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May Day actions and the state of the labor, immigrants’ rights and Occupy movements

Occupy Wall Street participants gather to stage a May Day march at Bryant Park in New York, May 01, 2012.
Occupy Wall Street participants gather to stage a May Day march at Bryant Park in New York, May 01, 2012.

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Today is International Workers’ Day, better known as May Day, and it serves as a celebration of international organized labor, immigration rights activists and left-wing movements.

Occupy Wall Street, undoubtedly the most prominent left-wing movement that arose this past year in the United States, is using the day to hold a nationwide general strike. And they are not alone. Labor groups and immigration activists are joining up with Occupy to encourage workers and students not to show up at work or school. By doing so, the groups hope to show the 1% what life without the 99% would really be like.

Events are taking place in major cities all across the country, including New York, San Francisco, Oakland, Chicago, Los Angeles and many others. On AirTalk, Larry Mantle talks to representatives from the three distinct parts of this coalition: Occupy, immigration and labor.

What is the status of these three movements and how have they advanced their goals in the present political landscape? Will today’s demonstrations lead to positive attention and reform? Or does the disruption create negative press?


Peter Dreier, Professor of Politics, Occidental College; Author of the forthcoming book “The Hundred Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame”

Angelica Salas, Executive Director, The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA)

María Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary–Treasurer Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations)

Leslie Berestein-Rojas, KPCC immigration reporter; writes the Multi-American blog

Lauren Steiner, activist with Occupy Venice and Occupy LA. She’s also a stay-at-home mom, community activist and former media professional.

Todd Gitlin, Professor of Journalism and Sociology at Columbia University; Author of the new e-book “Occupy Nation”