April 2011, Week 4


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May Day Rallies for Workers' and Immigrant Rights (overview
and analysis - details on Wisconsin, Chicago & New York

1. May Day Rallies Will Support Workers' and Immigrant
   Rights (James Parks in AFL-CIO News)
2. Will Public Workers and Immigrants March Together on May
   Day? (David Bacon in Working In These Times)
3. May Day Rallies Reveal America's True Self - Its Promise
   and Its Fear (Rinku Sen in ColorLines)
4. Wisconsin Solidarity Rally and March for Immigrant and
   Worker Rights
5. Chicago - Haymarket Martyrs Monument Ceremony
6. New York - May Day Rally for Labor Rights, Immigrant
   Rights, Jobs for All!


May Day Rallies Will Support Workers' and Immigrant Rights

by James Parks

AFL-CIO Now Blog News

April 27, 2011


This May Day, working people are rallying across the country
to oppose attacks on workers' rights and immigrant rights.
Just as we did on April 4, working people will declare:
"Somos Unos - Respeten Nuestros Derechos" or "We Are
One - Respect Our Rights."

Workers' rights and immigrant rights are connected.  CEO-
backed politicians are targeting all working
people - including immigrants - with their corporate-sponsored
political agenda and continuing power grab. In addition to
demanding protection for collective bargaining and other
workers' rights, ralliers will call for comprehensive
immigration reform and passage of the DREAM Act, which would
provide undocumented young people a pathway to legal
residency through higher education or service in the

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says:

    These [May Day] marches are driven by the same spirit of
    activism and commitment that drives our brothers and
    sisters in Wisconsin and every other community that is
    now fighting back against the attacks on working people.

Trumka will speak at a march and rally of about 60,000
people in Milwaukee. Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler will
address a crowd in Chicago and Executive Vice President
Arlene Holt Baker will join a mass rally in New York City.

To find out what is happening in your community on May Day
or to plan an event, visit www.we-r-1.org.

Here are some other major rallies planned for May Day:

    * In Boston, thousands will participate in a march that
    draws on the global fight for workers' rights with the
    theme of  "From Cairo to Wisconsin to Massachusetts
    Defend All Workers' Rights."
    * In Houston, the local chapter of the Labor Council for
    Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) is joining with
    Houston United in a huge rally for workers' rights and
    immigrant rights.
    * In Buffalo, N.Y., working people and immigrants will
    march 2.1 miles from the east side of the city to the
    west side of buffalo for a rally to protest the threat
    to close a community health clinic that supports the
    growing Latino community.


Will Public Workers and Immigrants March Together on May Day?

by David Bacon

Working In These Times

April 28, 2011


One sign carried in almost every May Day march of the last
few years says it all: "We are Workers, not Criminals!"
Often it was held in the calloused hands of men and women
who looked as though they'd just come from work in a
factory, cleaning an office building, or picking grapes.

The sign stated an obvious truth. Millions of people have
come to the United States to work, not to break its laws.
Some have come with visas, and others without them. But they
are all contributors to the society they've found here.

This year, those marchers will be joined by the public
workers we saw in the state capitol in Madison, whose
message was the same: we all work, we all contribute to our
communities and we all have the right to a job, a union and
a decent life. Past May Day protests have responded to a
wave of draconian proposals to criminalize immigration
status, and work itself, for undocumented people. The
defenders of these proposals have used a brutal logic: if
people cannot legally work, they will leave.

But undocumented people are part of the communities they
live in. They cannot simply go, nor should they. They seek
the same goals of equality and opportunity that working
people in the United States have historically fought to
achieve.  In addition, for most immigrants, there are no
jobs to return to in the countries from which they've come.
The North American Free Trade Agreement alone deepened
poverty in Mexico so greatly that, since it took effect, 6
million people came to the United States to work because
they had no alternative.

Instead of recognizing this reality, the U.S. government has
attempted to make holding a job a criminal act. Thousands of
workers have already been fired, with many more to come. We
have seen workers sent to prison for inventing a Social
Security number just to get a job. Yet they stole nothing
and the money they've paid into Social Security funds now
subsidizes every Social Security pension or disability

Undocumented workers deserve legal status because of that
labor - their inherent contribution to society. Past years'
marches have supported legalization for the 12 million
undocumented people in the United States. In addition,
immigrants, unions and community groups have called for
repealing the law making work a crime, ending guest worker
programs, and guaranteeing human rights in communities along
the U.S./Mexico border.

The truth is that undocumented workers and public workers in
Wisconsin have a lot in common. In this year's May Day
marches, they could all hold the same signs. With
unemployment at almost 9%, all working families need the
Federal government to set up jobs programs, like those
Roosevelt pushed through Congress in the 1930s. If General
Electric alone paid its fair share of taxes, and if the
troops came home from Iraq and Afghanistan, we could put to
work every person wanting a job. Our roads, schools,
hospitals and communities would all benefit.

At the same time, immigrants and public workers need strong
unions that can push wages up, and guarantee pensions for
seniors and healthcare for the sick and disabled. A street
cleaner whose job is outsourced, and an undocumented worker
fired from a fast food restaurant both need protection for
their right to work and support their families.

Instead, some states like Arizona, and now Georgia, have
passed measures allowing police to stop any "foreign
looking" person on the street, and question their
immigration status. Arizona passed a law requiring employers
to fire workers whose names are flagged by Social Security.
In Mississippi an undocumented worker accused of holding a
job can get jail time of 1-5 years, and fines of up to

The states and politicians that go after immigrants are the
same ones calling for firing public workers and eliminating
their union rights. Now a teacher educating our children has
no more secure future in her job than an immigrant cleaning
an office building at night. The difference between their
problems is just one of degree.

But going after workers has produced a huge popular
response. We saw it in Madison in the capitol building. We
saw it in the May Day marches when millions of immigrants
walked peacefully through the streets. Working people are
not asleep. Helped by networks like May Day United, they
remember that this holiday itself was born in the fight for
the 8-hour day in Chicago more than a century ago.

In those tumultuous events, immigrants and the native born
saw they needed the same thing, and reached out to each
other. This May Day, will we see them walking together in
the streets again?

[David Bacon is a writer, photographer and former union
organizer. He is the author of Illegal People: How
Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants
(2008), Communities Without Borders (2006), and The Children
of NAFTA: Labor Wars on the US/Mexico Border (2004). His
website is at dbacon.igc.org ]


May Day Rallies Reveal America's True Self - Its Promise and
Its Fear

by Rinku Sen


April 28, 2011


I have two abiding memories from third grade. The first is
of reciting the pledge of allegiance: rows of white, black
and Latino kids (and me, the lone South Asian) taking a deep
breath before the climactic words "with liberty and justice
for all." My other memory is of us kids diving under our
desks when the air raid alarm went off, a practice induced
by Cold War paranoia. Each year as May 1 rolls around, these
two memories stand side by side as I watch corporate media's
response to the day's vibrant marches for immigrant and
labor rights. The inspiring scene of several hundred
thousand very diverse people asserting their Americanness is
followed by the paranoid fantasies of people who see foreign
invasions coming to their home towns.

This weekend, cable news outlets covering the annual May Day
marches will flash images of immigrants holding their
homeland flags, in the long tradition of Americans who are
both proud to be here and proud of their heritage. As
always, there will be relatively few of these flags compared
to the gads of red, white and blue waving above the crowd.
But pundits and reporters - and I don't just mean on Fox -
will nonetheless discuss them as evidence that today's
immigrants are less patriotic than yesterday's. Pat Buchanan
will repeat his tired assertion that "90 percent of today's
immigrants come from countries that have never been
assimilated into any Western civilization."

I'd like to respond with a scoff - "Never assimilated? Yeah,
so what?" But I know that in fact, I am as assimilated as
any other immigrant kid of any other time. Growing up, I
spoke English quickly and learned to like American food.
When I go abroad today, I run around hugging people I don't
know well, a distinctly American informality. I've
assimilated just fine.

Other pundits will argue that this economy cannot
accommodate immigrants. Mark Krikorian, director of the
close-our-borders think tank Center for Immigration Studies,
believes that the U.S. has outgrown its need for immigrants.
The economy has changed too much, he claims, to accommodate
illiterate peasants, or even large numbers of skilled
workers. We have a mature welfare state that has to provide
for all these people, and CIS spends a great deal of its
energy trying to prove (often by including U.S.-born
children of immigrants in their definition) that immigrants
use more public resources than they contribute. Study after
study shows that the opposite is true - check them out here,
here and here.

My father is a great example of how immigrants help to grow
an economy. Dad was a metallurgical engineer, yet, he spent
his first year in the country doing day labor. He got his
first professional job in an aluminum factory in New York's
Hudson River Valley, where I learned to speak English in a
two-room schoolhouse during first grade. He lost and gained
several more jobs after that, as the economy started its
long shift from manufacturing to service-based industries.
When he was about to lose his fourth job, he started his own
home-improvement business. For 16 years, he employed dozens
of white, working-class men. When my mother sold the
business a decade after his death, my father's longest time
employee, a white working class man, bought it and continues
to run it today.

My dad didn't steal a job; he competed for it when he had
the opportunity. He didn't take a loan from someone else;
the bank would have made as many business loans as it could.
He paid all his taxes, as do even most undocumented
immigrants, and he created something long lasting that has
provided livelihoods for many of the sort of men who are now
supposedly represented by the tea party movement.

Some immigration hardliners will say that they reserve their
animus for those who don't go through the proper channels.
These people are lying, according to Krikorian, to make
themselves feel better about their anti-immigration stance.
This is one of the few Krikorian statements with which I
agree. Restrictionists feel the need to cleave immigrants
into good, lawful newcomers and evil cheaters because
migration is so central to so many American experiences. We
can't just leave it behind, as Krikorian would have, without
losing track of who we are as a country. Immigration is as
critical an element of Americanness as is being white.

Since today's immigrants are no longer mostly white, these
two parts of our national identity, migration and whiteness,
are in increasing conflict, aggravated by an economy that's
created few jobs for anyone, immigrant or otherwise. That
conflict played out painfully all this week as Donald Trump
- the epitome of a not-self-made but nonetheless smug white
man - made a president with a migrant father of color
document his birth yet again. That conflict plays out every
time Arizona cops stop a person who "might be illegal." It
plays out each time an immigrant is attacked violently on
the street or in their own home.

Air raid sirens are now anachronisms, the childhood memories
of those of us born before the Cold War's end. The Buchanans
of the world have created a different paranoid drill for
today: racial anxiety about migrants storming our borders.
But nothing can change the fact that the country is indeed
growing browner. If that diversity is accompanied by equity
- the guaranteed right to opportunity, education and
constitutional protections for everybody who lives here -
then we can hope for a future as a unified, vital community.
Without equity, today's immigrants and their descendants
will continue to assert those rights, through May Day
marches, sit-ins, studies and whatever means they can find.

Rather than pushing people out, or turning to an apartheid
system in which a white minority controls a colored
majority, we'll be far better off by taking the many paths
to unity that do exist. We can drop the language of
"illegality," recognizing it for the non-starter that it is.
We can integrate immigrant families, with all their varied
statuses, into American opportunities, as the Maryland
legislature has done by passing its DREAM Act. And we can
speak out for a culture of acceptance, which is the only way
to generate great economies that aren't built on the backs
of people whose rights have been stripped away. Those are
the actions that will allow us to keep a great part of our
identity - that of the enterprising migrant - while letting
go of the notion that only a white American is a real one.

[Rinku Sen is the President and Executive Director of the
Applied Research Center (ARC) and Publisher of
Colorlines.com. She has been a leading figure in the racial
justice movement for the last twenty years, over the course
of her career, Rinku has woven together journalism and
organizing to further social change.

Rinku is the Vice Chair of the Schott Foundation for Public
Education, and is a Boardmember of the Philanthropic
Initiative for Racial Equity. She is the Chair of the Media
Consortium and sits on the boards for Restaurant
Opportunities Center-United and Working America.
Additionally, she is a Prime Movers fellow through the Hunt
Alternatives Fund.]


Wisconsin Solidarity Rally and March for Immigrant and
Worker Rights

Sunday, May 1st at 1:30 pm

5th and Washington St., Milwaukee, Wisconsin

We will gather at 5th and Washington St and then march to
Veteran's Park (1010 N. Memorial Dr.) to rally with AFL-CIO
President Richard Trumka and Director of Voces de la
Frontera Christine Neumann-Ortiz.



Chicago - Haymarket Martyrs Monument Ceremony

Sunday, May 1st at 1:00 pm

Forest Home Cemetery
863 Des Plaines Ave., Forest Park
Next to the Eisenhower (I-290) and Blue Line,
nine miles west of Chicago's downtown

2011 will mark the restoration and rededication of the
Haymarket Martyrs' Monument, the statue of liberty for
workers around the world. As a symbol of international labor
solidarity, come together to honor our history. The ceremony
will have special guest Liz Shuler, secretary-treasurer of
the AFL-CIO, and other dignitaries.

Event flyer -


New York - May Day Rally

Sunday, May 1st -- 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM

Labor Rights, Immigrant Rights, Jobs for All! Guest Speaker:
Arlene Holt-Baker, EVP, AFL-CIO

Foley Square - Worth Street; New York, NY 10001
Between Centre & Lafayette Streets

For More Information: Rachel Mann (212-239-7323)



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