Labor organizations have planned rallies across America on May 1 in honor of International Workers Day, when demonstrators traditionally protest low wages and poor working conditions.
This year, the May Day rallies will include slogans that have echoed from the streets of Baltimore to Chicago, New York, Oakland, and elsewhere, with unions and worker groups joining forces with those protesting police brutality. It's another sign of the ties between the two movements, manifested by the placards supporting workers' rights, immigrant rights and the Fight for 15 campaign to raise the minimum wage, which have all been common sights at police brutality protests this week.
In effect, movements calling for racial, social, and economic justice are converging, as they have in the past, with labor organizers playing a role. For Friday's May Day demonstrations, labor organizations and unions have listed police brutality as a major grievance to be protested.
The links were clear during a day of national protest by Fight for 15 activists on April 15, when #BlackLivesMatter activists were a strong presence.
And on Wednesday, a rally in New York's Union Square in support of the Baltimore protesters was planned by "organizations that stand for social, racial, and economic justice," according to its Facebook invite. Organizers who had recently returned from Baltimore described the poverty and lack of jobs there, which they said were contributing factors to the both peaceful protests and rioting.
That protesting is set to continue on Friday. Dock workers at the Port of Oakland have said they will shut down the port from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to march against police violence, according to a spokesperson for the port interviewed by the San Francisco Business Times. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents about 1,200 workers there, organized the action with the unusual support of port employers, the report said. Business owners have been notified in advance of the one-day work stoppage, when millions of dollars' worth of cargo will sit unloaded from ships.
In addition to shutting down the Port of Oakland, workers there plan to disrupt the morning commutes of tech workers.
The labor movement's opposition to police brutality has a long history. May 1 was chosen as International Workers Day to commemorate the 1886 Haymarket affair in Chicago. During a strike calling for an eight-hour workday, the police fired on a crowd, killing four demonstrators.
At the New York rally on Wednesday, Erica Garner, the daughter of Eric Garner, who died after being placed in a choke hold by an NYPD officer in Staten Island last summer, spoke in solidarity with protesters in Baltimore. "There's no housing, no jobs," she said. "They're burning down buildings because they're tired. I'm not saying I support them, but I understand them."
Dante Barry, from the organization Million Hoodies For Justice, also spoke in Union Square. "I am here because of the thousands of people who have lost their lives to state violence - violence that looks like the economic exploitation of black lives and the putting in prison of black bodies for profit," he said. "No more deaths by the economic system."
On Friday, the New York City Central Labor Council (NYCCLC), Alliance for Labor Rights, Immigrant Rights, and Jobs for All have planned an "evening of action against income inequality" in New York beginning outside the Park Avenue home of Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton at 4:30 p.m.
The People's Power Assemblies, in solidarity with the May 1st Coalition for Worker and Immigrant Rights, has planned a rally at 3 p.m. and a march at 5 p.m. from Union Square, to show support for the protesters in Baltimore.
Cora Lewis is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Lewis reports on labor.
Contact Cora Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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