UE members in Chicago, Milwaukee and Los Angeles participated in mass marches on May 1, International Workers’ Day, focused on the fight for the rights of immigrant workers in the U.S.
Over 50 UE members were among the more than 150,000 marchers in Chicago, birthplace of May Day as a world labor holiday. UE’s contingent included members of Locals 1101, 1110 and former Local 1104.
In Milwaukee some 80,000 people marched through city streets. Their demands included rights for immigrant workers, a path to citizenship, and an end to raids by U.S. ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) which have taken parents away from their children and intimidated workers who stand up for their rights at work and attempt to organize. The march, organized by Voces de la Frontera, was larger than last year’s, and stretched more than a mile and a half.
UE Local 1103 negotiated permission from the employer, Tramont Corp., for workers to leave the plant without penalty to attend Milwaukee’s May Day march. As a result of this agreement, “we had about 60 workers attend the demonstration,” says Local President Lauro Bonilla. “Most of them were Latino workers, but a number of African-American members went also.”
Several members of Local 1421 joined the second of two May Day marches in Los Angeles. Tens of thousands of people – including many families with children – started in Koreatown and proceeded through Central American and Mexican neighborhoods. The march had a city permit and was entirely legal and peaceful – until demonstrators were violently attacked by police. Fortunately for their sake, the UE members had left the rally by the time Los Angeles police on motorcycles attacked marchers near MacArthur Park, and then police assaulted marchers with clubs and fired into the crowd with rubber bullets. Police also attacked members of the news media, resulting in widespread criticism of the attacks and calls for an independent investigation.
“There is no other movement in this country that can bring people out in these numbers,” notes UE Western Region President Carl Rosen. “People are determined to stop the raids by ICE. It’s widely recognized that the raids are part of a political game of chicken between the Bush administration and the Democrats. But it’s working people who pay the price in this game.”