A number of immigrant, labor and progressive organizations joined the May 1 Coalition for Worker & Immigrant Rights at an April 29 press conference in front of the Manhattan office of Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to announce plans for May Day 2013 in New York. Immigrant rights groups expressed their concern and disappointment with the “Gang of 8” proposal on immigration reform. The eight refers to the number of senators — Democrats (including Schumer) and Republicans — who are the main architects of this divisive bill.
Groups will gather beginning at 12 noon at Union Square at 14th Street and Broadway in Manhattan on May 1, and they be joined at 4 p.m. with the Labor and Immigrant Alliance as well as the Occupy Wall Street Movement in a united citywide demonstration.
Speakers at the press conference included:
Denise Romero, of the Migrant Power Alliance, said, “I am a Dream activist. I can get legalization through the Gang of 8 legislation. But I will not accept it as long as my brother or parents cannot.”
Denise brought everyone to tears as she explained that the current legislation is not what everyone has been fighting for all these years.
Margarito Lopez, of the Laundry Workers Center, said, “I did not come here risking my life unless I had to. We are not criminals. All we want is to look after and take care of our families. We are not asking for legalization. We are demanding it.” Margarito is a worker at Hot & Crusty, where workers waged a heroic and successful struggle for recognition of their union in 2012.
Joshua Duah, also of Laundry Workers Center, from Guyana, is a worker at Dishes, a restaurant where a current organizing campaign is being fought.
Fahad Ahmed, of DRUM, described why they are marching on May Day and emphasized that everybody except immigrants were at the table in writing the current legislation. He said his coalition, Immigrant Communities in Action, is planning to bring about 1,000 people to Union Square on May Day.
Chris Silvera, of Teamsters Local 808, called on all unions to fight for legalization. Because city workers do not have contracts right now, he stated that the May Day march will end at City Hall to demand contracts.
Chuck Kaufman, visiting from Arizona, represented the Tucson May 1 Coalition. He said the current legislation means billions more money for militarization of the border, which only means more deaths of workers.
Larry Holmes, of the People’s Power Assembly and the International Action Center, solidified his organizations’ call for legalization and workers’ rights. He invited everyone to Baltimore on May 11 for a Poor People’s March where all these issues will be addressed and a national fightback will be launched.
The press conference was co-chaired by Teresa Gutierrez, of the May 1 Coalition, and Christine Hilo, a Filipina activist also with the May 1 Coalition.
For more information, call Gutierrez at 917.328.6470 or visit www.may1.info.