Worker Organizations demand more protection on ‘May Day’

Malina Seenarine

Worker organizations and unions marched from Washington Square Park to Foley Square on May 1 to demand more protection and rights for workers on May Day, also known as International Workers Day.

May Day in the United States U.S. began with a Chicago-based movement in the 19th century to push for an eight-hour workday. At the time, the Industrial Revolution had led to worsening work conditions ands well as 16-hour workdays. Although May Day is not recognized by the fFederal gGovernment as a national holiday, many still see it as a day to push working-class unity.

“Together and in this space on May Day, we rally for workers across this state who are excluded, forgotten, marginalized, exploited, and denied opportunity,” Tina Luongo, from the criminal defense practice at the Legal Aid Society, told the crowd.

The Professional Staff Congress CUNY, the union for CUNY faculty and staff, joined protestors and other organizations. There are over 30,000 members in the union.


Yadira Gonzalez

Demonstrators marched along the sunny New York City streets chanting phrases like “the people united will never be defeated” and “sex work is work.” People dressed in red, black and white performed a drum dance.

Protestors advocated for several protections for workers, including essential excluded workers, formerly incarcerated workers and construction workers.

Council Member Tiffany Cabán addressed the crowd about the Secure Job Act she is fighting to pass. The bill, which is currently in front of the city council, prevents employers from firing employees without a reason.

Tiffany Jade Munroe, the Trans Justice Coordinator at the Caribbean Equality Project, a community-based organization that advocates for Caribbean immigrants, echoed this sentiment.

“For far too long we have seen employment terminations, which disproportionately impact black people, immigrants, women, and my LGBTQ+ undocumented community,” Munroe said.

Monroe immigrated to the United States . in 2019. She was employed at a warehouse and faced gender identity discrimination. When she spoke about the discrimination to her supervisors, her hours were cut and she was eventually fired from her job.

Demonstrators also discussed the proposal to increase the minimum wage in New York City.

Yadira Gonzalez

Gov. Kathy Hochul recently signed a bill that would increase the minimum wage to $17 in the city by 2027 but demonstrators say that is not enough and are demanding

Gino Murillo, a member of the Local 79 Union, rallied for $40 an hour for construction workers building affordable housing.

“Together we are fighting so development in our neighborhoods creates good jobs with family-sustaining wages to lift our community out of poverty,” he said.

Luongo advocated for Albany to end forced prison labor and require that incarcerated people make at least minimum wage for their labor. She spoke of a time when The Legal Aid Society was invited to Albany by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to talk about bail reform. When they were walking the halls there was hand sanitizer on the tables made by incarcerated people in New York; the same hand sanitizer that they were denied the use of while in prison.

Luongo also spoke about the Stop Violence in the Sex Trades Act, a bill that would decriminalize adult prostitution.

Other organizations in attendance included unions such as Local 79 and member organizations such as New Immigrant Community Empowerment and the Street Vendor Project.