New York, NY-Today, the May Day New York Coalition called on Washington to deliver a bold immigrants' and workers’ rights agenda. Standing in solidarity, essential workers, advocates, union members, and elected leaders demanded a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrant workers and their families, as well as the rights of workers to organize and work in dignity without fear of retaliation and discrimination.
Advocates pointed to both the House Democrats’ immigration reform package and the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act) as key pieces of legislation which Washington must pass immediately. Introduced in March, the immigration reform package would provide a pathway to citizenship for essential workers, Dreamers, TPS recipients, DED beneficiaries and millions of others. The Pro Act would create protections for workers trying to organize. Viewed as the labor movement’s top legislative priority, the bill also enjoys support from President Biden.
“110 years ago, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire brought Jewish immigrant women together with the labor movement in a demand for justice,” said Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition. “Then, as now, the battle for immigrant and workers’ rights were deeply intertwined. Today, we continue the tradition by uniting together in our call for a pathway to citizenship for millions of working families and the end of multi-billion dollar corporations brutally suppressing every worker’s right to organize. Arm in arm we will build an economy that centers working families not the ultra wealthy.”
“The fights for workers’ rights and immigrant rights have been inseparable throughout our nation’s history,” said New York State Attorney General Letitia James. “This country was built on the backs of immigrant workers and it continues to thrive because of the power they inject into the economy. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our essential workers have been immigrants – risking their health and lives to keep us safe. The sacrifice these individuals have made must be recognized and honored by providing a pathway to citizenship and enshrining worker protections into law.”
“We stand with the May Day New York Coalition in demanding a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrant workers and for the rights of workers to organize and work without the threat of discrimination and/or worse,” said Robert Agyemang, NY Director, African Communities Together. “In New York City, our immigrant workforce accounts for nearly half of the city’s entire workforce, and our immigrant Essential Workers accounted for more than half of all the city’s essential workers. During the most worrisome times of the pandemic, our Essential Workers made a sacrifice for this city and country that could never be fully repaid. The pathway to citizenship and the right and the right to organize does not repay it all, but it is a great place to start for something that's been long overdue.”
This past year has shown us more than ever the pivotal role that our immigrant community plays in keeping our city and country running,” said Reada Edelstein, CEO of LSA Family Health Service. “At LSA, we continue to advocate for a pathway toward citizenship and an equitable workplace for all immigrant workers. Every single person in our community deserves the respect and support they need to provide a better life for themselves and their families to fulfill the promise of America."
“In 1909 young Jewish, Italian, and Irish immigrant women workers in the New York City garment industry refused to accept dangerous and discriminative workplace conditions and took to the streets in a strike that became known as the Uprising of the 20,000,” said Ann Toback, CEO, The Workers Circle. “Their demands for justice and equality ignited the modern labor movement and ultimately transformed working conditions in the United States. This May Day, we honor the legacy of these changemakers, with our demand to Congress to pass the Protect the Right to Organize Act which will restore workers’ ability to organize and negotiate for better pay, benefits, and fairness on the job, which will also promote racial equity and help close the Black–white wage gap, bringing greater equality to the workplace.
Research shows that immigrant New Yorkers make up 43% of the city’s workforce. During the COVID-19 pandemic, immigrants comprised more than half of New York’s essential workers. Roughly, one in five of these New Yorkers lacked documentation.
The May Day New York Coalition is an alliance of both labor and immigrant rights organizations, led by RWDSU, 32BJ SEIU, 1199 SEIU, DC37, LIUNA Local 78, LIUNA Local 79, the Workers Circle and the New York Immigration Coalition.