Activists to flex muscle on May Day

Lisa Neff, Staff writer

April outrage brings May marches — and perhaps the largest general strike in a decade or more.

April is ending with marches to protest the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back environmental regulations, erase evidence of climate change, muzzle scientists and boost profiteering on public lands.

May will open with marches and a general strike to protest the president’s policies against workers and immigrants.

“We are striking on May Day to defend the rights of immigrants and refugees and to beat back the attack on civil rights directed against the LGBTQ community, African Americans, women and many others,” said Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera, the state’s leading immigrant rights group. “We are fighting back against the Trump and Ryan assault on economic rights, against their efforts to make the rich richer while saying kids and seniors are undeserving of food and health care.”

An early count indicates actions will take place in more than 150 cities May 1. Hundreds of thousands of workers may take part.

Some organizers are comparing expectations for May Day 2017 to the first Day Without Immigrants in 2006, when an estimated 1 million workers walked off their jobs.

Others expect this year’s general strike to be even larger, possibly the largest in 70 years.

“Since Donald Trump took office, not a month has passed without nationwide demonstrations of resistance, including two strikes — the Day Without an Immigrants in February and A Day Without a Woman in March,” said activist Felicity Makepeace of Madison. “I won’t rest. We won’t rest. We’re going to shut it all down May 1.”

‘We will not sit by’

The May Day strike, marches and other events involve Voces de la Frontera, the Food Chain Workers Alliance, Fair Immigration Reform Movement, National Guest Worker Alliance, Interfaith Worker Justice, National Day Laborer Organizing Network, Service Employees International Union United, Service Workers West, Movement for Black Lives, Alliance for Fair Food, Immigrant Workers Union, and many others.

More than a dozen calls for a general strike were issued this spring by organizations and coalitions committed to this statement:

“We will not sit by as families are shattered by immigration raids, Native sovereignty is violated, Muslims are banned and Black and Brown communities face even more criminalization, trans people are excluded and while corporate interests drive down wages, safety protections, organizing rights and rapidly destroy the environment.”

Madison, Milwaukee marches

In Madison, a May Day march takes place at 11 a.m., beginning at Brittingham Park and going to the Capitol to rally.

In Milwaukee, a May Day march — dubbed a “Pilgrimage for Justice” — begins at noon at 1027 S. Fifth St., headquarters of Voces de la Frontera, which offers sample student permission slips and “letters to employers” for strikes on its website at vdlf.org/maydaytoolkit.

“We have no fear,” said Omar Angel Pérez of the National Guest Worker Alliance. “We are organizing our communities to defend our rights. On May 1, we are taking the streets and Trump will hear our voices. ¡Ya Basta! Enough is enough.”

Did you know?

May 1 is May Day and International Workers Day. At the 1904 International Socialist Conference in Amsterdam, a resolution passed calling on “all Social Democratic Party organisations and trade unions of all countries to demonstrate energetically on the First of May for the legal establishment of the 8-hour day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace.”