Faith leaders, poets, and musicians marched alongside labor and immigrant rights groups Sunday as hundreds of people took to the streets for a May Day march and rally organized by Casa San José , LCLAA Pittsburgh, APALA Pittsburgh, and the Thomas Merton Center.
On International Workers’ Day, representatives with the United Steelworkers and Bloomfield Starbucks Organizing Committee, as well as recent immigrants to the United States spoke to express solidarity and demand fair and equitable treatment for immigrants and workers alike.
“Today we celebrate the historical struggles and gains made by workers and the labor movement. We join workers worldwide fighting against workers’ rights violations and poor work conditions,” said Jessica Rios Viner, president of LCLAA Pittsburgh, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement.
“Andrew Carnegie was a union-busting jagoff,” said Eva Diodati, treasurer for the United Library Workers, to vigorous applause. The local represents approximately 300 library staff across all Pittsburgh Carnegie Library locations. After unionizing in 2019, the workers ratified their first contract in January of 2022.
Sabrina Liu, USW local 3657 member and founder of the Pittsburgh Chapter of APALA, the Asian-Pacific American Labor Alliance, noted that 17.4% of the American labor force, or about 28.2 million people, were born outside the country. Liu, originally from Taiwan, shared her own experience of being retaliated against by an employer who knew that her visa was tied to her employment. The crowd reacted with cries of “shame!”
“That experience made me realize how employers take advantage of immigrant workers, and how important it is that we stand in solidarity with each other to build our collective power, and to fight for dignity and power on the job.”
After the first round of speakers, a group of about 200 marched peacefully through Squirrel Hill before returning to Sixth Presbyterian Church on Murray Avenue, the site of the rally.
The annual May Day rally and march has been organized in Pittsburgh by the United Steelworkers and affiliated groups and allies since 2013.