Monday, May 04, 2009

May Day: A Call for the Economic Rights of All Workers

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker-based human rights organization joined with thousands of the nation’s workers, immigrant and refugee families in celebrations that started on May 1st. Additional activities were scheduled to take place during the coming week.

May Day, a day started by workers in the United States, which called for a shorter workday and the right to organize, has taken on greater meaning as the global economic crisis impacts workers in every country and across borders.

“Local communities are an essential part of the nation and the global economic engine. Workers are reeling from plant closures, layoffs and an uncertain future. All workers -- immigrant and non-immigrant --deserve a decent livable wage, health benefits and the ability to take care of their families. The precarious reality of immigrant families is that they are being torn apart, raids continue and the detention industrial complex has grown. Without inherent changes in current immigration policy, every worker will suffer,”
commented Gabriel Camacho, AFSC staff in the Greater Boston area.

Families and community allies throughout the nation highlighted the need for humane immigration policy and the protection of worker rights. Immigrant and non-immigrant workers, faith-based organizations, community organizations and others held vigils, marches, rallies and meetings to call attention to a system that is out of synch with the country’s economic, demographic, social and political realities.

In Morristown (NJ), AFSC participated in a community hearing that focused on 287(g), an agreement that encourages collusion and cooperation between federal immigration agencies and the local police. Amy Gottlieb, director of AFSC's Newark-based immigrant rights program served on the panel and observed, "Actions such as 287(g) do nothing but increase fear and jeopardize the public safety of every community. We need to move toward sensible and humane immigration policy, not reactive and punitive measures."

Earlier this year the Service Committee released A New Path, a report with specific recommendations to President Obama and the 111th Congress. A copy of the report is available at

May Day 2009
AFSC supported or co-sponsored the following events:

NATION’S CAPITOL - WASHINGTON, DC: “March for Justice: Keep Families Together”
Friday, May 1 at 3:00pm – March to the White House - For information contact

ARIZONA, TUCSON: March for Immigrant and Worker Rights
Friday, May 1st March and Rally at Southgate Shopping Center, march to Armory Park
For more information:

CALIFORNIA, San Diego: “Workers Rights are Human Rights”
Friday, May 1st – March and rally organized by the May 1st Coalition, supported by AFSC

CALIFORNIA, Oakland: “Stop the Raids and Deportations”
Friday, May 1st – rally and march to City Hall

CONNETICUT, New Haven - “Workers of the World Unite”
Friday, May 1st - Gathering followed by evening march for immigrant rights (AFSC co-sponsor). For information contact:

COLORADO, Greeley - “Reconstructing our Communities Unity March”
Saturday, May 2nd - Organized by Al Frente de la Lucha, endorsed by AFSC
For more information contact:

FLORIDA, Miami – “End the Raids and Deportations”
Friday, May 1st – Solidarity March and Rally
For more information:

MASSACHUSETTS, Boston - Respect the Dignity of Immigrant Workers!
Community march and rally organized by the “Chelsea Coalition” of East Boston, Chelsea and Everett, co-sponsored by AFSC - For information call Chelsea Collaborative at (617) 889-6080

NEW JERSEY, Morristown – “A Community Conversation the 287(g)
Saturday, May 2nd – Sponsored by Wind of the Spirit and cosponsored by AFSC Newark Immigrant Rights Program

OREGON, Portland - “March for Immigrant and Workers’ Rights”
Friday, May 1st – Community celebration, rally and march
For more information:

RHODE ISLAND, Providence - May Day Rally
Friday, May 1 – Community Presence and Gathering at ICE Headquarters
Contact Person:

TEXAS, Austin: - “March for Just and Humane Immigration Policy”
Friday, May 1st – Rally at Texas Capitol
Sponsors: Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition, American Friends Service Committee, NICA, Grassroots Leadership and others - For further information contact: