Thousands of workers will go on strike on May Day

Thousands of workers will go on strike on May Day

CREDIT: AP Photo/Sophia Tareen

Originally published by ThinkProgress

Bryce Covert

This is the first time Taria Vines will be going on strike.

Currently a private caterer, Vines has spent 20 years in the restaurant industry, working her way up from a server in a 24-hour diner to a cook. But she won’t be working on Monday, May 1, which is May Day. She’ll be joining a mass general strike planned across job sectors and across the country.

Her protest will be aimed primarily at her own industry. “We’re fighting for something that we all need in this industry, which is a fair wage and respect,” she said. “It’s time for a change in this industry. Everyone needs to be acknowledged as a real person, a real professional, who has a real job.”

“We’re fighting for something that we all need in this industry, which is a fair wage and respect.”

May 1 will also be a day focused on immigration, as thousands of immigrants stage a Day Without Immigrants strike across the country. That fits into Vines’s protest as well.

“The restaurant industry is completely built on immigrants,” she said. She’s worked with people who have come from countries all over the globe to make a life in the United States. “But it’s not really a better life when you can’t afford to pay your rent or are living check to check,” she said.

So she strikes for her immigrant colleagues as well. “It’s just about solidarity and respect for all,” she said.

Vines is a member of the restaurant worker organization Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, or ROC United, and on Monday hundreds of its members will similarly go on strike and protest in the streets. In early March, the group held a convention of its national leadership with about 160 restaurant workers, and they voted unanimously to call the general strike.

“We’ve been fighting for a long time for one fair wage,” said Saru Jayaraman, co-director of ROC, referring to the group’s efforts to get rid of the lower tipped minimum wage. “People feel like it’s an important moment to call for that with ever rising inequality and a president that doesn’t seem to care about low-wage people.” She pointed to President Trump’s nominees for Labor Secretary — first, fast food CEO Andy Puzder, and then after him Republican attorney Alexander Acosta — as proof, given that she says they “don’t have workers’ interests at heart.”

The administration’s policies have also affected many different ROC members, she said, whether they are immigrants, LGBTQ people, Muslims, or women. “People feel like this is both a call for…living wages, and against everything this administration represents,” she said.

It’s not just ROC’s restaurant employee members who will protest on Monday, either. Hundreds of restaurants that belong to its network also plan to let their workers strike and protest by shutting their doors in support.

Fight for 15 fast food workers will march in support of the strikers, too. “The brave workers striking on May 1 are sending a powerful message that every person who lives and works in this country deserves to have their basic rights respected,” Anggie Godoy, who workers in a McDonald’s in Los Angeles, said in a statement. “The Fight for $15 supports them, and will stand with them every step of the way.”

Unions will strike and protest alongside immigrant strikers. Even contract workers who serve Silicon Valley tech firms will walk off the job, and some companies — such as Facebook and Google — will allow both its own employees and its subcontracted workforce to take the day.

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