facing e-verify in order to suppress labor organizing, and face 500 dismissals soon), simply said, “enough of criminalizing the worker.”

She introduced Rosa Lopez, a member of the Union, local 19877 of the SEIU. This local represents workers at the Airport, among other places, there they clean so you can have a good experience. She said that she “came to the United States over twenty years ago.” She came to make a life, and give a better future to her children.

Then she mentioned her comrades, over five hundred janitors, “who came to this country to work, not to be separated from their families,” or to lose their ability to make a living. She added, “we are going to work for the migratory reform. It’s not just for us, but others who have been affected by this situation.” She closed by reminding people that “they might take our jobs away, but not our dignity.”

Rios reminded people that “It’s become a day for immigrants to assert their rights.” In an ironic twist of history, and Santayana was right, “those who forget history are bound to repeat it.” The workers at the Haymarket were immigrants, asserting their rights, though the strike and other methods. Here we are, over a hundred years later, and immigrants still have to assert their rights.

“We have seen too much when workers are denied jobs” whether it is the San Diego Mission Valley Hilton, or the five hundred Janitors that are about to lose their jobs. “All of us will be better off when eleven million come out from the shadows.”

Not stated by Rios, but one of the expected effects of these millions coming out of the shadows will be an upward wage pressure, as these workers will not be so easily abused, nor paid less because the threat of calling the Migra will be gone.

Herman Ramirez, an organizer for the United Food Workers told us that Northgate, a small supermarket, intends to also use E-Verify to solve their Union problem. Later on the march went in front of the supermarket, near the end of the march. He also added that “the teacher that is protesting, is also teaching.” He then pointed out that there was a lack of teachers this year for the march, and that Pink Slips should have none to do with their presence and solidarity with the rest of the working class.

He added that people are divided starting in school. Some kids will go to college, while others to the trades. But what we all need “is work with dignity.”

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Virginia (One of the hunger strikers who has lost her job since) was the last to speak. She told us that she is originally from the State of Veracruz in Mexico. She came to this country ten years ago looking for work. (Many of the people living in the country side in Mexico have abandoned the fields and come to the US since NAFTA)

She added that she has sent her three kids to college. She started work at the Mission Valley Hilton two years ago, where “she had to find time to clean sixteen rooms in eight hours.” It is very physical work. When word of a Union organizing effort came, she immediately joined the struggle. This was led by UNITE Here Local 30. “We deserve a descent pay.”

In March the hotel was sold, and on the First of March there was civil disobedience leading to twenty arrests. In the end the company said that they would rehire all one hundred and ten workers, but go through E-Verity. The workers tried the five day hunger strike in April, and they were still fired.

“We want a migratory reform to live in peace, but we also want the Union so we can have dignified work, with respect, and benefits. And we need to lose the fear and organize.”

Then she addressed the President of the United States, in a formula more common in Mexico, “Citizen President of the Republic, we ask for dignified work, we are important to the nation.

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Then the march started. It was a long march, taking us downtown, to the Hotels near the Convention Center, in front of the center itself, up the Gaslamp and into the Golden Hills area of San Diego. It was a good, hilly climb, and throughout they kept themselves up, with chants. Some old ones from Occupy were there, “Tell me what democracy looks like, this is what democracy looks like,” Or “We are the 99%”

There were others that were very much labor related, or immigrant rights related. “The Worker’s Struggle does not have borders,” “without papers, without fear,” and my personal favorite, “up with the Union, down with exploitation.”

The chants were done in both English and Spanish, and leafiest were given to passers by. At one point the marchers were confronted by one person, who screamed at them to “go back to Mexico.” This gentleman did not do anything more than just scream epithets and got no rise from the marchers. One of the march Marshals positioned himself between the marchers and the person, and it never escalated.

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When the workers marched by Northgate, they screamed, “Northgate listen, we are in the struggle.”

At the end, Laura Reyes, General Secretary of the United Domestic Workers International and leader of AFSCME took to the stage. “We all know these are challenging times. We have to pull together so we can defeat every obstacle they put in front of us.” She also reminded those listening that “too many employers depend on an endless supply of cheap labor.”

Reyes reminded people that the Unions have power, and with that comes responsibility, “to seek unjust labor conditions, not just for the immigrant but for every worker.”

She then addressed the dreamers, many of them were in the crowd. “The dreamers want to serve this country, the one they call home.” Immigration reform “is about freedom, respect and dignity.”

Workers have a right to speak while on the job, an essential freedom that many want to take away from workers. “This is our moment. This is our challenge, and make no mistake, San Diego we have seized this moment.”

Reyes later told me that AFSCME will recognize immigrants in this country.

To put a little context on this, until a few years ago Organized Labor saw the immigrant community as a threat. But the AFL-CIO did split into the Federation and the United For Change Coalition. The latter sees immigrants, in the service industries, as a natural growth area for the Unions. Why? It’s difficult to export the job of a hotel worker, while the Auto Workers of America face their jobs being sent abroad.

Labor has yet to fully face the reality of Globalization. But it does look to this observer, that Labor is starting to. During the march itself I talked about this with Aguilar, and how these divisions will have to be overcome. But, it does look that we might be seeing the renewal of Labor, or at least on this May Day, I sure hope so.

OpEd news link

http://www.opednews.com/articles/Hundreds-March-on-Mayday-i-by-nadin-abbott-130502-634.html

11 replies, 5620 views

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Arrow 11 replies Author Time Post
Reply Hundreds March on Mayday in San Diego. (Original post)
nadinbrzezinski May 2013 OP
LeftInTX May 2013 #1
nadinbrzezinski May 2013 #3
NYC_SKP May 2013 #2
nadinbrzezinski May 2013 #4
malaise May 2013 #5
nadinbrzezinski May 2013 #6
malaise May 2013 #7
nadinbrzezinski May 2013 #8
KoKo May 2013 #9
nadinbrzezinski May 2013 #10
malaise May 2013 #11

Response to nadinbrzezinski (Original post)

Thu May 2, 2013, 12:32 AM

1. Nadin: Thanks for the well written article

Sounds like the San Diego event was well organized. Good to see the traditional unions supporting service workers.

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Response to LeftInTX (Reply #1)

Thu May 2, 2013, 09:42 AM

3. It was, and I am sore

 



Also managed to get blisters out of the deal

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Response to nadinbrzezinski (Original post)

Thu May 2, 2013, 12:45 AM

2. K/R. (nt)

 

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Response to nadinbrzezinski (Original post)

Thu May 2, 2013, 11:31 AM

4. Kick

 

Media is going over Seattle and the violence, not the hundreds of peaceful marchers.

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Response to nadinbrzezinski (Original post)

Thu May 2, 2013, 05:13 PM

5. A Magnificent report

Thanks Nadin

Rec

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Response to malaise (Reply #5)

Thu May 2, 2013, 07:13 PM

6. i will wear off this pair of shoes fast

 

And the blisters...oy

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Response to nadinbrzezinski (Reply #6)

Thu May 2, 2013, 07:15 PM

7. Soak your feet in baking soda and warm water

and then rub them with aloe vera and or witch hazel.

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Response to malaise (Reply #7)

Thu May 2, 2013, 07:28 PM

8. Tonight, I had to take care of nephews

 

It's the joy...of actually doing the job right. I am damn glad I travelled light as far as camera gear is concerned. I only took my camera with kit lens...I considered taking the long glass...well..that is what crop is for if need be.

I had some insightful talks with local labor leaders and activists.

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Response to nadinbrzezinski (Original post)

Thu May 2, 2013, 07:30 PM

9. Wow...incredible Photos, Signs...and all. It Ain't Dead Yet!

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Response to KoKo (Reply #9)

Thu May 2, 2013, 07:32 PM

10. Tonight I will post a few of the other

 

350 shots or so...was too tired last night for some odd reason. Right now with nephews... Joy ...and following the scanner for fires

I guess I got my 10k steps in for the day...and then some.

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Response to KoKo (Reply #9)

Thu May 2, 2013, 07:52 PM

11. And that's true across the globe

Had a nice chat with a retired labor leader this morning. He's quite optimistic that change is coming

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