Saturday, May 26 , 2018, 4:44 pm | Fair 74º


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May Day Rally Marks ‘Day of Worker, Day of Immigrant’ in Santa Maria

Members of several unions gather at Main Street, Broadway corner for action

Santa Maria Valley educators marked May Day on Monday afternoon with a march down Broadway, and joined labor union workers for a rally. Click to view larger
Santa Maria Valley educators marked May Day on Monday afternoon with a march down Broadway, and joined labor union workers for a rally. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Maria Valley educators marked May Day on Monday afternoon with a march down Broadway to join labor union workers rallying and chanting on a corner in the city’s downtown.

The actions were part of the International Day of the Worker and Day of the Immigrant, while also urging legislators to pass a bill declaring California a sanctuary state. 

Members of Santa Maria Elementary Education Association (SMEEA), Allan Hancock College Part-Time Faculty Association, and other education unions met at Santa Maria High School to walk several blocks to the rally. 

“The main purpose is to bring attention to public education in California and the rights and responsibilities that public educators have regardless if they’re teachers, classified, management,” said Jose Segura, president of SMEEA. “We all have a commitment to our students and to our community. This is our way of showing that.”

As educators, Segura said they don’t just support students in the classrooms, but also students’ families.

At the end of the 1-mile walk, educators joined up with members of other unions, including United Domestic Workers and UFCW Local 770, the grocery workers’ union. 

Other participants represented nonprofit groups such as Santa Barbara County Action Network, the Democratic Club of Santa Maria Valley and the Central Coast Alliance for a Sustainable Economy or CAUSE.

Yesenia DeCasaus, Central Coast regional coordinator for United Domestic Workers, said members showed up to rally for equal rights.

Marchers carrying signs hold a May Day rally Monday in Santa Maria. Click to view larger
Marchers carrying signs hold a May Day rally Monday in Santa Maria. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

“We represent home care workers, mostly women, mostly immigrants,” she said, adding that the union has 2,000 members in Santa Barbara County.

She said the union’s members were concerned about federal legislation under President Donald Trump’s administration.

Along with wearing union T-shirts and holding signs, the approximately 100 rally participants shouted assorted chants in English and Spanish, drawing frequent honked horns from passing motorists.

CAUSE rallied several unions to participate in the May Day event.

“We’re getting together to be in unity with the community,” said Abraham Melendrez, a CAUSE organizer.

“I think this shows the diversity of the city and how united we are,” he added.

CAUSE also sought to round up support for state Senate Bill 54, the California Values Act, to designation California as a sanctuary state. The bill is headed to the California Assembly.

Monday’s May Day action came months after a “Day Without Immigrants “ saw hundreds of students stay home from school while businesses closed for the day.

Fearing a similar action, school administrators urged parents to send students to school Monday. 

The Santa Maria-Bonita School District noted about 350 more absences than a normal Monday for the campuses housing more than 16,800 students, spokeswoman Maggie White said.

Absences for a normal Monday number 650, she added.

In comparison, the district logged a 43 percent absence rate during February’s action.

The Santa Maria Joint Union High School District and Guadalupe Union School District reported normal attendance Monday.

May Day gatherings also took place Monday in Santa Barbara, where a group marched on State Street and rallied in De la Guerra Plaza.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

May Day marchers hit the streets Monday in Santa Barbara. Click to view larger
May Day marchers hit the streets Monday in Santa Barbara. (Diego Topete / Noozhawk photo)

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