Nationwide – On Thursday, April 28, day laborers in worker centers across the country hosted vigils, marches, and other actions to remember fallen colleagues, loved ones and friends, in a moving nationwide commemoration of those who have died from work-related injuries, illness and abuse. Workers denounced the suffering inflicted on immigrants through exploitation, indifference and neglect in the workplace and by racist scapegoating in national politics, and demanded respect and action by government officials.
“For those who have died, for those who have been excluded, for those who survived and labor on, we cannot tolerate the vitriol of xenophobic Republicans or the silence of disingenuous Democrats, we demand action that will turn the tide on this national crisis,” said Nadia Marin Molina, NDLON Co-Director. “We will call upon President Biden to do for immigrant workers what President Obama did for Dreamers. For starters, Biden should use his executive authority to protect — through deportation relief and work authorization — the surviving family members of immigrants who lost their lives to the coronavirus while doing the front-line work that kept the country running.”
The actions throughout the week brought together workers across many industries and sectors – day laborers in construction, domestic workers, the restaurant and service industry, factories, warehouses, and farms, among many others.
Many participated in a moving national virtual memorial where workers shared about the loss of colleagues and loved ones. In Westchester, New York, several day laborers shared a poem about loss and hope. “We buried many loved ones, but we also buried our fears.” began the poem, read by workers at a vigil hosted by the United Community Center of Westchester, New York.
On Tuesday, NDLON released a timely report, “Recovering From Climate Disasters: Immigrant Day Laborers As Second Responders,” which was launched with a panel joined by OSHA officials, Familias Unidas en Accion, and the New Orleans Workers Center for Racial Justice. Read the full report here. On Wednesday, workers and families with the Nashville-based organization Workers Dignity led a powerful march to denounce multiple recent deaths of workers in the construction industry, and to call on state lawmakers and the Governor take specific actions to address the crisis of unsafe work conditions.
Overall, fifty organizations nationwide joined NDLON in demanding that President Biden take concrete steps to reverse immigrant exploitation, scapegoating and rights deprivation, highlighting three specific demands: (1) deportation relief and work authorization for those who lost family in the pandemic, for those who have denounced workplace abuse, and those who continued to work during the pandemic and other disasters, (2) an end to the exclusion of immigrants from pandemic relief, including access to vaccines and unemployment aid, and (3) funding for the Biden administration and labor agencies to protect workers, not deport them.