May 1 is International Workers Day, a celebration of the working class and labor around the world. Here in New Mexico, civil rights organizations, religious leaders, unions and families will participate in a national strike and marches, and a rally in Albuquerque that’s expected to draw thousands.
Immigrant rights organization El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos says 150 local businesses will be closed on Monday. They’re sending their workers to the afternoon rally instead.
KUNM's Marisa Demarco spoke with El Centro’s community organizer Marian Mendez-Cera about how valuing workers unites diverse movements.
MENDEZ-CERA: So on May 1, it’s International Workers Day, right? We are all workers. And that’s something that we can identify with, right? Such like you and I—regardless of where we come from or what religion we may practice or how we identify ourselves—one thing that’s obviously and will always be true is that you and I are workers. And that’s the unity and solidarity that all of us will come together.
And El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos with immigrant families, low-wage workers, along with allies, are standing up, are rising up, to resist the Trump’s Administration’s targeting and persecution of immigrants and refugee communities. We will not stand—Ya Basta!—for the many attacks we are receiving on many fronts.
KUNM: And how have we seen those attacks playing out here in New Mexico?
MENDEZ-CERA: New Mexico—it’s beautiful in the way that we have a history of resistance to many attacks, whether it’s from our governor or whether it’s from our Mayor Berry, right? We have been resisting many attacks on many fronts. Currently, there is sadly enough an attack on immigrant workers and workers in general, right, here locally.
It’s about Susana Martinez vetoing raising the minimum wage and refusing to enforce New Mexico minimum wage laws. I mean, that is so essential. And yet, we are still debating about this. I mean, come on, people working 40 hours on minimum wage. That is not sufficient enough. And yet they want us to draw back to $7.50.
KUNM: You’re calling for a general strike—no work, no school, no purchases. Strikes can be really hard for low-wage workers who might lose their jobs or a whole day of pay.
MENDEZ-CERA: It’s been a national call for action, a national general strike, and we’re standing in solidarity with that action. And we do acknowledge that probably some workers will be affected. But the thing is, people are organized. We tell people at the workplace: organize, right? Because it is different—the solutions or the outcomes—of whether one worker vs. 20 workers do the strike in a workplace, right? The risk will decrease if we are organized, and if we all strike.
But regardless of all that, we can also compromise to not purchase, right? And we also need to acknowledge the importance of why. There has been various general strikes and workers have also participated, because they saw the importance of why it was necessary. And I believe now more than ever, we need to come together.
KUNM: A strike would demonstrate political and economic power in the face of Trump’s anti-immigration policies. Do you think it will work? Do you think his administration will take note of this strike?
MENDEZ-CERA: We need to show our political, economic and community power. And the way that it’s done, it’s sometimes shown by doing a strike. And our families, our communities, contribute so much into New Mexico’s economy. We need to acknowledge that.
And this is personal to New Mexico. This is personal for myself, as well. I mean, we all come, or we know of a mixed- status family in New Mexico. We’re all proud New Mexicans. Our families that are being currently targeted and persecuted could be our neighbors, could be our classmates, could be our parents, could be our coworkers, our taxpayers. So we need to acknowledge all the contributions our community has.
Rally and Cultural Celebration
Tiguex Park (1800 Mountain Rd. NW)
Monday, May 1, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. with speakers, music and activities for kids. Organizers are asking people to wear white as a symbol of peace and solidarity.