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Labor organizations prepare for May Day march

LOS ANGELES — “Together We Fight Back” will be the theme as the May Day Coalition of Los Angeles holds it annual May 1 march and rally starting at noon from the corner of Sixth Street and South Olive streets downtown.

The coalition, which consists of 50 organizations including labor unions, immigrant rights, faith communities, youth groups, and other social justice advocacy organizations will promote three main issues throughout the one-mile route.

The issues are: defend, protect and respect worker rights, fight against the anti-immigrant agenda and stop the cruel separation of families by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Department and underline the importance of civic engagement in this year’s mid-term elections.

The march will begin in front of the Immigration Family Court building preceded by a rally. It will then wind down Sixth Street, turn left on South Main Street and turn right on East Temple Street. A short rally at the Edward Roybal Federal Building will mark the conclusion of the march.

“We are living at a crucial moment in our nation’s history when inaction is unacceptable,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights. “Our families, values and rights are under siege by an administration with a small heart, large ego and enormous cruelty. On May Day we do honor the struggle of workers and families who this administration ignores and [we] refuse to be silent and invisible.”

Rusty Hicks, president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, is another organizer of the event.

“Whether it is workers in the public or private sector, mixed-status families speaking out against cruel and unjust raids, or communities exercising their right to vote, we stand united in protecting the contributions of working families and fighting this administration’s far-right, racist, xenophobic and anti-immigrant agenda,” Hicks said. “The tragedy in Parkland, [Florida], has sparked a level of awareness in this country among young people that is inspiring to the whole community.”

Last year’s event featured a rally at MacArthur Park followed by a march on Wilshire Boulevard to downtown where the group ended up at Grand Park, across the street from City Hall.

That crowd was larger than the year before but nowhere near the size of the 2006 march that ended up blocking Wilshire Boulevard from downtown to Koreatown as marchers clashed with police.

Organizers held a press conference earlier this month where leaders of participating groups spoke.

“Civic engagement is essential on every level to making positive changes in our communities, not only through voting, but through community organizing and volunteering. We can be leaders today,” said Sage Moloney, student organizer of the March for Our Lives in Los Angeles.

“It is critical to also include and organize to protect sex workers and LGBTQ undocumented immigrants today and every day,” said Jennicet Gutierrez, member of the May Day Trans Queer Contingent. “Our voices, experiences and issues must also be part of the conversation and work,”

“Local 36 stands with all workers in our communities against the attacks by President Trump and his extreme anti-democratic administration,” said Norberto Gutierrez, member of Roofers & Waterproofers Local 36. “Our strength as workers rests in our unity and struggle. As workers we will not be divided by falsities. We demand full legalization for all workers. We support the California Labor Federation’s democratic demand for voting rights in local elections for non-citizen residents. We are committed to whatever is needed to defend our Union and our community from all attacks.”

“Nowhere in my scriptures are working families seen as a burden to the community or to God. In fact, there is a moral obligation to uplift and advocate for those whose rights are in jeopardy,” said the Rev. Frances Rosenau.

“We must confront the reality that the world as we have known it is being torn asunder,” said Michelle Xai of Refuse Fascism. “This requires getting out of our comfort zones and not allowing our differences to stand in the way of rising together in an unprecedented, unrelenting mass struggle to confront the danger of a Trump/Pence fascist America.”

“I became a citizen in 1986, and I have voted in every election,” said Martha Santamaria, executive vice president of Unite Here Local 11. “I encourage all my three American-born children to vote. I have a rule in my house, that when it’s Election Day they have to send me a picture that they have voted, because I know voting equals power.”

“We are determined to safeguard our communities from hatred and acts of xenophobia,” said Martha Arevalo, executive director of CARECEN. “Together, we can and will reach justice for our immigrant communities and every community that has been unfairly targeted by this administration.

“Temporary protected status recipients alone — over 400,000 — will be stripped of their legal working permits and other humanitarian protections without reason. We must continue to band together in the fight of our generation. We are determined to protect our communities and to fight for justice.”

“Unions are the primary reason for the middle class and the backbone of America,” said Alex Sanchez of Teamsters Local 896. “This administration is doing everything possible to allow corporations to strip away worker’s rights and protections that have been gained by unions throughout the years in hard fought battles.”