Image of April 15 minimum wage rally by Chris Faraone
So … we woke up this morning, realized it was May Day, checked our email, and saw the press release that we were looking for …
May 1 to feature Fight for $15 rallies in multiple cities
Workers and their allies will advocate for $15 an hour as part of International Workers’ Day
Following the success of the global Fight for $15 rallies on April 15, workers from across industries will continue their collaboration to advocate for a living wage.
May 1, which is globally recognized as a day of action to promote worker rights, will feature actions in Chelsea, East Boston, and Everett as workers rally for an end to poverty wages.
With low wage workers of all stripes rallying just north of Boston this afternoon, we reached out to Gladys Vega, the executive director of the Chelsea Collaborative, to ask what the region has in store for this year’s May Day demonstrations (starting at 3:30pm).
What’s the plan?
I’m going to be in East Boston [Liberty Plaza, 220 Border St.], then we’ll be picking up the crowd at Chelsea City Hall [500 Broadway], then we’ll march to Glendale Park in the City of Everett [Elm and Ferry streets].
These have been pretty huge in years past. Who is on board this time?
It’s a combination of workers. We’ve been doing this for 15 years – the purpose is to create awareness about not allowing workers to be exploited, to make sure every worker is respected with dignity, and that people understnd that in order to live in Massachusetts, we need better wages.
What do you say to people who say that the recent minimum wage hike is enough? What are you still fighting for?
We’re fighting because large companies – the McDonald’s and Burger Kings of the world – have gotten away with too many breaks, and in order for us to get a middle class we have to make sure these low-income jobs are paid better. Because of the bad economy, a lot of people lost their regular jobs, and now regular people like you and I aren’t working, and they’re doing everything they can to get by at these low-paying jobs.
Is there a positive side of things? The labor movement around Greater Boston, particularly that involving service workers, seems to be gaining momentum.
I think it’s going fabulous. The recent increase is a way of showing [politicians] are intending on doing the right thing. I just think we have to organize more, and we will with all of the voters who collected those signatures to make that happen (Ed. note: State legislators only budged on the minimum wage issue after labor groups raised hell on the ground). We’re in a critical time, and we’re creating that awareness that the one percent isn’t going to get away with everything. The organized work force is standing up.
How does this all tie in with the history of May Day?
When May Day was organized back then [in the 1880s], it was for the eight-hour day. And here we are, decades after, fighting for similar issues. If we would have increased wages on a regular basis we wouldn’t have the same problems we have now. They’ve ignored a whole society for decades. It’s been oppression, not taking people out of poverty.
We don’t want a favor. We want to work to bring ourselves out of poverty. We’re holding people accountable.