May 1st is International Workers Day - What are you doing to honor the occasion?
For those of you who remember when we used to have a thriving American labor movement, May Day was the first official labor day holiday. In 1886, May 1st marked the beginning of a nationwide campaign for the eight-hour day. It took many years of hard labor and dangerous protest, but in the end, our ancestors earned the right of the eight-hour day.
One hundred and twenty-one years later, the struggle for American workers to receive their just desserts continues. Private sector unionism is down to around eight percent of the total workforce; for workers as a whole it hovers somewhere around fifteen percent. Meanwhile, healthcare costs are skyrocketing, pay isn't keeping up with inflation, middle-class family wage jobs are disappearing, and the politicians we pay to make life easier for all of us aren't getting the job done.
The time has come to bring back the spirit of 1886. The time has come to ring in a new year of grassroots trade unionism by celebrating May Day, International Workers Day, in every city in the union.
What will you do to honor this occasion? Rent a film about a workers' rebellion in Mexico? Go to a rally at the town square? Tell your kids about how your Dad lived through the worst strike of his life? Whatever you do, make sure you remember the sacrifices that all workers have been through to make our lives better today.
And while you're at it, remember those workers who are struggling to make a better life for themselves right now. Like the brave employees of Macy's Tacoma, struggling for over a year now to get a decent contract with health benefits. Or the Pierce County janitors, striving like hell to get a union so they don't have to deal with the rank exploitation of their malicious employers. Or how about the teachers down in Oaxaca, Mexico, who had to wage an actual pitched battle in the streets to protect themselves from the right-wing goon squads of the corporate elite.
Whatever you do this May Day, remember that this is not only a time for reflection, it's a time for action. Take action this May Day in some simple way. Write a check to a labor-friendly organization. Shop at a union grocery store, and tell the clerk you will support them when their contract comes up in May. Go to a protest and raise some hell.
And if you're in the Tacoma area, this May 1st, I hope you will attend America in Solidarity's Third Annual Workers' Celebration for May Day 2007, held this year at King's Books, 218 Saint Helens Ave, Tacoma, 98402. Kings's phone number is (253) 272-8801
This year, America in Solidarity hopes to bring together workers from across the spectrum, to remember the successes we've won andprepare for the victories we have yet to achieve. This year's event will feature local politicians, music, snacks, and even a movie. Bring your passion, your worklife stories, and your whole family to the Third Annual May Day Workers' Celebration in Tacoma. By bringing back the noble tradition of May Day as a workers' holiday, Solidarity hopes to remind Americans of just what was lost, and what can and should be regained.
Together, we can change the world. That's what this Labor Movement is all about.
P.S. If you are an activist/organizer, or a member of an organization that you think would like to be included in this year's celebration, please contact us at 253-227-6884. We'd love to have the help, and you ould be the one that makes this year's better than ever!
Categories: Workers' Rights