Activists share labor strike

By Roxana Amparo, Editor-In-Chief

In the middle-class workers’ world, International Workers Day means standing against unfair treatment, labor and the exploitation of immigrant community, Allendale Elementary School teacher Martha said.

“When you are my age, it is very difficult to find a job,” Martha said. “If you come from Mexico, you know that it is true.”

Martha and her husband of 40 years, Raul, advocate for the working class as part of The Progressive Labor Party (PLP), a political party in the U.S.

Supporters from around the world come together for the cause on May 1 by skipping work to strike against the system, she said.

Martha and Raul have been married for 40 years and are part of the working class population.

English as a Second Language professor Evan DeGennaro invited them to speak to his ESL class on April 12.

He said he is currently a part-timer at Contra Costa College and understands where Martha and Raul are coming from.

DeGennaro said there are several levels to segregate people, such as being taught to be around people that look similar to each other.

“We have to find out what is real,” he said. “They don’t teach young white people about their history. They teach us about rich white people,” he said.

Martha is a part-time teacher working 20 hours in Allendale Elementary School as part time, as well as Raul who teaches in Oakland.

“I am a teacher. I have an education, but I only work 20 hours as part time,” Martha said.

Martha said immigrants who come to the U.S. were forced out of their country.

“We want to live with dignity. We are poor and don’t have money. I think humans need to be proud of who they are,” she said.

Raul said they expect thousands of the working class and other supporters to participate in the strike.

Martha said the workers were tired of working 12, 14 or even up to 16 hours a day. The working class did not have benefits and the majority were immigrants from Europe.

It began in Chicago where over five million factories closed and went on strike to get a decent salary and have eight-hour workdays.

Rosario Tejada, ESL student, said it was the first time she heard about May Day and was excited to listen to Raul and Martha.

Tejada said, with all the changes happening with President Donald Trump, it was a good idea to talk about May Day and its history.

Maria Contreras said, “Look out this window, there is no wall.” Not only is (Trump) being cruel with people, but with nature as well.”

“We all have the right to be free, not slaves,” Contreras said.

“We used to be ESL students, too — we are very similar. We are also immigrants,” Martha said.