Large Food Worker Coalition and Influential Union Announce Fast-Growing #May1Strike

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Jose Oliva, jose@foodchainworkers.org, (773) 612-2559

Large Food Worker Coalition and Influential Union Announce Fast-Growing #May1Strike

Refusing to stand by as the Trump administration attacks their most marginalized members, worker groups are organizing a large national shutdown on International Workers’ Day

LOS ANGELES - The Food Chain Workers Alliance, a national coalition of workers organized across the food system, and the Service Employees International Union United Service Workers West (SEIU USWW) have announced a May 1 General Strike. The day of no work, school or shopping, #May1Strike – #ShutItDownMay1, is designed to express the collective power of the country’s most marginalized workers to stop the relentless attacks of the Trump administration and its allies in corporate America.

“The workers of color, mostly immigrants, who allow us all to eat are some of the most underpaid and underappreciated in the country,” said Jose Oliva, co-director of the Food Chain Workers Alliance. “Trump’s attacks are doing great harm to our members and quite literally putting the United States food system and economy in jeopardy. We’re proud to rise and invite other networks of marginalized people to co-lead this strike effort with us.”

Organizing for May 1 in the Trump era is being conducted by a broad set of movements committed to elevating the voices of the country’s most embattled workers, including immigrants, African Americans, women and other marginalized communities. The united May Day movement includes several leading networks, including The Movement for Black Lives, National Domestic Workers Alliance, MiGente and others.

“My co-workers and I had to make a choice: wait around for Trump to disrupt our livelihoods and families, or stand united to fight,” said “Ricardo Flores,” a member of Brandworkers, a worker center for local food manufacturing workers that is helping organize the strike. We chose to struggle until the end because it’s better to have a chance at justice than suffer guaranteed misery.”

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In 2006, a massive rising of immigrant workers showed the country how essential immigrants are to the social, economic and cultural fabric of the nation. The migrant community will rise again in the center of this movement, along with African Americans, Native peoples, Muslims, women and trans people. A general strike organizing effort from labor unions and other working class organizations of this magnitude has not been seen in the United States for over 70 years.

“We understand that there’s risk involved in that,” said David Huerta, president of SEIU USWW, to BuzzFeed News, “but we’re willing to take that risk in order to be able to move forward in this moment, while the most marginalized are in the crosshairs of this administration.”

Working in close collaboration with its labor union partners, the worker center community is showing its dynamism and essential role in the broader workers’ movement.

“Because restaurants are a microcosm of America, and restaurant workers are on the front lines of hate and discrimination, ROC United’s 170-member National Leadership Network, which is primarily people of color and represents nearly 25,000 members nationwide, came together and voted unanimously to mobilize their co-workers for a general strike in the restaurant industry,” said Saru Jayaraman, co-founder and co-director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United. “Now, more than ever, workers, particularly African American, Latinx, Asian American and women workers, are demanding change. Rather than protest fatigue, restaurant workers are more engaged than ever before.”

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With 2 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas. Focused on uniting workers in healthcare, public services and property services, SEIU members are winning better wages, healthcare and more secure jobs for our communities, while uniting their strength with their counterparts around the world to help ensure that workers—not just corporations and CEOs—benefit from today's global economy.

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