Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Day: International Workers Day!

Wisdom Quarterly; Holt Labor Library, San Francisco, Int'l Workers Day, May 1, 2013
Russian bhumi-devi blesses collectivist workers (
May 1, 1886, became historic. On that day thousands of workers in the larger industrial cities poured into the streets demanding eight hours [as the limit on the working day].

Capitalism divides, Mayday unites (gawker)
About 340,000 took part in demonstrations in Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Baltimore, Washington, New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and other places.
Of these nearly 200,000 actually went out on strike. About 42,000 won the eight-hour day. Another 150,000 got a shorter day than they had had before.
Future, past (
Chicago workers supported the movement most vigorously. To combat labor organization and activity, Chicago employers organized and acted. Pinkerton detectives and special deputies were in evidence. Policemen were swinging billies [clubs, cudgels, modern whips] and breading up knots of workers on street corners.
At the factory gates of McCormick Harvester Co., where a strike meeting was being held on May 3, policemen swung their clubs and then fired into the running strikers....
The speaker at the meeting was August Spies, a member of the Central Labor Union, which had supported the May First strike. He was also a member of a militant labor group that was at the time influential in the Chicago Labor movement. Six workers were killed that day and many wounded.
Anger ran high through the Chicago labor movement. About 3,000 attended a protest meeting the next day at Haymarket Square.... More

Bangladeshi workers demonstrate for humane labor conditions after tragedy (

Lessons for May Day
Today is May Day. There are many Americans, including many on the American left, who have a somewhat skewed view of the history of May 1st as a workers' holiday. (There are even more Americans who have no idea what May Day is at all, and a few old and cranky conservatives who know the holiday as "Loyalty Day").
The idea is that it was called into being by early socialists and anarchists in the United States on May 1st, 1886, and that it spread worldwide in remembrance of the anarchist Haymarket Martyrs who were falsely persecuted for throwing bombs at the original May Day protest in Chicago that year and later hanged for their political beliefs.
That all has an element of truth to it, but according to Prof. Priscilla Murolo -- a historian at Sarah Lawrence College and author of From The Folks Who Brought You The Weekend: A Short Illustrated History of Labor in the United States -- it's a bit more complicated than that. More

Uncle Sam: "I want you to stop being afraid" (

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