LA community members march to City Hall in support of workers’ rights for May Day
People holding signs march down South Broadway. (Shengfeng Chien/Daily Bruin staff)
Nearly 1,000 community members and supporters marched to Los Angeles City Hall in a worker’s rights demonstration in honor of May Day.
Organized by the LA May Day Coalition, the march began at 5 p.m. on Monday. May Day is an internationally celebrated day for workers that acknowledges the hardships and triumphs of the labor movement.
Groups represented at the event included the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, Young Democratic Socialists of America, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists union, Equality California and the United Teachers Los Angeles union.
The theme of this year’s event was “Solidarity is Power: Right to Unionize, Right to Strike, Right to Housing, & Right to Citizenship.”
Participants of the march held up signs displaying slogans such as “Citizenship is essential” and “Workers make the world run, workers should run the world!” Chants were also interspersed through the march, such as “Whose streets, our streets” and “We are the union.”
Juan Ramirez, the UTLA American Federation of Teachers vice president, said educators join the May 1 event annually as a part of the working class and community. He said teachers demand what they find is best for their schools, including smaller class sizes, care for students with issues at home and housing for homeless students, adding that teachers often advocate for those who do not have a voice to do so.
“I think that people need to understand that,” he said. “Hopefully upcoming people – younger people – realize the power of being united.”
Emi Levings, a fourth-year history and labor studies student, attended the event with a coalition of students and faculty from the labor studies department. She said it’s important that students remain informed about issues affecting the community, such as justice for workers.
“Just because you’re only here in Los Angeles for four years doesn’t mean that you should be apathetic to what happens in the city,” Levings said. “What happens here affects the rest of California and the rest of the country.”
The march began at the intersection of South Broadway and Olympic Boulevard and concluded in front of City Hall in Grand Park, where speakers addressed some of the gathered crowd.
Konstantine Anthony, the mayor of Burbank, said it’s important to acknowledge how labor laws developed to where they are now.
“Look up May Day, look up its history – understand that there was blood, sweat and tears that were fought for the things that many folks take for granted,” he said. “People literally died to get that protection.”
Danielle Hochman, a production coordinator for CHIRLA, said she organizes on behalf of the millions of immigrants who live, work and pay taxes in the United States. She added that she believes, in order to advocate for worker’s rights, one also has to work on behalf of immigrants that may not receive the same protections as citizens.
“Our mission is to have a humane and just society fully inclusive of all immigrants,” Hochman said. “We’re out here today, but we’re in coalition with all the other groups today fighting for workers’ rights.”
Overall, Levings said it’s important as students to support workers and that there are many ways to be active in doing so.
“It’s not enough to just throw your hands up in the air and excuse it by, ‘oh, I’m a student, I’m too busy,’” she said. “Not everyone has to be out on the streets. … But standing in solidarity with workers, both on campus and off, is incredibly important.”