International Workers’ Day, or May Day as it’s more commonly known, is a day to celebrate workers, Unions and labor movement victories like the weekend, overtime pay, job protections, collective bargaining, pension benefits, and protections against injury on the job. May 1 was chosen to celebrate workers in memory of the Haymarket Massacre in Chicago in 1886, and the Union leaders who gave their lives in the fight for the eight-hour workday.
International Workers’ Day is also a day of remembrance. This year, we have many lost workers to remember. Emmanuel Gomez, an electrician at UCLA, and Maritza Telleria, a 20-year administrative worker at UC San Francisco, were Teamsters who died of COVID-19 in the past year after likely being exposed at their workplaces. Today we remember brother Gomez and sister Telleria, as well as any other Teamsters members and their family members who have passed while doing their jobs in the last year, but whose names are not known.
We honor our members and all other workers who have lost their lives or became sick due to COVID-19, especially Teamsters skilled trades workers and medical support staff who continued to work on campus and in the medical centers during the worst of the pandemic. Our prayers are with them, their families, and their friends.
While the scale of this past year’s losses will likely not be understood for years to come, we do know that we Teamsters have fought hard this year and protected the health and safety of the vast majority of us statewide. We’ve also stood together to protect our jobs and paychecks when millions across the country were deprived of employment and income. We held the UC and CSU accountable to their stated ideals and forced them do right thing during a pandemic that has challenged us all.
And we’re still fighting, especially for the reinstatement of those few Teamsters members who were laid off due to the pandemic. We continue to fight for safety of all UC and CSU workers, especially as many begin to return to workplaces after many months of working from home.
We applaud all of the Teamsters who have continued to do good work despite the pandemic, whether you have been working on campus or from your home. We admire your continued dedication to keeping UC and CSU services running for students, faculty and staff. Your hard work and sacrifice do not go unnoticed.
Having witnessed the callous side of our employers — the ones who lay off workers in the middle of a pandemic, those who flout health and safety requirement, and worse — we know it’s more important than ever to stand together in our Union. When lives are on the line, we must never stop fighting for our rights and our livelihoods.
On this day, let’s rededicate ourselves to our Union and our fight for fair pay, benefits and a voice at work. As we head into contract negotiations for most of our Teamsters 2010 members in the upcoming year, we salute our members who work hard every day keeping the UC and CSU running, and making sure all members are treated fairly and our rights on-the-job are respected.
Happy International Workers’ Day.