The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 74/No. 19      May 17, 2010

More union contingents
join L.A. May Day rally
LOS ANGELES—Tens of thousands of people poured into the streets for the May 1 march through downtown. The Los Angeles Times estimated the size at 60,000, while TV news stations reported 100,000. It was the largest May Day turnout here since 2006.

The marchers were overwhelmingly working class, with more union contingents than in recent actions. One of the largest was from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Pablo López, a janitor and SEIU member, said, “There’s been a lot of discussion about this in the union. We don’t want the Arizona law to pass in other places.”

López said workers are already feeling the effect of stepped-up enforcement by the Barack Obama administration. The contractor he works for has been doing phone interviews with employees to verify their immigration status, and some have been fired. “Another company fired 230 workers for not having papers,” he said. “That’s why we’re here.”

López’s daughter, Dalia, said a lot of her classmates at Maywood Academy High School were marching. “This is not just for Mexicans—it’s for all races to be treated equally,” she said. “There’s a family we know where the father was deported. That would be very scary.”

Lilia Guzman, a high school teacher who has been laid off for nearly a year, gave another example of what undocumented workers already face. “I know a man who is working hard, but every time he gets pulled over by the police for a little thing he has his car taken away because he can’t get a driver’s license. He has spent thousands of dollars buying cars, so that he can support his family.”

“This march was different from 2006,” University of California student Karen Aguilar said in an interview. “There were more African Americans this time. This country works overtime to divide us, but at the end of the day, we have more in common to embrace than differences.”

Two young Black workers, one of whom said he was a former U.S. soldier, held a homemade sign that read, “Afro-American Supports Latino Brothers.”

In the last two weeks, as debate heated up over the anti-immigrant law in Arizona, the protest was heavily promoted in the Spanish-language media. Two days before the march, Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa gave a press conference calling for a boycott of Arizona during which he “urged people to march with white shirts, U.S. flags, and trash bags in a peaceful demonstration of immigrants’ desires to work and participate in U.S. civic life,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

Marvin Tuchez said he didn’t appreciate Villaraigosa’s claim to champion immigrant workers. “He’s throwing truckers into the streets!” he declared. Tuchez explained he had been working as a port truck driver, but has had to park his truck since last December because of new regulations that don’t allow older trucks to enter the ports. The mayor has been a major supporter of the Clean Truck Program, which puts the burden of reducing pollution at the ports on the back of truck drivers.
Related articles:
Quarter million marchers demand immigrant rights
Phoenix rally: ‘We don’t run! We will stay!’
Vandals attack immigrant rights group
Immigrant rights strengthen labor
Atlanta rally condemns ICE arrests
Mushroom workers rally on May Day Partial list of May Day actions in the U.S.  
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