More than 500 march to MN State Capitol on International Workers Day

By staff |
May 2, 2011
Read more articles in
May 1 march from Cathedral to State Capitol
May 1 International Workers Day march from Cathedral to State Capitol (Fight Back! News/Kim DeFranco)

St. Paul, MN - More than 500 people braved frigid temperatures and gusty winds to march from the Cathedral to the Minnesota State Capitol for International Workers Day. The marchers united around demands to stop to the attacks on immigrants, workers and unions that are coming from the State Legislature.

May 1st this year marked the 125th anniversary of the 1886 workers movement demanding the 8 hour workday that was met with brutal state repression. Since then, May 1st has been honored around the world as International Workers Day.

After a religious gathering in front of the Cathedral led by Asamblea de Derechos Civiles, the May 1st Coalition led a spirited march to the Capitol for the International Workers Day rally. The May 1st Coalition was endorsed by a broad range of groups such as HERE Local 17, SEIU Local 26, UTU Local 650, AFSCME Local 3800 and Council 5, Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAc), Communities United Against Police Brutality, FMLN Committee, Interfaith Coalition on Immigration (ICOM), MCTC Chicano Latino club, EXCO and many more.

Colombian trade unionist Gerardo Cajamarca of SEIU Local 26 led off the Capitol rally by strongly condemning the free trade agreements that the U.S. government is trying to impose with Colombia, Panama and south Korea. Phyllis Walker, President of AFSCME Local 3800, condemned the attacks on public sector workers by the state legislature and she also condemned the FBI raids and attacks on anti-war activists in Minnesota.

Other speakers at the May 1 Coalition rally included Dakota leader Peter Lengkhe, Ana from the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAc), Jared from the Jimmy Johns Workers Union, Mario Cololly who was fired from Cub Foods for his leadership in CTUL’s Justice for Retail Cleaning Workers campaign, and ex-Chipotle worker Tania who was fired during the mass immigration firings at Chipotle in Minnesota in December. Susie Gad spoke about the lessons we can learn from the workers movement in Egypt that overthrew U.S.-backed dictator Hosni Mubarak, and Molly Glasgow spoke about the mass workers’ movement in Wisconsin that emerged in response to Governor Scott Walker’s union-busting. There were also inspiring musical performances by Sishir Chang and Kestral, and spoken word performances from Marque Jensen and Patrick Russell.