May Day Protester To Trump: Don’t Throw Us Away Like ‘Day-Old Bread’
Hundreds and thousands of workers are planning to walk off the job to protest Trump's policies
On May 1, workers, labor organizers and supporters of those groups throughout the U.S. will strike for this year’s International Workers’ Day – the first of the Trump administration – in what is expected by many advocacy groups to be one of the most important workers’ strikes in more than a decade.
The May Day strike is the latest demonstration to act as a call to arms for labor workers to stand up for their rights during the time of President Donald Trump. The protest follows a similar call to action as February’s “Day Without Immigrants,” which shut down businesses and restaurants nationwide. There have been numerous protests during the first 100 days of the Trump administration, including the Women’s March on the day after the inauguration, which was one of the largest protests in U.S. history with an estimated 4 million demonstrators nationwide. This week, Vocativ found that there have been at least 366 protests attended by at least 1,000 people throughout the U.S. since Trump’s inauguration.
Among cities across the U.S., New York is expected to be one of the bigger players for Monday’s protest. In February, around 1,000 Yemeni bodegas shut down for a day in protest of Trump’s initial push for the travel ban on citizens traveling from seven Muslim-majority countries. At Tom Cat Bakery in Queens, several workers, many of whom had worked at the bakery for more than a decade and had been protesting for the last month, were fired earlier this month following a Department of Homeland Security audit of the business, according to a statement to Vocativ released from Brandworkers, a non-profit organization that supports workers in the food industry.
A couple of the workers said that they will continue to fight, and will join Brandworkers in organizing workers across the city to strike on May 1. Henry Rivera, 29, who had worked for Tom Cat for 11 years, will protest to show the country the importance of immigrant workers and that they refuse to be tossed like “day-old bread,” the statement said. Hector Solis, 45, who had worked at Tom Cat for 12 years, will protest to signal to the Trump administration that immigrant workers are an integral part of the country and won’t be separated from their families or communities.
The last time an uprising of workers this large took place was on May 1, 2006, when an estimated 1.5 million people took to the streets in one of the most significant protests for immigrants in U.S. history. The 2006 protests also helped established May Day, traditionally a day for action by the labor movement, as one that includes immigrant rights, which had come to be considered an essential part of the work force. Daniel Gross, founder and executive director of Brandworkers, told BuzzFeed that the momentum from the 2006 protests hasn’t been replicated on May 1 since then.
The momentum behind Monday’s momentum is exhilarating, Saru Jayaraman, co-director of Restaurant Opportunities Center United, a food workers advocacy group, told Vocativ. Jayaraman said that while International Worker’s Day has traditionally been a day to advocate for labor rights, the push in resisting an array of the Trump administration’s policies has given the day a larger meaning.
“In the same way that the Women’s March the day after inauguration was called by a group of women, but ended up being really a march against the Trump agenda, I think the same thing is true here,” she said.