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Detroit: Union workers, students and oppressed unite on May Day

By Jacob Smith

May Day in Detroit.

Detroit, MI – Hundreds gathered despite near freezing rain on May 1 at Clark Park in Southwest Detroit. This park in the primarily Chicano and immigrant section of Detroit has been the host of several May Day events over the years in coordination with that community and in recognition of the 2006 U.S. boycott and “day without an immigrant” strike.

This May Day event was the result of a cooperation between progressive, labor, and oppressed nationality groups not seen in several years, culminating in the creation of an ongoing “May Day Coalition.” In addition to many cultural performances, members from a variety of organizations spoke including, GEO (Graduate Employee’s Organization), UAW, Teamsters, SEIU, Fight for 15, PSL, Freedom Road Socialist Organizaion, CPUSA, SDS, PYM – Detroit (Palestinian Youth Movement), MECAWI (Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice), and Anakbayan Detroit.

The connections between workers struggles across the world was a recurring theme.

Mixx Hernandez of Anakbayan Detroit pointed out, “Today is International Workers Day and it would be careless not to acknowledge how U.S. imperialism is exploiting people and workers across the globe, enacting violence, using our hard-earned money to do so. So now we ask again, where is all of this money going to? Well I can give you a little hint. Today, right at this very moment the U.S. government is meeting with the Philippine government in a blatant attempt to ramp up militarization for yet another pointless war, this time against China!”

The speaker for the Palestinian Youth Movement – Detroit said, “Palestinian workers have a longstanding history of resistance. On May 18, 2021, we saw Palestinian workers in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza, along with the Palestinians in occupied Palestine join together with their compatriots in the diaspora as the widely observed Dignity Strike. This general strike fits into a much longer history of mobilization by Palestinian workers, recalling previous general strikes from 1936 and 1976.”

Sean Crawford, a UAW member, spoke on the historic opportunity presented by the grassroots victories in the UAW and Teamsters of militant union leadership, the recent victory of the first independent union of GM workers in Mexico, the upcoming concurrent expiration of Big Three contracts in the U.S. and Canada, and the impending UPS Teamsters strike, saying “We have not had this opportunity to coordinate and organize internationally since the 1990s, and with the left-wing caucuses in charge of our unions I think we will be able to take advantage of that and not allow these companies to whipsaw our unions.”

After the rally, attendees took the streets in a march through the main roads and through the neighborhoods with chants such as “From Palestine to Mexico, border walls have got to go!”, “When trans rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up! Fight back!,” “Black lives matter!” “El pueblo unido jamás será vencido!” and when the Detroit Police encroached on the march, “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, fuck 12!”

#DetroitMI #May1 #Socialism