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3 Notes on May Day

April 30, 2009


In solidarity with workers and worker movements everywhere, Hesperian celebrates May Day, International Workers’ Day, on May 1st. Although the US is one of the only countries in the world that does not recognize May Day, it was here where the celebration began, with the fight for the 8-hour work day in Chicago in 1886.  In honor of all workers who continue to struggle for justice at work and in the world, Hesperian will be closed on Friday, May 1st.

Hesperian staff members will join labor and immigrant rights groups in this year’s May Day rallies in San Francisco and Oakland. In the current economic climate where millions of workers are losing their jobs, forced to leave home in search of work or to accept contracts that slash their benefits and incomes, this May Day’s protests will be an opportunity for the Bay Area to defend the rights of all workers to safe jobs, a social safety net, and freedom from fear of destitution or deportation.

The San Francisco International Workers Day Rally 2009 is called “Workers Without Borders, United in Struggle,” and will begin in Dolores Park on Friday May 1st at 12 PM. The march starts at 2 PM and ends in the Civic Center Plaza at 4 PM. Download a flyer for the event. If you would like more information please call or email the organizers at (415)720-0159, (206) 312-9773, may1st09 [at] gmail[dot]com The Oakland International Workers Day Rally 2009 is called “HUMAN RIGHTS FOR ALL: Legalization, Yes We Can!” and the program runs from 3:30 – 4:30pm at Fruitvale BART Plaza, followed by a march to City Hall.


Bay Area worker and immigrant rights advocates will have little rest after the May Day protests end.  On May 5th, the Berkeley City Council will vote on the “SweatFree Berkeley Ordinance” to prohibit the city from using taxpayer money to purchase goods produced in sweatshops.

A few weeks ago, Hesperian co-sponsored an event in support of this ordinance.  Two sweatshop workers (from Honduras and Puerto Rico) talked about the conditions in their factories and why Berkeley should join dozens of other US cities to support SweatFree municipal spending.

If Berkeley passes the ordinance, all contractors, subcontractors, and vendors who compete for Berkeley city contracts would need to sign a Sweat-Free Code of Conduct which includes a living wage, respecting the right to assembly, collective bargaining, non-discrimination, a ban on child labor, and providing safe working conditions. You can find information about the proposed SweatFree Berkeley Ordinance here.

Your support is needed to make sure the ordinance is passed at the Berkeley City Council Meeting on May 5th. Please call or email Mayor Tom Bates and the following Council Representatives, and let them know you support the ordinance.



Tom Bates
(510) 981-7100 P
(510) 981-7199 F
[email protected]
District 1
Linda Maio
(510) 981-7110 P
(510) 981-7111 F
[email protected]
District 2
Darryl Moore
(510) 981-7120 P
(510) 981-7122 F
[email protected]
District 5
Laurie Capitelli
(510) 981-7150 P
(510) 981-7155 F
[email protected]
District 6
Susan Wengraf 
(510) 981-7160 P
(510) 981-7166 F
[email protected]
District 8
Gordon Wozniak
(510) 981-7180 P
(510) 981-7188 F
gwo[email protected]

The SweatFree Ordinance gives us, as taxpayers and consumers, a voice in the market by supporting companies that provide workers with living wages and benefits. It isn’t an earth-shaking change, but is a step on the road to a better world. These changes will be very important to the millions of workers around the world who are fighting for their rights.

HespAF Puebla March 3erian’s book in development, A Worker’s Guide to Health and Safety, will be another step on that road. This easy-to-read and heavily illustrated guide for workers, unions, women’s organizations and others will address the health hazards common to most manufacturing industries, especially those in “free trade zones” around the world.  The manual will focus significant attention on the “social hazards” of working in factories, including sexual harassment and other gender-related abuses, child labor, poverty wages, and other human and labor rights violations.

You can download the section Work dangers and solutions for free in English and Spanish. Please email your comments, suggestion, or questions to us at [email protected]. Your feedback can help us improve the material to better meet your needs.