TAKE THE DAY OFF
Massive Worker Action May 1
By Ellen Thompson
May 1, to many workers around the world, is a day that commemorates the man power and sweat they put into their jobs, not to mention the social and economic achievements of the labor movement.
Throughout most of Central and South America the working class fought to make May 1 a day of their own, an official government- recognized holiday.
Now with the issue of immigration reform taking the national spotlight, many of the United States’ Mexican and South American immigrants are being pushed into that light. Determined to prove the undocumented worker’s worth, unions across the country are turning their day of commemoration into a two-fold event.
“May 1 is a day celebrating the struggles of the eight-hour day,” said Chris Silvera, President of Local 808 in Long Island City and President of the National Teamsters Black Caucus. “And we decided to embrace the struggles of the undocumented workers as well. Their struggles to achieve legal status.”
The embrace of immigrant, labor, community, and progressive organizations throughout Queens could very likely make May 1 “a day without an immigrant,” Silvera said. Dozens of restaurants, gas stations and specialty shops along Roosevelt Avenue from Flushing to Woodside could potentially shut their doors as immigrant workers prove their worth to the system.
“What most workers are doing is asking employers to close their businesses or at least treat the day as a floating holiday,” Silvera said. “We don’t expect 100 percent participation, but we want it to be a day of action.”
From taking 10 minutes from their workday to educate a customer or their family and friends on the plight of the undocumented worker to boycotting, the undocumented worker will have taken a stand for himself.
“We’ve made 10,000 flyers and they’ve made their way into many hands,” said Silvera. “This May 1 could be the hottest day since the labor movements of the 30s and 40s.”