By Lisa Nunez con Martin Alvarado
Singing and chants were heard around the capitol as workers, union members and their came together on May Day to support immigrant labor and demand that, for all workers: We Deserve Better! an afternoon rally and march from Brittingham Park to the capitol steps, was a call for economic equality and justice.
Rainbows of color from balloons, hand painted signs and banners from many different collective-bargaining groups underscored the words of the chants:
Estamos en la lucha!”
“Wisconsin Listen! We are in the fight!”
Jorge Carrera spoke, as Alex Gilles translated into English for him.
“In this country there are only two kinds of workers,” he explained. “Those with papers and those without papers.
“They tell us workers that we are illegal. They say we don't respect the law. I say enough of the hypocrisy.
“When we work from sun up to sun down, when we break our backs for a wage of misery – they tell us we are very good workers.
“When we work the land and collect its fruits, when we cook and serve the food at their tables – then we don't break the law.
“When we ask for the same rights as any other human being, when we ask for justice –
“Then we are criminals.”
The crowd sang and yelled it's support. “Si, se puede! Si se puede!” “Yes, we can! Yes, we can!”
Data and statistics compiled by the American Immigration Council's Immigration Policy Center, tell the same story of Wisconsin immigrant workers:
Migrant workers constituted more than 40% of all hired dairy employees (totaling roughly 5,316 individuals) in 2008, according to a study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
More than 5,000 migrant workers, plus 1,000 dependents, arrive annually in Wisconsin to work in canning, food-processing, and agriculture, according to 2003 study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Immigrant workers and businesses are also a necessary part of Wisconsin's overall economic health as a result of their buying power and a vital source of growth in new jobs:
Migrant workers’ direct spending generated about $14.9 million per year in income to Wisconsin residents and business,
Roughly $8.7 million in tax revenue to state and local governments and
The creation of 417 jobs for Wisconsinites annually, according to the same study.
The 2010 purchasing power of Latinos in Wisconsin totaled $6.2 billion—an increase of 691.2% since 1990. Asian buying power totaled $3.3 billion—an increase of 534% since 1990
Wisconsin’s 6,785 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $2.3 billion and employed 15,808 people in 2007, the last year for which data is available.
The state’s 5,619 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $2.4 billion and employed 10,901 people in 2007 (latest available data) according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners.
“Aqui estamos!” rang out voices of many accents from workers and unionists of all kinds, their family and compatriots of all ages,
“Y no nos vamos!”
“We're here, and we’re not going away!”