Unions Mobilize on May Day Against Crackdown on Immigrant and Worker Rights


Local 1359’s Sr. Attorney Carl Foster views the May Day rally as an opportunity for the labor movement to organize new members and build political power. Photo: Mike Lee


Calling for the protection of immigrant and worker rights, DC 37 activists joined protesters in a march on May Day

Demonstrators gathered for an evening rally on May 1 at Foley Square in lower Manhattan, before marching to Union Square to join another rally. During the protests, police arrested dozens of demonstrators.

President Donald J. Trump was the subject of ire at the Foley Square rally, where speakers condemned his crackdown on immigrants, attacks on worker protections, and supporting policies that harm working families.

“We will not allow him to stomp on the rights of immigrants, workers, Muslims, women and Jews,” Local 375 member Liz Eastman said.

Demonstrators held placards with such messages as “New Yorkers for Immigrant Justice,” “No Ban, No Wall, No Raids,” “Resist Trump,” and “Defund ICE,” referring to the federal agency charged with detaining immigrants.

“We are here to stand up for our country’s basic values, religious freedom, cultural diversity and the right to join a union,” said John Hyslop, president of Queens Library Guild Local 1321.

Sr. Attorney Carl Foster, a member of Rent Regulation Service Employees Local 1359, said, “We need to organize and stay organized.” He charged that the country’s two major political parties don’t represent the interests of working families and that workers must be the leading voice in the struggle to change the country’s unfair economic system.

The origins of May Day

Foster said this mobilization was important because it provides an opportunity to teach people about the origins of May Day, which was founded a year after the 1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago, where demonstrators were responding to the killing of several workers by police a few days earlier and supported striking workers who called for an eight-hour working day.

The peaceful demonstration at Chicago’s Haymarket Square turned violent when a bomb exploded, leading to the shooting deaths of seven police officers and at least four civilians.

Eight anarchists were charged with carrying out the bombing.

Speaking from a podium at Foley Square, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer blasted Trump for his failure to recognize the important contributions immigrants make to the economy.

“We need to build solidarity across struggles,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, saying disparate groups should work together for social change.

“We have to stand up for unions, which means the middle class,” said Public Advocate Letitia James.

“We will rise up and resist,” James said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio also spoke at the rally, pledging that the city will standby immigrants who face deportation and provide them with legal aide.

“We have the highest percentage of immigrants in 100 years,” de Blasio said. “And New York’s in its most prosperous time.”

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