Tomorrow May Day, May 1, I'm going to two protests. From 8:30-9:30 a.m. I'm going to picket with my union, Faculty Association at Santa Monica College, for a wage increase (we haven't had a raise in 3 years) and a contract. My union has been negotiating for months with the administration and still no raise and no contract. Since we've had inflation for the last three years, without a wage increase our real wages have gone down. I think it's time for us to have a raise.
Then at 4:00 I'm going to meet up with, march, and photograph the immigrant march. There are two marches for immigrant rights in Los Angeles:
1. 12:00 noon- Broadway/Olympic- march north to City Hall- sponsored by March 25 coalition
2. 3:00- Wilshire and Alvarado- marching down west to LaBrea tar pits- sponsored by MIWON and others. MIWON is an alliance of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of L.A. (CHIRLA), Garment Worker Center (GWC), Instituto de Educacion Popular del Sur de Californi (IDEPSCA), Korean Immigrant Workers Advocates (KIWA), and the Pilipino Workers Center of Southern CA (PWC)
Of course, I want to make a statement against HR4437, which I think is the most horrible bill I've ever seen in my lifetime.
Also, Santa Monica College faculty aren't the only working people to see our wages decline: wages have declined in the United States. In the United States we have the greatest income equality today in any time in the last 70 years. You'd have to go back to 1930s to see such income inequality. What has caused this growing inequality in the U.S.?
A number of factors. According to Michael Lind writing in Harpers, " corporate elites continue to use the imperatives of global free trade as a means of driving down American wages and nullifying the social contract implicit in both the New Deal and the Great Society. U.S. corporations now lead the world in the race to low-wage countries with cheap and politically repressed labor forces." Second, Lind says that elites in the United States have shifted the taxes from the extremely wealthy to the working people. Thirdly, wealthy elites have cut spending on services including police, education, and health care.
Mexicans have also suffered greatly from global free-trade. In Mexico, wages have gone down 25% in the last 11 years. Then elites in both countries pit desperate Mexicans who have their jobs destroyed in Mexico against whites and blacks in the United States who have seen jobs destroyed, taxes raise, and living conditions deterioating.
We've had 25 years of Reagonomics, and all it has done is destroyed parts of the middle class and destroyed most of the high-paying union jobs in the United States. Enough is enough. I think that the immigrant marches are for everyone who wants to stop the decline of wages and living conditions in North America.
As wages and living conditions decline, the right-wing offers up the immigrants as scapegoats, blaming them for the decline. That's a lie. The right-wing assault on immigrants is scapegoating them for the failed right-wing economic policies dominating the United States and Mexico for the past two decades. Impoverished immigrants did not make global trade policy to drive down wages. These immigrants didn't vote to shift the tax burden onto working people. These immigrants didn't vote to defund higher education over 10% in the last twenty years.
Rather than causing any decline in wages, Mexican immigrants in paticular have suffered mightily as NAFTA encouraged U.S. huge agri-business to drive over 2,000,000 Mexican small farmers out of business and U.S. retail giants like Wal-Mart destroyed the toy, candy, and other industries in Mexico. I think we should all march May Day to say we're against scapegoating. If right-wing is allowed to scapegoat 1 group, then all people are endangered.
If we are ever to raise wages in U.S. and Mexico, we need to get both governments to stop making it nearly impossible to form unions, which when organized help raise wages of all people in that industry. We need to radically change NAFTA so it has a social contract. If you want a raise, then find someway tomorrow to show solidarity to the immigrant marches.