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United front on International Workers Day in Salt Lake City

By Ian Decker

May Day rally in Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City, Utah—On May 2, more than 100 people rallied in celebration of International Workers Day. The event, put on by the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, drew a large crowd to the steps of the city and county buildings. The people gathered to show solidarity with workers, immigrants, national and international movements.

Casey Wardell, president of the United Steel Workers Local 12-578, opened with a solidarity message for the USW locals on strike. “These locals going on strike for health and safety concerns. The same people who work in the refineries are the same people who live in the communities and get affected by the refineries’ pollution.”

Wardell sharply criticized the oil companies saying, “They make enough profit off these people, they can afford to make refineries with safety and environmental protections.”

Carly Haldeman spoke next from the Revolutionary Students Union, saying, “Students! You need to organize. Ask for cheaper tuition. Ask for free tuition! Ask for education for all undocumented students. Look to Baltimore and follow after their example. When systems of oppression are in place, you need to demand your humanity back.”

Lex Scott of Utah Against Police Brutality spoke about how to stop police killings, “In 2014 they killed Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Darren Hunt, Dillon Taylor and too many more to count. In 2014 we saw no justice. But we're still here, and in 2015 we see six police officers indicted. Only we can win justice.”

Ella Mendoza, with Utah's Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, tugged on heartstrings while speaking about the difficulties facing undocumented families, “When I was 12, I had to leave Mexico and I haven't seen my mother since.”

Adrian Romero, of Stand for Queer Lives, spoke in English and Spanish explaining why people immigrate, “NAFTA has been a complete disaster for Mexico. The promised growth has never arrived and Mexico still continues to have only a small amount of growth.”

Britt Miller, the business agent for Teamsters Local 222, touched on the importance of unions for gaining equality, “If we trust the 'free market' to fix income inequality we'll be waiting until nearly 2080. They won't raise women's wages to be equal with men's, but lower everyone's wages down to the level of women's.”

Miller continued, “The first law Obama signed when he was elected was a law that was supposed to allow people to sue companies paying different wages to men and women. However, the government hasn't enforced this. And so it's said it solved the problem, but hasn't done anything. They only real solution is to do it yourself and that means having a good union contract that demands pay equality.”

Gregory Lucero from the Freedom Road Socialist Organization gave the keynote speech. He spoke both about the struggles nationally and internationally. He called for solidarity with Venezuela, Palestine and the Middle East.

Ultimately, Lucero’s message was, “It's easy to lose track of what we're fighting for by getting overly focused on individual struggles. What I fight for is socialism.” He continued, “People say all sorts of things about communism, but at the end of the day I'm fighting for a system run by the workers, farmers, teachers and truck drivers. Not for this system for the bosses, bankers and politicians.”

#SaltLakeCityUtah #SaltLakeCityUT #ImmigrantRights #MayDay #PeoplesStruggles