May Day march to focus on workers, immigrants and black and brown unity

Over a dozen of Long Beach’s community organizations say they will be highlighting local worker issues during this Wednesday’s May Day march and rally, which coincides with International Workers’ Day.

Known as the May Day Long Beach coalition, groups include the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition, Filipino Migrant Center, Red Earth Defense, Housing Long Beach, Long Beach Forward and the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.

James Suazo, the coalition’s spokesman, said the groups hope to spotlight local issues and connect them to “the exploitation and privatization working people” face in other countries.

Suazo pointed to the protests and strikes by misclassified Filipino workers of the NutriAsia company, considered the “Heinz” of the Philippines. Last summer a Long Beach resident was injured and arrested while documenting the ongoing strike.

In Long Beach, those issues include working conditions teachers face, indigenous issues and sexual assaults faced by hotel workers (community groups won a major victory with the passage of a ballot initiative last year that required large hotels to require panic buttons).

The ongoing housing crisis that has displaced multiple of the city’s renters due to rent hikes will also be discussed.

Renters and hotel workers were the focus of last year’s May Day along with a call to make Long Beach a sanctuary city. The City Council eventually made strides in the direction advocates were hoping, including with the implementation of a legal defense fund for immigrants facing deportation.

“We want people to understand that working people across the globe may face exploitation in different forms but the root causes of racial and economic discrimination are the same and our unity—across our racial differences—give us strength and make us powerful,” Suazo said.

For these reasons Suazo said it’s important to have black and brown unity and “to acknowledge that capitalism uses racism to keep us divided.”

The event this Wednesday, May 1 will begin with a rally and speakers at 5:30 p.m. at MacArthur Park, 1321 E. Anaheim St., followed by a march starting at 5:55 p.m. and heading a mile north to Martin Luther King Jr. Park, 1950 Lemon Ave., where a closing rally with performances will take place at 6:40 p.m.

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Stephanie Rivera is the community engagement editor for the Long Beach Post. After graduating from CSULB with a degree in journalism, Stephanie worked for Patch Latino and City News Service before coming to the Long Beach Post in 2015.
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