Every Worker and Immigrant Is Essential

May 1, 2020

Happy May Day! Today we celebrate May Day and the 20th anniversary of immigrant unity and worker solidarity in Los Angeles.

At the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, we believe every worker and immigrant is essential, and we stand in solidarity and respect for their long struggle for living wages, fair working hours, and health care access.

I salute workers for all that they do to make our lives and society better. Workers’ invaluable contributions and plight have never been more vivid as our country, state, city, and university cope with COVID-19 and its ravaging impact on our economy, daily lives, and the immigrants and workers in health services, transportation, warehouses and grocery stores, and education. These workers are providing essential services to us all, and I am grateful for their efforts.

I also applaud and acknowledge the most vulnerable of our workforce, the undocumented community who care and provide for us as they face hostile and deliberate exclusion from federal resources and a pending decision on DACA that will impact many who also serve on the front lines of the health care industry.

Our institute is working to monitor, research, and engage with immigrant and vulnerable workers as we adjust and respond to the pandemic and its impact on millions of workers and their families. I invite you to learn about our research and academic and community programs as we collectively engage with you and others to navigate not only the pandemic and its impact on workers but also the recovery and efforts to make our workforce stronger, more equitable, and just.

Join me in celebrating #MayDay2020 by joining the #ClapForWorkers at 6pm tonight as part of the Los Angeles May Day – Digital Day of Action, read about 10 Ways You Can Honor International Workers Day While Remaining Safe at Home, and follow the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment to learn about and support our work throughout the year.

Abel Valenzuela Jr. is director of the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Special Advisor to the Chancellor on Immigration Policy, and professor of Chicano studies and urban planning. He is the author of several research articles, books and reports on demography and population studies, immigrant labor markets, immigrant settlements and urban economies. His work has helped frame numerous national public policy narratives concerning immigrants in America’s workforce.