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Bay Area 'May Day' Protests, Rallies Call For Workers' Rights, End Of Deportations

SAN FRANCISCO  (CBS SF) -- Labor activists across the Bay Area rallied Thursday to celebrate International Workers Day, taking the opportunity to champion causes from minimum wage hikes to immigration reform to development projects.

Events in Oakland, San Jose and Santa Rosa had immigration reform at the center of their platform.

A 3 p.m. march from Our Lady of Guadalupe Church to San Jose City Hall called for an end to deportations and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Meanwhile, in Oakland a 3:30 p.m. march from the Fruitvale BART Plaza also called for an end to deportations. Organizers said they sought to draw connections between the struggle of Bay Area people and color and a broader fight for economic and social justice nationwide.

The Oakland event also stood in opposition to police brutality, as did a Santa Rosa event on Sebastopol Road, where the focus was on Andy Lopez, a 13-year-old boy who was shot and killed by a Sonoma County sheriff's deputy last Oct. 22.

The Santa Rosa event also called for a minimum wage hike to $12 -- something that union members gathered in San Francisco also called for.

Union leaders advocated at a noon rally on the steps of San Francisco City Hall to allow new construction on the city's waterfront and to fund new construction for city infrastructure, including the police and fire stations.

San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council Secretary-Treasurer Michael Theriault told a crowd of cheering, orange-shirted members of his union there to oppose a limit on new building heights along the waterfront on the June ballot.

Members waved signs that said, "No on B."

"This proposition is nuts," Theriault told the crowd, arguing that new restrictions on development would exacerbate the city's housing crisis.  He said that 10,000 people moved to San Francisco last year and only 2,500 new housing units were built.

"A few individuals with a little money in their pockets are worried about their views," he said.

Proponents argue that valuable public space will be lost to luxury housing if waterfront construction is allowed to continue unabated.

Martin Halloran, president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, touted a different ballot measure, one that would allocate a $400 million bond to upgrades for the police and fire departments, the municipal water system and other emergency infrastructure.

He said that dilapidated police and fire stations led to errors in the response to the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and that passing Measure A was necessary to keep the city prepared for a major earthquake.

Mayor Ed Lee had planned to attend the noon rally but had to cancel at the last minute, sending a proclamation declaring today International Workers Day in his place.

In San Francisco Thursday morning, a collection of groups began rallying for May Day as early as 5 a.m., with workers skipping their jobs and taking to the streets with picket signs and chants demanding better pay, working conditions and fair labor laws.

"Right now as it is with decent jobs a lot of us can't afford to live here," said one demonstrator. "And when you have these contractors that are not paying Bay Area standard wages that just creates another disenfranchised sectioned of the workforce" Another worker pointed out San Francisco's long history with labor movements.

"This city was founded on union labor," said Alex Martinez. " I mean in 1934 the city was shut down because workers were being mistreated."

In 2012, some May Day activists clashed with police in Oakland and a number of businesses in San Francisco's Mission District were vandalized and damaged.

Last year, the protests were mostly peaceful and organizers said they expected the same this year.

TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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