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Striving for 'Just and Moral Economy,' Workers Rise Up for May Day Protests Worldwide

Sen. Bernie Sanders noted Tuesday that the fight for "decent wages, decent benefits, and decent working conditions for all workers" is a daily one

Jessica Corbett

Members of Make the Road New York protested in New York City on May 1, 2018. (Photo: @MaketheRoadNY/Twitter)

As workers across the world marked International Workers' Day, or May Day, by taking to the streets to demand living wages, improved labor conditions, and that employers respect their right to unionize, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) used the global mobilization to note the importance of fighting to improve labor conditions year-round.

"Every day we must strive for a just and moral economy with decent wages, decent benefits, and decent working conditions for all workers," he tweeted Tuesday.

The annual wave of protests comes as teachers across the Unites States have been battling state governments for higher pay, reliable pensions, and greater investment in public schools. Arizona teachers kicked off their fourth day of walkouts on Tuesday, closing hundreds of schools statewide. Educators in Colorado, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and West Virginia have also held rallies and walkouts in recent weeks.

Supporters of the teacher protests took to Twitter to express solidarity with those aiming to improve public education:

Meanwhile, outside the New York Stock Exchange—one of many actions planned for New York City on Tuesday—hundreds of people joined a march organized by the immigrant advocacy group Make the Road New York to demand that Wall Street "stop making money from the pain of our communities."

The group specifically denounced policies pushed by the Trump administration, with co-executive director Javier Valdez telling NBC News, "The Trump administration has made very clear that they've declared war on the immigrant community on all levels."

Cynthia Nixon, who is running in the state's gubernatorial race as a progressive challenger to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, participated in the protest. "We are sending a notice to Wall Street: Stop funding Trump's prison policy and backing his racist agenda," she tweeted. "No one should be profiting off of human misery."

Across the country, in Los Angeles, union members, LGBTQ and immigrant rights advocates, and community activists planned a series of marches focused on, according to NBC Los Angeles, "defending workers' rights, halting deportations that 'break up families,' and urging residents to vote in the upcoming mid-term elections." The demonstrations were organized despite growing concerns about violent opposition from far-right groups.

The People's Congress of Resistance captured the demands driving Tuesday's national and international demonstrations in a Facebook event for a rally in Los Angeles, declaring:

We demand an end to the attacks on unions, ICE raids, police brutality, and sexual harassment in the workplace. We call for an end to imperialist wars abroad which devastate innocent people and the planet. We strive for a society with justice for women, students, LGBTQ folks, and the environment. We salute the striking teachers and student walk-outs across the country who are demonstrating that when we are organized we have the power."

Halfway around the world, McDonald's workers in the United Kingdom walked out to demand a wage increase.

Journalists in Turkey turned out to demand justice for colleagues who have been jailed "on baseless charges."

Turkish protesters also sought to defy a ban on demonstrating in Taksim Square, prompting a harsh crackdown by law enforcement. AFP reports that police "detained more than 80 people and placed a security lockdown on the city."

Major protests were also held in Cambodia, Greece, Indonesia, the Philippines, Russia, South Korea, Spain, and elsewhere. Demonstrators shared updates from the streets on social media using the hashtags #MayDay and #InternationalWorkersDay.

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