January 1st and April 1st are both holidays, but no one died for them. May 1st is for us workers.
But we had to fight like hell for it. Originally created to memorialize those killed in the Haymarket strikes it’s an international day of solidarity. We stand together with those who died in Chicago to organize their workplaces, for sustainable wages to support their families, for basic human dignity.
The battle isn’t over. On May Day 2007, LAPD’s Metro Division unleashed havoc on non-violent demonstrators, injuring several with the indiscriminate use of force. 146 projectiles were fired by officers against an unarmed crowd, causing dozens of injuries. We think of this as something that happens in other countries. And it does. That’s why May Day is international workers day.
Larry Itliong lead the first major strikes of farmworkers here in California. The Filipino community organized to demand and win better wages, building bridges to the Mexican farmworkers that also worked the fields. One of the fathers of the west coast labor movement, his legacy is celebrated in Los Angeles and beyond.
Our history is a history of fighting for things that we take for granted: 8 hour work days, 40 hour work weeks, health insurance, workplace safety, minimum wage, and non-discrimination protections. None of these things were given. They were won by the workers and communities that organized in their own defense. And that struggle continues right here in District 53.
Recently Lyft launched its IPO raising $20 billion in one day…and slashed wages for drivers. Thousands of gig economy workers staged a digital strike to protest working conditions, but executives have ignored them. Lyft and Uber demand long hours for low wages and no benefits, lobbying tooth and nail to keep their “contractors” unable to escape the debt trap. They even finance cars at usurious rates, so the less-than-broke can be exploited.
The battleground has changed but the tactics are the same: wealthy bosses exploit workers. They keep them divided and use confusing rhetoric of “opportunity” to disguise their plan. But on May Day we remember. The rideshare union and Larry Itliong both saw injustice and knew whose fault it was. Today we share his mission to build bridges and show the strength of our communities.
Whether they win is up to us. Representatives like Miguel Santiago aren’t seen on the picket line. They might gladhand with bosses or hide in Sacramento. Chris Roth marched with Fight for $15, teachers, and tenants rights organizations. He and thousands of others demanded their rights. He saw the power of solidarity, the message that rings as true as it did in Chicago more than a century ago. Divided we beg, united we win.
Team Chris can’t do this without you. We need you to get involved and spread the word about what we can achieve when we unite:
Today I want to invite you to my campaign, to join my team as we push for the strongest protections for workers and families. Together we will ensure living wages for everyone, healthcare for everyone, and clean power for everyone. Los Angeles is the future, and together we will make it the brightest future possible.
We’ll be at MacArthur Park to celebrate and build solidarity with working Angelenos and we hope to see you out there. Today is the day we celebrate each other to create the world we deserve.
Let’s be bold.