Chicago, IL - Rallies and marches marked the celebration of International Workers Day in Chicago, starting at noon with a protest called by Jobs With Justice at a Walmart store in the suburb of Forest Park. Over 100 trade unionists gathered to expose the ongoing exploitation by Walmart of its workers and those in its supply chain around the world. The crowd cheered especially hard for Robert Hines from the Warehouse Workers for Justice when he spoke passionately about the struggle of his co-workers for dignity and respect. Warehouse Workers for Justice was founded by the United Electrical Workers (UE) after the successful plant occupation at Republic Windows and Doors in December, 2008.
The workers then marched to the Forest Home Cemetery, the location of the 125th Anniversary Commemoration of the Haymarket Incident. The event was a Restoration and Rededication of the Haymarket Martyrs Monument, which stands over the graves of the leaders of the 1886 strike for the eight-hour day and who died as victims of state repression.
Gathered there were hundreds of trade unionists taking part in a May Day event supported by the Chicago and Illinois federations of labor. International Workers Day was ignored for a century by the AFL and AFL-CIO because it stands for class struggle. The attacks on the unions in recent years, together with the immigrant rights movement, have caused a section of the union leadership to reclaim this part of U.S. labor history.
Immigrants Rights March
The largest event of the day was a march for immigrant rights, estimated at 1500 people. The front banner read, “If one is deportable, we are all exploitable.” The march began in Union Park, where the movement has assembled each year since the first mega march in 2006. The march proceeded to Pilsen, a predominantly Mexican immigrant neighborhood.
People chanted, “Si, se puede!” as they have each year, and the march focused on the struggle for rights of the immigrant community. The march was initiated by the Movement against Deportations Campaign, not one of the groups that had led marches in previous years. The organizers of this year’s march included many of the immigrant youth who have played a leading role in the struggle for their immigrant families over the past year.