May Day 2021 celebrates worker solidarity amid pandemic, income inequality in Bay Area

"It's been challenging. Many workers have lost lives doing what they do, many workers laid off."
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Workers across the Bay Area took to the streets Saturday to celebrate International Workers' Day or May Day. This year's May Day marches took on a different tone, remembering those essential workers lost to the COVID-19 pandemic and demanding better labor protections.

There was drumbeat on Market Street, union workers marching to celebrate May Day 2021.

"Because we fought to have rights and work eight hours," said Monique Brown.

Brown is a Carpenter from Richmond, who stayed on the job through most of the Pandemic she's marching for those who could not.

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"I'm glad everyone pulled together and helped those who weren't able to work, hopefully things will get better," said Brown.

May Day celebrates International Workers and their fight for an eight hour work day, going back 100 years. This year, May day has greater meaning."

"It's been challenging. Many workers have lost lives doing what they do, many workers laid off," said Joseph Bryant, president of SEIU Local 1021.

RELATED: U.S. essential workers hold May Day strike, demand time off, hazard pay

Many labor Unions are calling for the passage of Protecting the right to Organize or PRO Act to help empower workers to negotiate better wages. They also want President Biden's call for a $15 minimum wage to go beyond just Federal workers.

"We're asking for fifteen dollars to be the base it's still not a living wage for this country, that's not too much to ask," Tefere Gebre, Executive VP, AFL-CIO.

The march ended at civic center with speakers taking the stage.

RELATED: Coronavirus: Smaller May Day protests for hazard pay, better protections in midst of COVID-19 pandemic

In Oakland, some workers celebrated May Day in their cars. A car caravan was on the move, taking the issues of worker's rights and racial injustice to the streets.

"Our theme is uniting low wage workers at the same time protecting against police violence," said Cheri Murphy from Gig Workers Rising.

In San Jose, a march went through downtown Saturday afternoon protesting income inequality and demanding better protections for essential workers.

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