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New Orleans labor movement marches to end to attacks on workers

By Lucas Harrell

Workers and supporters take to the streets against anti-labor attacks. | Fight Back! News/staff

New Orleans, LA – Workers took to the streets on April 6, successfully blocking traffic throughout the heart of the central business district and French Quarter as they chanted for the rights of unionized public sector workers and all workers’ rights.

The rally began in Lafayette Square, when speakers from local unions such as New Orleans City Workers Organizing Committee (NOCWOC), Starbucks Workers United (SBWU), Fair Trade Musicians, United Teachers of New Orleans (UTNO) and New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice (NOWCRJ) emphasized the importance of organizing in the context of the political repression faced in Louisiana.

“It’s important that we are on the streets today fighting back against these bills. The ‘fancy suits’ up in Baton Rouge and Washington are and should be scared of us. They wouldn’t be trying to gut our unions and protections if they weren’t scared of us, “ said Abbey Lodwig, SBWU organizer.

Jeff Landry, the state’s current Republican governor, has an extensive history of reactionary attacks on the topics of oppressed-gender peoples, oppressed-nationality peoples, and workers. Labor rights activists fear the passage of anti-union and anti-worker bills will disrupt millions of lives. Some speakers emphasized the struggle seen in immigrant communities and the Black working class, which disproportionately faces poverty, political repression and mass incarceration. Speakers drew parallels between oppression, connecting struggles together for the listeners.

“This whole [legislative] session is an attack on the working class,” stated Maria Singer of NOCWOC, “and we know these bills would affect our most vulnerable populations, first and worst. These anti-labor bills intersect with class, race, gender identity and immigration status. This is more than just about this legislative session, this is about our humanity.”

The 2024 legislative session has been considered a “special threat” among workers. Some proposed bills would revoke a minor’s right to a lunch break at work, require public sector workers to recertify unions more frequently, and prevent the automatic deduction of union dues from paychecks.

The protesters marched down Canal Street, shutting down multiple lanes of traffic as tourists and workers alike observed the action. The protest continued at Jackson Square, where other organizers spoke in solidarity before the background of the historic Saint Louis Cathedral. Several workers passing by also requested to speak in support of the fight for union rights and labor rights, encouraging the audience to continue to stay engaged politically as the fight for our democratic rights continues.

#NewOrleansLA #LA #Labor #PublicSector #NOCWOC #SBWU #UTNO #NOWCRJ #Feature