May Day protests throughout NYC defend workers’ rights

Dozens of protesters rally outside the Trump Building on Wall Street for May Day on Wednesday. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Often synonymous with fighting for workers’ rights, the occasion, one activist, said, “should be every month. One day is not enough.”

Dozens of protesters rally outside the Trump Building on Wall Street for May Day on Wednesday.
Dozens of protesters rally outside the Trump Building on Wall Street for May Day on Wednesday. Photo Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Protesters gathered around the city on Wednesday in celebration of May Day — an occasion often synonymous with fighting for workers’ rights — in support of issues ranging from fair wages for restaurant workers to lower tuition costs to fighting against Trump’s proposed border wall.

And while the focus of the demonstrations differed, many used May 1 as a way to come together under a collective voice.

"It’s really great to see this. We look at the quality of the people and the representation of the different struggles and movements," said Monica Moorehead, 66, who retired from teaching in the city and now lives in Jersey City. "It means that we’re a voice; we’re sort of a voice for the voiceless."

May Day dates back to 1886 when about 300,000 workers across the country walked out of their jobs, using the demonstration to demand better conditions, such as an eight-hour workday, according to the Industrial Workers of the World union.

May Day dates back to 1886 when about 300,000 workers across the country walked out of their jobs, using the demonstration to demand better conditions.
May Day dates back to 1886 when about 300,000 workers across the country walked out of their jobs, using the demonstration to demand better conditions. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Dozens of people gathered in front of the Trump Building on Wall Street on Wednesday afternoon, holding signs that argued against "capitalist exploitation of immigrant workers" and said there should be "no walls in the workers struggle" — a play on Trump’s proposed border wall.

"May Day is going against the system. The system doesn’t really benefit the actual workers. We fight against that," said Andrea Shaw, 27, of Ridgewood. Shaw was representing Earth Strike NYC, which fights for climate action, and was calling for a global strike on Sept. 27.

"I think it should be every month. One day is not enough," she added. "There needs to be more pressure, there needs to be more awareness."

Earlier in the day, about 100 students, teaching assistants and supporters staged a walkout from The New School near Union Square to rally against rising tuition and housing costs. The group packed the sidewalk on Fifth Avenue and held brightly colored signs that read "Students over Corporations."

"The school is already expensive and presents itself as progressive, but it’s really not," said Mia Murray, an 18-year-old freshman from Seattle who lives off-campus in Bedford Stuyvesant. "I live off-campus because I cannot afford the dorms. I’d like to be closer to campus, but I just can’t.”

Murray said that she has taken out loans to pay for school and that her father works longer hours to help her cope.

Ivan Pereira and Alison Fox