Bay Area workers, immigrants part of nationwide May Day strike

Yolanda Barron Carmona commutes 45 minutes from her home in Oakland to her hotel housekeeping job in Emeryville during the week.

Though the drive is taxing, Carmona said she had no choice because hotel jobs closer to her home don’t allow union representation for workers — an important factor for her.

Carmona, a 51-year-old immigrant from Mexico, said she felt more respected by hotel management after she signed on with a union.

Yet after lunch Monday, Carmona intends to exercise one of the advantages of being a union member. She plans to walk out of work after lunch to join thousands of hotel staff, restaurant employees, nurses, teachers and others in the Bay Area in a May Day strike calling for workers’ and immigrants’ rights.

“All immigrants — whether we are from Mexico or (are) Muslims or Asian immigrants — we should be able to work freely and in peace, and we shouldn’t be harassed by immigration,” said Carmona, who’s a permanent resident living legally in the U.S. and has lived in Oakland for 17 years.

Carmona and about 60 other hotel workers from Oakland and Emeryville will gather at Mandela Parkway and Yerba Buena Avenue in Oakland from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., to demand sanctuary workplaces and to tear down a prop wall that symbolizes the wall that President Trump wants to build along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Sanjay Garla, the vice president of the Service Employees International Union United Service Workers West, said the annual nationwide strike is expected to be larger than it has been in the past decade because of Trump’s rhetoric on immigration. The biggest turnout is expected to be in Los Angeles, where workers will march from MacArthur Park to Grand Park.

“Immigrants’ rights and worker rights in the low-wage service industry are one and the same thing,” said Garla, whose organization represents 45,000 workers in California. “And what our membership is really looking at is the attacks on immigrants — we feel it is a direct attack on the strength of working people as well.”

In San Francisco, a protest outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office is scheduled for 8 a.m. Monday, followed by a gathering at 11 a.m. at Justin Herman Plaza, and from there a march to the Civic Center at noon.

Mayor Ed Lee is planning to participate in the march.

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