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May Day rally

Partners in Power
New York Teacher
May Day
Erica Berger
Harmon (front, center) leads other UFT members at the rally.

UFT members joined fellow unionized workers and immigrants to stand together as Partners in Power, the theme of the 2018 May Day rally in Washington Square Park in Manhattan. “If we don’t fight for each other, no one will,” said Katherine Brezler, one of the speakers. A teacher at PS 57 in the Bronx, Brezler told the thousands who gathered May 1 under the colorful banners of their unions and immigrant groups about the importance of strong unions. “We are workers under attack and the only way to fight organized greed is with organized labor,” she said. Paraprofessional Andrea Reyes of PS 583 in the Bronx supported that idea. “I’m here to fight for my union to show we’re stronger than they are,” she said. The pounding beat of the all-women’s drum line Fogo Azul (blue fire) fired up the protesters drifting in from schools and work sites. UFT Vice President Janella Hinds, who also serves as treasurer of the New York City Central Labor Council, emphasized the power created by labor solidarity as she called on those gathered to exercise that power against “those who try to come after us, those who would silence us.” Thomas Hasler, a teacher at the International HS in Manhattan, said he was there to support a colleague who is enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which is under threat from President Trump, and the many undocumented students at his school. “I am here to support checks and balances so the richest do not have all the power and to fight for a society that can send its kids to college and have access to good health care,” he said. The rally was sponsored by the May Day New York Coalition, an alliance of labor and immigrant rights groups of which the UFT is a member. “We know that our power comes from standing together and that is what this rally is all about,” said Anthony Harmon, who led the UFT contingent. As one poster summed it up, “You can’t deport a movement.”