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A May Day call for justice

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Cesar Chavez said that our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own. As we celebrate International Workers’ Day, known around the world as May Day, it is clear that Chavez’s vision is not yet fulfilled.

Working families are being shut out and sent away. Wages are stagnant, workplaces are not safe enough and workers’ voices are falling on deaf ears. President Trump, both in words and actions, continues to threaten immigrant workers and families. But even in the face of these challenges, there is hope. Our ambitions remain broad, our commitment is undaunted and we are fighting to build a foundation for a fairer, stronger America.

{mosads}The election of Donald Trump to the highest office in the land was painful for many of us. As Latinas, we find his attacks on women, immigrants and people of color unconscionable. As Americans, we are concerned about a resurgence of division and hate. As advocates, we worry that the progress we made in the last decade could be rolled back. Yet Donald Trump’s win was only one part of the story. We are helping to write a different chapter—one filled with optimism and hope, breaking a glass ceiling as old as our Republic. That is how we can write this piece today—America’s first Latina senator and one of its highest-ranking Latina labor leaders—with full hearts and a renewed spirit.

In our home states of Nevada and California in particular, we have seen a roadmap for broadly shared prosperity. Workers are forming unions and bargaining with their employers for a fair piece of the pie. Housekeepers, cooks and other workers forming unions no longer live in poverty, earning a living wage plus family healthcare and just scheduling practices. This includes the courageous women and men at Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas—many immigrants—who won a first contract despite a high-priced campaign to silence their voices. Working people of all faiths, all colors, all ages and all genders are speaking up at town halls and community meetings for good, affordable healthcare, a dignified retirement and respect for our diversity. Men, women and children are taking to the streets for the first time in their lives, demanding a better life. Massive marches are planned for May Day, here and around the world. 

America is at a tipping point. Simply put, our economy is not working for working people. Wages are pitifully low for too many workers. Instead of ensuring Americans have access to quality, affordable healthcare this administration and Republicans in Congress are trying to roll back the Affordable Care Act. CEOs are getting richer and richer as regular families struggle to afford the basics. The American people overwhelmingly support smart immigration reform with a path to citizenship, yet President Trump has doubled down on the dark practice of arresting families in the middle of the night or while parents take their kids to school. This is not right. This is not who we are as Americans.

So we are fighting back. We are using all the tools at our disposal—legislative, political, organizing, bargaining, community—to create new economic rules and a more just society. We stand proudly on the shoulders of those who came before us and draw inspiration from a new generation of mostly young leaders who are ready to change the world, one workplace and one community at a time.

Stand with us this May Day. Make your voices heard.  Let’s remember that we draw our strength, as Cesar Chavez said, from the very despair in which we have been forced to live. We have always fought to make our country a better place. We invite you to join us. Let’s get to work.

Catherine Cortez Masto is a U.S. Senator from Nevada. Maria Elena Durazo is General Vice President at UNITE HERE, the union of Hospitality and Food Service workers.

The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

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