On the 102nd day of Donald Trump’s presidency, the resistance he’s sparked from the most vulnerable Americans continued on International Workers Day.
Labor unions, activists, elected officials and others gathered in New York City, New Jersey and around the country to celebrate the hard-fought victories of the labor movement while acknowledging the potential danger they face with a president many people consider anti-labor and pro-corporation.
At Union Square in Manhattan, workers and others rallied in favor of worker rights and making sure Trump hears them loud and clear.
“The Trump administration’s anti-immigrant attack is meant to divide the working class,” read a statement from the Workers World Party. “We must unite to defend migrants in order to defend all workers. On May 2, the movement will defend any worker who faces reprisals for Marching on May Day.”
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka’s statement outlined his belief that corporations have divided Americans and scapegoated Latino workers to cover up for their anti-union and anti-labor behavior.
“The truth is more and more politicians are exploiting the insecurity and pain caused by corporate economic rules for political gain by stoking hatred and scapegoating Mexicans and other Latin American immigrants,” stated Trumka. “We will not be divided like this. Workers north and south of the border find the idea of a border wall to be offensive and stand against the criminalization of immigrant workers. We need real immigration reform that keeps families together, raises labor standards and gives a voice to all workers.”
But not all rallies went off without a hitch. In Seattle, five people were arrested during protests. In Oakland, four people were arrested after blocking a county building by forming a human chain. In Portland, 25 people were arrested after people, who police believe to be anarchists, vandalized property downtown and threw rocks and smoke bombs at officers.
However, the majority of protestors and activists stayed on message. One organization hoped that all workers would stand up to the threat of the Trump administration.
“With the first 100 days of this administration drawing to a close, we come together across movements to uplift people of color, immigrants, workers, women and the LGBTQ community,” stated Judith Browne Dianis, national office executive director of Advancement Project, a racial justice organization. “The first chapter of this administration has meant 100 days of targeting, persecuting and marginalizing those it sees as not belonging in their vision for the country. Fighters in the centuries-old struggle for freedom in this country understood that the path to victory is long and treacherous, and today the racial justice movement is stronger than it has been in decades.”
“In this light, we call on all migrant workers and refugees to stand up against this new face of U.S. imperialism, still the most powerful among the world super-powers,” added the International Migrants Alliance in a statement. “Trump has pitted the U.S. working class against migrant workers and refugees, and so we must strive to create bridges, not bans or walls, to connect our struggles together.”
New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman acknowledged May Day and echoed the phrase that workers’ rights are human rights.
“Among those rights are the right to be paid all earned wages, including minimum wage and overtime, the right to a safe and healthy workplace, the right to organize and to join a union, the right to a job free from discrimination and the right to report violations to the government without facing retaliation,” stated Schneiderman. “These rights extend to all workers, period.”
The state attorney general also said that his office would fill the gap if the Trump administration doesn’t enforce labor laws that activists fought to have signed.
“President Trump’s new Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta has a responsibility to ensure that the agency does its job by enforcing our nation’s labor laws for all workers, including and especially the most vulnerable,” stated Schneiderman.
Some workers used May 1 to not only celebrate labor and its fight but also to continue said fight.
Workers and supporters picketed outside of B&H Photo in Manhattan Monday morning. Afterward, picketers delivered a letter to management stating that they “respect and acknowledge that WE, 300+ B&H warehouse workers and our wives and children, who have been without us, dedicated our lives to building up your operations… for decades.” Workers were protesting conditions in B&H warehouses that they believe are dangerous. In 2015, workers linked up with the Laundry Workers Center and eventually formed a union.
This year, B&H management announced that the company is moving its warehouses from Brooklyn to New Jersey, taking 330 jobs (held mostly by Latinos) with them.
“We are here today to let B&H know that we, the workers, have the power,” said warehouse worker Francisco Pimental, in a statement. “We will not allow B&H to leave over 300 workers without a job.”
And labor rights aren’t reserved just for those with citizenship. In New Jersey, labor, allies and immigrants held a rally at Liberty State Park, pushing back against what they believe are anti-immigrant policies from the Trump administration.
“Liberty State Park, where the Statue of Liberty—which has welcomed generations of immigrants—sits just off the shore, is a fitting location for us to stand in solidarity today and tell the world that we will fight together to ensure America lives up to its promise to continue to be the land of opportunity for all,” stated Kevin Brown, 32BJ vice president and New Jersey state director. “As one of the largest unions representing immigrants, it is our responsibility to uphold our national values, to protect the rights of workers, to protect our right to vote and to fight discrimination and hate. And we pledge to do this on May Day and every day.”
American Civil Liberties Union-New Jersey Interim Executive Director Diane Du Brule said that America needs to practice what it has given lip service to.
“On International Workers’ Day, we’re here to demand that our country stay true to our values as a nation of immigrants—openness, opportunity and a spirit of welcoming,” stated Du Brule. “Immigrants have always made New Jersey great, and we will fight the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant policies so that will remain true for generations to come.”