by: Marie Deatherage
by: Marie Deatherage
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This May 1st, community organizations, labor advocacy groups, unions, and supporters aim to march and rally to commemorate International Workers’ Day by highlighting issues of poverty wages, homelessness, wage theft, foreclosures, unemployment, racial and gender inequality, the need for a just and humane immigration reform, climate change and other affects of the systemic attack on working people.
“The gap between the haves and the have-nots continues to widen as corporate control of the economy grows and government corruption increases,” said Ben Marston of Unite Here, a union representing low wage hotel workers. “Our members struggle to make ends meet and often have to rely on social services such as food stamps even though they work full time. Workers are starting to fight back as we have seen recently with unions like the Portland Association of Teachers, the city workers of DCTU and the Professors at PSU who all threatened to strike in order to force good faith negotiations and a fair contract.”
According to Romeo Sosa of the immigrant rights organization Voz, “The immigrant population has always played a major role in the May Day event. Despite a growing attack on undocumented workers and their families, the community is standing strong in saying ‘no more’ to deportations that are separating children and parents.” Sosa continues, “We have collaborated with unions and community groups like Jobs with Justice and the homeless advocacy group Right 2 Dream Too. We see that our struggle against this corrupt system connects us all and that through solidarity we will become strong enough to create a new and just world.”
People will begin to gather at the South Park Blocks at 2:00 PM and the rally begins at 3:00 PM with speakers and musicians who will communicate the challenge to the community to confront issues of poverty wages, homelessness, wage theft, foreclosures, unemployment, racial and gender inequality, the need for a just and humane immigration reform, climate change and other affects of the systemic attack on working people. At 4:30 PM a march will begin through downtown Portland and will end back at the South Park Blocks at about 5:30 PM when there will be a short wrap up rally with some entertainment and speakers.
May Day, an ancient celebration of coming of summer, became an integral part of the late-1800s labor movement fighting for an eight-hour day. Over a hundred years ago workers organized on this day to demand fair labor conditions. Today, working people are still denied basic rights, as many live in poverty, endure houselessness, food insecurity, and lack of access to health care. As we approach May Day in 2015, we recognize how immigration status, race, ethnicity, gender identity, access to education, and other personal realities intersect and affect the way workers experience a range of injustices. This year our call is to reflect on the differences, find common ground, and Rise Up In Solidarity.
Jobs with Justice, VOZ Workers Rights Education Project, Oregon Federation of Nurses & Health Professional, Local #5017, American Friends Service Committee, Portland Central America Solidarity Committee, Portland Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (PCHRP), Healthcare for all Oregon, Democratic Socialists of America, Carpenters, SEIU 503, Don’t Shoot PDX, Black, Lives Matter, Gente Unida, AARPR, Right 2 Survive/ Right 2 Dream too, PAT, Oregon Fair Trade Campaign, 15 Now, Portland Right to the City, Mt. Hood Lodge #1005, Portland Peaceful Response Coalition, Portland Association of Teachers, Metanoia Peace Community, NATL ASSCN of letter carriers, Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice, Socialist Alternative – Portland Branch, Industrial Workers of the World, Climate Jobs Committee, ASFCME Green, 350PDX, Code Pink Portland, UNITE HERE Local 8.