In East Boston yesterday, chants of “Si se puede!” echoed throughout the city as more than 1,000 immigrant workers and community allies descended on Central Square in a massive call for improved wages, safer working conditions and comprehensive immigration reform. Under the shared banner of “Stop the attacks on working families!,” the unprecedented marches from Boston, Chelsea, Everett and Revere converged outside the East Boston Social Center in celebration of International Workers’ Day, also known as May Day.
With roots in the American struggle for the 8-hour workday, International Workers’ Day is celebrated in more than 80 countries around the world as a day to commemorate the ongoing fight for workers’ rights. Yesterday’s Boston-area celebration came as the debate over immigration reform intensifies in Washington – along with several pending bills on Beacon Hill affecting low-income and immigrant workers at the state level.
Across the country, International Workers’ Day events echoed the call for immigration reform in cities from New York to Milwaukee to Salem, OR. And in Boston, more than fifty community groups came together for the 14th annual May Day march and rally. Among the crowd of 1,000 were hundreds of low-wage immigrant workers – many of whom are in the midst of local battles for better wages and working conditions.
“I marched today in solidarity with my fellow airport workers who are struggling to make ends meet on minimum wage,” said Yahya Bajinka, a West African immigrant who works in aviation services at Logan Airport. “We shouldn’t have to work multiple jobs in sweatshop conditions just to get by. It’s time for change at Logan.”
For more information on how to get involved in the call for commonsense immigration reform and other campaigns for workers’ rights, check out MassUniting.org