Feven Gerezgiher reports:
This weekend, union organizers celebrated May Day, a holiday with a long history in South Minneapolis.
At the International Workers Day March on Saturday, racial justice organizer Monique Cullars Doty spoke to the labor movement’s solidarity with black and brown lives since the death of George Floyd.
“Solidarity indicates the people who are oppressed are coming together,” said Cullars Doty. “It takes all oppressed people. And laborers have been oppressed throughout history.”
Labor unions got some attention after the shooting of Daunte Wright by a former Brooklyn Center police officer earlier in April. Transit union leaders defended their drivers’ decision to not transport protest arrestees.
Labor organizers noted that the working class experience overlaps with the experience of marginalized communities. Troy Bowman, an SEIU janitor, said as an essential worker, he felt expendable.
“In the last year, I have had to quarantine two times missing over thirty days of work and I haven’t even been paid for that time.”
Bowman said he is frustrated that many essential workers did not receive hazard pay. Other laborers also shared concerns around union-busting and exploitation of immigrant workers during the pandemic.
Marcia Howard is an organizer at George Floyd Square and a union member. She said collective bargaining can be applied for both racial and economic justice:
“When we stand together, we show and prove each and every day the power of the people, do not doubt it,” said Howard. “We have seen it work. We are seeing it work. We will see it work. Stand with us.”
Howard says George Floyd Square should not reopen to traffic until all the police officers involved in Floyd’s death have been convicted.
Photo Credit : Brad Sigal