Up, up with Workers’ Rights!

May Day is coming up in just a couple of weeks and there is certainly plenty of reasons to come out this year.

Economic Justice for All!

Sustainable jobs for all!

Quality Health Care for all!
 Money for human needs, not war!
 Pass the Employee Free Choice Act!
 Tax the corporations, banks and wealthy!
 Stop the ICE Raids and End the Detentions!
 Comprehensive Immigration Reform NOW!
 No bailouts for the banks or corporations!
  Stop evictions and foreclosures, 
housing is a human right!




 Around the world, International Workers Day is celebrated on May 1st, as a reminder of workers rights struggles, and is characterized by massive street demonstrations celebrating past struggles or advocating for ongoing workers rights issues. Famously, a 1886 May Day demonstration in Chicago’s Haymarket Sqaure led to deaths of over a dozen people, including police, and the aftermath put 4 activists to death for their political beliefs. Throughout the past Century, while the official Labor Day holiday is thought of as a good chance to get a late-summer vacation in, workers have claimed May 1st as their own.

In 2006, May Day rallies across the country took on a new and revitalized importance, as millions of people flooded the streets in support of immigration reform. And this year, as Obama vows to hold good on his campaign promise to rework federal immigration laws, giving undocumented people a path to citizenship, immigrants and their allies across the country are again organizing to come out in huge numbers. See here for yesterday’s New York Times front page article talking about Obama’s immigration agenda.

In 2009, with the larger economic landscape this year, the two identities of May Day as a day for Workers’ Rights and a day for Immigrants’ Rights are coming together.

Immigrants’ Rights are Workers’ Rights!!

Right now, there are 12 million undocumented people in the US. Companies LOVE these this kind of worker, one that will work for low wages with no benefits, agree to be paid under the table, endure egregious workers’ rights violations and abuse in the workplace, and still be unlikely to fight for a union. This is a large sector of the workforce that essentially has no ability to organize or to enforce their rights. So what is the result on the entire workforce of having this group of folks? You tell me . . . lower wages? with no benefits? less ability to organize? So let’s get workers on the same page, united, and then lets fight for workers rights!!

With this in mind, what is your group doing to celebrate May Day in your community? Organize your own public march? Take on a workers’ rights issue for the month of May? Carpool to one of the big marches being planned in Salem or in Portland? Get in touch with cara@rop.org for ideas or information.

In Solidarity,

PS. Along with Just and Humane Immigration Reform, here are two VERY important workers’ rights issues that we must take up this May Day:

The Panama Free Trade Agreement. Free Trade agreements with Mexico (NAFTA), and Central American countries (CAFTA) have shown that workers on both sides of the border come out losers with corporate-backed agreements. These agreements have led to the massive loss of jobs in the US, and equally massive increase in poverty south of the border resulting in immigration to the US. Every step the Obama administration takes today sets a precedent for the next 4 years – and this is the first Free Trade agreement that he will make a decision about. The good news is that Obama has shown that he does know how to listen and respond to public pressure. The bad news is that we’re not loud enough yet to prevent the introduction of the Panama Free Trade Agreement. The Oregon Fair Trade Campaign has information on how to make your voice heard!

The Employee Free Choice Act. After receiving wide support in Congress during campaign season, many of our Representatives have been backpedaling in their support for the Employee Free Choice Act. The only explanation of this is that the corporate lobby is hard at work. The question here is simple: are our Congress members FOR workers rights, or AGAINST workers rights? To find out more about how to take action around this issue, see Jobs with Justice.