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New Orleans Hospitality Workers Demand Protections At May Day Protest

Travis Lux
A homemade banner is draped over a van at a May Day rally in Mid City, New Orleans. May 1, 2020.

Hospitality workers took to the streets Friday afternoon calling for free healthcare and expanded unemployment benefits, among other demands.

In observance of May Day, the international workers rights holiday, dozens of socially-distanced protesters lined up in cars and on bikes in a Mid City New Orleans parking lot.

Before rolling into the streets, organizers with the New Orleans Hospitality Workers Alliance outlined their demands. Among them: free healthcare and testing for hospitality workers, hazard pay and access to protective gear, housing as a human right, and unemployment assistance through the end of 2020.

“We are saying workers will not die for capitalist profits,” one organizer said through a megaphone from the roof of a parked car.

Credit Travis Lux / WWNO
Malcolm Suber attends the May Day rally in Mid City from his car, as a social distancing measure. May 1, 2020.

The protest comes as business leaders and some elected officials push to reopen the state’s economy.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said Monday he’d hoped to let the statewide stay-at-home order expire and begin the first phase of reopening today but, after examining the data and talking to experts, determined the state was not ready.

Instead, Edwards extended the stay-at-home order until May 15. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s city-wde stay-at-home order expires May 16.

As Coastal Reporter, Travis Lux covers flood protection, coastal restoration, infrastructure, the energy and seafood industries, and the environment. In this role he's reported on everything from pipeline protests in the Atchafalaya swamp, to how shrimpers cope with low prices. He had a big hand in producing the series, New Orleans: Ready Or Not?, which examined how prepared New Orleans is for a future with more extreme weather. In 2017, Travis co-produced two episodes of TriPod: New Orleans at 300 examining New Orleans' historic efforts at flood protection. One episode, NOLA vs Nature: The Other Biggest Flood in New Orleans History, was recognized with awards from the Public Radio News Directors and the New Orleans Press Club. His stories often find a wider audience on national programs, too, like NPR's Morning Edition, WBUR's Here and Now, and WHYY's The Pulse.

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