Advocacy & Activism, Labor

Portlanders Gather for May Day in Support of Worker Solidarity

From OregonLive.com, Natalie Feulner, The Oregonian, 1 May 2011.

Portland-area residents take part in a May Day march and rally to stand up for worker solidarity Sunday near Southwest Park Street. Natalie Feulner/The Oregonian

Portland-area residents take part in a May Day march and rally to stand up for worker solidarity Sunday near Southwest Park Street. Natalie Feulner/The Oregonian

[Portland, OR] — Speeches in both Spanish and English boomed over the loud speakers as more than 200 Portland area residents filled the park area near Southwest Park and Southwest Salmon for a May Day rally and march Sunday afternoon.

On May 1, 1890, mass demonstrations and strikes were throughout Europe and the United States. To this day, workers throughout the world celebrate the first day of May recognizing a day of International Worker Solidarity.

Portland’s event was similar to the much larger event held in Salem Sunday morning.

The crowd Sunday remained calm but would passionately shout out “Si se puede” when prompted by event organizers and many carried signs with slogans such as “Stop corporate greed.”

Many standing in support of local laborers said they wanted to join in the solidarity of the event and that it was a great way to unite Portland.

Paul Wolfe, 28, of Portland teaches art to students with disabilities. He doesn’t directly work with laborers but said he felt a strong pull to the event due to the historical significance and his desire to stand out against exploitation of any kind.

“I am coming out in solidarity with the struggles of working class people everywhere,” Wolfe said. “People are coming out today and standing up for what they believe in.”

Wolfe added that though the United States may have flaws, the demonstration Sunday was a perfect example of the freedoms we have to hold such events.

“It’s nice that we have the privilege to gather here and demonstrate without worrying about getting shot at,” he said.

Guillermo Magallon is the operations manager for the Western Farm Workers Association based in Hillsboro. He and other volunteers were at the protest for a slightly different reason – they were looking for volunteers.

The WFWA works with laborers and immigrants to ensure that they have enough food and basic supplies to support their families. Magallon said that with the crash of the housing market, many of the individuals he helps have lots jobs the organization struggles to make up the difference.

“We stand in solidarity with all working people because working people hold our community up,” he said. “We need more living wage jobs and we to act during this time when those jobs are under attack.”

The May Day event in Portland also included an activist fair, a march around the Southwest Park Street area and a post march rally.

 Natalie Feulner; 503-294-5928; Twitter: @hppyvlyreporter 

Source: OregonLive.com, “Portlanders gather for May Day in support of worker solidarity” by Natalie Feulner, The Oregonian, 1 May 2011.

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