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May Day events focus on immigrant rights

By Karl Swinehart and Geoff Bailey | April 27, 2001 | Page 14

ACTIVISTS ACROSS the country are preparing for events to celebrate May Day, the international workers' holiday.

--Los Angeles immigrant rights, community and labor groups are planning a May Day march to call for a broad legalization program for immigrant workers. More than 6 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. face abuse, exploitation and rotten living conditions.

Last year, the Korean Immigrant Worker Association (KIWA) organized a May Day march of 400 against the Elephant Snack restaurant in Koreatown. "The march woke Koreatown up," KIWA organizer Elizabeth Sunwoo told Socialist Worker. "That demonstration laid the basis for this year's mobilization."

KIWA joined with the Filipino Workers Center and the Coalition for Humane Immigration Reform-LA to create the Multi-ethnic Immigrant Worker Organizing Network. The network brought together other organizations representing around 3,000 members, potentially making this year's demonstration the largest LA has seen in decades.

--In Boston, a historic coalition has come together to organize this year's May Day March for Workers' Rights. As part of the national amnesty campaign for undocumented workers, the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, the Joint Council of Painters, Jobs with Justice and the General Amnesty Coalition have joined forces to organize a March for Immigrant Rights. The AFL-CIO Executive Council, which last year came out in support of the national amnesty call, is sponsoring the event, and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney is expected to attend.

General Amnesty Coalition member Katia Lémos described the confidence given to undocumented Brazilian workers at a recent amnesty rally in New York: "We had 25 Brazilians in the bus back--all undocumented...And they started to sing, 'We are not afraid. We are not afraid. We shall overcome someday.'" The May 1 march will kick off a statewide campaign to pressure the legislature to pass a resolution in favor of amnesty.

--The Organizing Committee for Workers Rights in New York City is mobilizing for a rally and concert in Union Square on May 1 with the demand "Amnesty for all immigrants--present and future!" Protesters will march through the garment district and then take their demand for international workers' rights to the International Monetary Fund headquarters.

For more information on May Day events in your city, call your local ISO branch.

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