A coalition of New York City unions rallied in Columbus Circle in front of Trump International Hotel and Tower to celebrate International Worker’s Day. At a time where unions rights are under attack more than ever, speakers emphasized the importance of unions to protect and further the interests of workers and undocumented immigrants alike.
Ann Toback, Executive Director of The Workmen’s Circle, a progressive Jewish community that fights for the rights of immigrants and workers, “This May Day we are here to say we stand with our immigrant brothers and sisters. We demand that the United States remains a country where all are free to live, and learn, and here in New York have access to driver’s licenses so everyone can drive.” Toback called on the New York State legislature to pass the Green Light bill. The bill would allow all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status to obtain a driver’s license. Anna, from “Nobody leaves Mid- Hudson,” a grassroots organization for those directly impacted by racial injustice, spoke about the obstacles undocumented immigrants face without a driver’s license. Immigrants who live in areas without a sufficient public transportation system run the risk of arrest and deportation if they are pulled over during routine traffic stops. “I am not a criminal; I’m only a mother,” she said; a mother who wants to be able to drive to work, take her children to school or doctor appointments. Twelve states, as well as Puerto Rico and Washington D.C, provide access to licenses regardless of immigration status. Proponents of the bill argue that it would improve public safety since all drivers are properly licensed and that it would also bring millions of dollars in revenue from license and registration fees.
Members of PSC-CUNY, the Professional Staff Congress union that represents the 30,000 faculty and staff at the City University of New York, demanded fair pay for all and $7000 per course for adjunct faculty who earn near poverty pay and yet teach the majority of CUNY’s classes. The union has been without a contract for 17 months now. Ms. Turner, “CUNY makes higher education accessible not just for the elite but for the working class. CUNY propels six times as many low-income students into the middle class as the top ten colleges in America combined.”
International Worker’s Day or May Day originated in the United States, and it commemorates the uprising of workers in Chicago in May of 1886, also known as the Haymarket Affair, demanding an 8 hour work week.