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Hundreds march in San Francisco May Day rally to support organized labor

Hundreds march in S.F. May Day rally 02:45

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- Hundreds of workers from different unions around the Bay Area marched to San Francisco City Hall for the annual May Day rally, also celebrated as International Workers Day in some countries.

"It's important to highlight that workers are at the core of everything we do in our society," said Geri Almanza, with the United Educators of San Francisco. "We know that unions are a way for us to have those basic rights and to have a basic livable wage."

The marchers worked their way along Market Street Sunday morning to a rally in Civic Center Plaza. Speakers addressed ongoing labor disputes across a range of industries in the Bay Area. They also mentioned some companies by name where employees recently worked to create new unions.

"We will continue winning at Starbucks. We will continue winning at Amazon, at Chevron, until all work forces in the United States that want to union are unionized," one speaker said.

For those union members participating in the event, it is a welcome sign to see more people embrace collective bargaining.

"I think one of the reasons why the labor movement is growing is because work around the world is becoming more difficult," said Alex Schmaus with the United Educators of San Francisco. "We really do have to fight with forces that just want to profit after labor."

Amazon said in a statement to CBS News last month that it prefers to negotiate directly with its employees. Starbucks said it would continue to work on improving the experience for employees after some of its workers elected to join a union.

While some speakers and attendees voiced their anger at the rise of capitalism, others acknowledged it is a part of the economy they must learn to navigate as union members.

"We live in a capitalist society so it's hard to detach from that," Almanza told KPIX.

She remains optimistic about the role unions will have in the years ahead.

"It feels really exciting, actually, right now to see the level interest of workers across different sectors."

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