Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What Is May Day?

This past week, workers from around the globe commemorated the 127th anniversary of the massacre at Haymarket Square, where four unarmed workers were shot and killed by police who were attempting to breakup a general strike.  Remembrance of this tragic event became known as International Workers' Day, or May Day. 

May Day is an official holiday in over 80 countries, but you rarely hear anything about May Day in the United States.  Why is that?  To be frank, the big labor federations in the United States have long been in bed with federal agencies that are controlled by anti-worker corporate interests, as well as participating in class-collaboration with corporations themselves.  It was in this spirit that the Knights of Labor went along with Grover Cleveland's endeavor to sweep the Haymarket Affair under the rug by creating Labor Day in September.

So just what were the workers fighting for with their general strike in Haymarket Square?  A little thing you might recognize called the eight hour work day.  Four innocent workers gave their lives to secure that right that is so often taken for granted.  Today, you can barely get workers to organize because people are afraid of losing their $9 an hour job, when we are able to work a normal work week because workers just like us were willing to sacrifice to make sure the next generation had better working conditions than they enjoyed.

So my question is, what are you willing to sacrifice for the workers of tomorrow?

Just a thought.

In Solidarity,


P.S. - Here are a few links if you are interested in learning more about the labor movement outside the United States:

Eric Lee from LabourStart has just published a book that will introduce you to the various labor federations from around the world.  You can find it here: https://www.createspace.com/4252731

To see what a real labor federation looks like, check out the World Federation of Trade Unions.

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