Hundreds march in Seattle for International Workers Day
Seattle, WA – On May 1, around 500 workers and activists gathered to celebrate May Day, at the annual march and rally held by El Comité and the May 1st Action Coalition.
The rally began at the Henry M. Jackson Federal Building, where attendees heard from immigrants, labor leaders, indigenous groups and community members on the 137th anniversary of International Workers Day.
Felicitas (Feli) Hernandez, a prep lead at Homegrown sandwiches and a member of Unite HERE Local 8, took the stage soon after the event kicked off. Workers at Homegrown have been fighting for a strong contract with the company for the last several months. “Tomorrow we will be presenting our economic demands to the company and we want to send a clear message: Respect us and pay us what we deserve!” proclaimed Hernandez, speaking through an interpreter. An immigrant herself, Hernandez also spoke out about the protections Homegrown workers have been fighting for to protect immigrants in the contract, which include translation and barring the company from working with ICE.
After the first speakers, the march began towards Denny Park, passing through the heart of Seattle and the Amazon sphere buildings. Chants of “Long live international solidarity” and “What's disgusting? Union busting!” rang out from the crowd. A large contingent organized by FRSO Seattle also led chants calling to “Free Alex Saab,” a Venezuelan diplomat being held illegally in the U.S.
At Denny Park, speeches continued with rank-and-file Teamster Dean Matthews speaking about the upcoming fight with UPS when the national contract expires in July. “This is going to be a defining moment, not just for the Teamsters, but the whole working class!” declared Matthews. Speakers also talked about the upcoming APEC conference, a meeting of top corporate and government officials from the U.S. and Asian-Pacific countries which is coming to Seattle in August. “We are going to protest and fight back against APEC for the whole three weeks they are here,” said Jess Rojas, from Pacific Northwest People over Profit.
The May Day celebration will continue on May 7 with a panel on labor and immigrant organizing hosted by FRSO Seattle. Organizers there will be sharing about their local campaigns and plans to continue fighting back on the shop floor and the streets.