Tuesday, May 03, 2005

May Day in NYC: Labor, Antiwar, Community Activists Unite on International Workers Day


Working People Across the Globe March on International Workers Day
New York March Unites Labor, Community, Youth, Antiwar and Immigrant Rights Activists

In this email:
1) May Day: Hundreds of thousands of workers take to the streets around the globe
2) May Day in NYC
3) How you can get involved

May Day: Hundreds of thousands of workers take to the streets around the globe

Millions of workers, all around the globe from Mozambique to Manila marched on Sunday in May Day rallies and marches demanding a living wage, the right to organize, and immigrant rights and in opposition to U.S. aggression..

In Germany, more than half a million workers rallied against layoffs and demanding an increase in wages.

In Bangladesh, thousands of workers rallied in Dhaka to demand a living wage and better safety standards, just weeks after a garment factory collapsed, killing 73 workers.
In Nepal, thousands attended two peaceful marches in the capital city Kathmandu, calling for the U.S.-backed King Gyanendra to end to martial law.
In Japan, hundreds of thousands marched calling for a global ban on nuclear weapons, as the 60th anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki approaches this year.
In the Philippines, more than 10,000 marched through the streets of Manila against the puppet government President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In Cuba, more than a million rallied in Havana, where they celebrated the role of working people and condemned U.S. aggression.

In Russia, twenty thousand trade unionists marched down Tverskaya Street, one of Moscow's main boulevards, demanding a living wage.

In Turkey, workers organized three different rallies in Istanbul, despite a government ban on May Day events.

In Mozambique, at least 30,000 marched through the streets of Maputo, under the slogan, "Mozambican workers in the struggle against HIV/AIDS."  Marchers also demanded an increase in the minimum wage and back wages for factory workers, some of whom haven't been paid for months.

May Day in NYC

In New York City, a unique and historic May Day march and rally was called by a coalition of labor, antiwar, community, and immigrant rights activists.

The Million Worker March Movement and the Troops Out Now Coalition, organizers of the event, were initially told by the NYPD that the city would not issue a permit for any May Day march, to any location, on any route.  The two coalitions, determined to march, organized a campaign, involving thousands of phone calls, emails, faxes, and letters to the Mayor and the NYPD, as well as the threat of a law suit, that forced the city to back down.

More than a thousand turned out for the rally, with the march swelling to 1,500 as passers by stopped and joined in.

The lineup of speakers at the rally points to the political significance of this event, a first effort to revive May Day in the U.S., as progressive labor leaders joined with immigrant rights activists, antiwar activists, and international solidarity organizers to proclaim solidarity with the struggles of working and oppressed people across the globe.

The program began with a recorded message
Speakers included:
  • Clarence Thomas, ILWU, Million Worker March co-convener
  • Brenda Stokely, President of DC 1707 AFSCME, Million Worker March co-convener
  • Gerardo Cajamarca, SINALTRAINAL – exiled Colombian unionist
  • Samia Halaby, Defend Palestine
  • Chris Silvera, Chair of the Teamsters National Black Caucus
  • Charles Barron and Margarita Lopez, members of the New York City Council
  • Narciso Castillo, Accion 21 Immigrant Rights NJ
  • Teresa Gutierrez, NY Committee to Free the Cuban Five
  • Larry Holmes, Troops Out Now Coalition
  • Carl Webb, member of the National Guard who refused to deploy to Iraq
  • Nana Soul, Blackwaxx Recordings, Artists & Activists United for Peace
  • Bernier Achilles, Haiti Support Network
  • Jesse Heiwa, Queers for Peace and Justice
  • LeiLani Dowell, FIST (Fight Imperialism- Stand Together)
  • Sara Flounders, International Action Center
  • Dustin Langley, No Draft, No Way
  • Tylon Usavior, Blackwaxx Recordings
  • Erik Anders-Nilsson, Jersey City Peace Movement
  • representatives from Casa Freehold, an immigrants rights organization in Freehold, NJ
  • and other labor and community organizers
  • Cultural performances by Spiritchild, Foundation, Catherine Moon, & Billionaires for Bush
The highlight of the day was a spirited march down busy 14th St., which stopped at several non-union retail outlets, including Dwayne Reade and Whole Foods.  The march also stopped in front of Beth Israel, a major medical complex that is facing budget cuts, layoffs, and potential closing.  Marchers chanted ,"Healthcare, Not Warfare!"

The march ended with a short closing rally in Union Square.

Police demonstrated their frustration at being forced to grant a permit by storming the stage at the very minute the sound permit expired at 5:00 pm.

The Revive May Day March was called for last October at the Million Worker March in Washington DC more than 6 months ago. When organizers of Troops Out Now Coalition and United For Peace and Justice  met just prior to May Day, the  Troops Out Now Coalition proposed that messages of unity in opposition
to U.S. war be exchanged.  Leslie Cagan, on behalf of UFPJ, sent a message defending the right to march to the Bloomberg Administration, when NYC Police Department originally denied Troops Out Now and Million Worker March the right to hold a march on May Day.

The Troops Out Now Coalition offered a unity statement in support of the thousands who marched from the UN to Central Park that read, in part, "Even though our movement will be gathering in different parts of NYC, let no one be mistaken, our messages overlap, and our arms are locked in solidarity with each other."

How you can get involved:

1)  Contact us to find out how you can help & to receive important updates: http://www.troopsoutnow.org/comments.html

2) Form a local organizing center: http://www.troopsoutnow.org/may1orgcentsignup.html

3) Donate to help with organizing expenses: http://www.troopsoutnow.org/donate.html


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