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May Day! 

Distress calls from the community

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In recent weeks, we've seen many folks take loud and public action against gun violence, unaffordable housing, immigration and calls for ending wars and racism. The callous slashing of summer school classes brought swift passionate action (including a sit-in) at the usually placid Santa Rosa Junior College campus.

At the Hyatt Vineyard Creek in Santa Rosa, the room cleaners, primarily immigrant women, are required to clean 28 rooms per shift (at low pay), when 15 to 18 would be a burdensome enough expectation. They organized and were recognized by Unite Here, which began negotiations last fall with the Hyatt, as well as the Petaluma Sheraton, but these hotels won't agree to a fair contract.

Fair pay for a fair day of work needs to be fought for continually, and this marching season is no exception. The local observation of this year's May Day (Primero de Mayo) walkout, rally and march returns to its heritage in celebration of working people, organized and not. The event theme is "Workers Struggle Has No Borders" and calls for living wage jobs, rent control, immigration reform, an end to violence and more.

May Day attendees will gather at 2pm on May 1 at Roseland Village, 777 Sebastopol Road, and, following a rally, will begin marching at 3:30pm. They'll stop along the route at the Hyatt, where the unionized workers will give an update on the campaign for a fair contract. Then they'll all march on to Santa Rosa City Hall.

In anticipation of the May Day march, there will be a free showing on April 21 of the movie Walkout. The film dramatizes and offers a bit of historical perspective of the true story of the 1968 student walkouts at five East L.A. schools, seen as one of the founding moments of the Chicano Movement. The film screening is at 6:30pm at the Peace & Justice Center, 467 Sebastopol Ave., Santa Rosa.

For more information about the May Day walkout check out facebook.com/May1stCoalitionSC.

David Janda has lived in Sonoma County for 45 years, and has participated in every May Day March since 2006.

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