Organized labor linked arms with the immigration issue April 24 at a Chicago street corner with powerful symbolism.

“Immigrants’ rights are workers’ rights,” Dennis Gannon said at a rally at Randolph and Des Plaines.

Gannon, head of the Chicago Federation of Labor, pledged support for pro-immigrant rallies planned for May 1, which is May Day—International Workers Day.

Gannon stood near Haymarket Square, where workers gathered in 1886 to push for an eight-hour workday and five-day week. After a tossed bomb killed several police officers, anti-labor sentiment resulted in a roundup of activists, four of whom were hanged.

“When you talk about the Haymarket martyrs, you talk about the struggle of the immigrant workers,” Gannon said.

Predicts bigger rally

Speakers from a variety of labor groups called for amnesty for illegal immigrants, a fast track to citizenship, family reunification and workers’ rights. They also predicted the May 1 gathering will be even larger than Chicago’s March 10 pro-immigrant rally.

“The historic mobilization we saw this last March 10th was just the beginning of a movement,” said Tom Balanoff, president of SEIU Local 1.

“We don’t want to go from being poor, undocumented workers to being poor, documented workers,” said Jorge Mujica, an organizer of the March 10 rally. “It’s not going to give us health care; it’s not going to give us the overtime employers are not paying us.”

Reprinted from the April 25 Chicago Sun-Times

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