May Day, or May 1st, is International Workers Day. It’s a day for workers around the world to stand in unity and celebrate their strength. There will be a global General Strike on May 1st bringing the collective demands of the workers of the world to the 1%. It’s “A day w/out the 99%”. As with any strike, the more who participate in the General Strike, the louder, clearer, and more powerful the message of our collective demands will be to the ruling class, aka the 1%.
May Day Demands:
Workers deserve to have equal opportunities to access the wealth they create. This is really really huge, think about it. Workers should have equal opportunity to access the wealth they create.
Workers should be free from discrimination and harassment for immigration status, race, and sexual/gender identities, and incarceration history.
Why incarceration history?:
I add incarceration to the usual list of anti-discrimination demands related to the workplace. Imagine for a moment trying to get a job if you had to tell EVERY SINGLE potential employer that you have a criminal record. You are immediately judged as a “bad and untrustworthy person”. We spend disproportionate more $$$ on prisons than we do on education, if our prison system is so great, worthy of being funded at 6 times the rate of education, then people should come out of prison rehabilitated and better off than if they had gone to college before becoming incarcerated. I am going to quote Fareed Zakaria here: “In the past two decades, the money that states spend on prisons has risen at six times the rate of spending on higher education. In 2011, California spent $9.6 billion on prisons, versus $5.7 billion on higher education. Since 1980, California has built one college campus; it’s built 21 prisons. The state spends $8,667 per student per year. It spends about $50,000 per inmate per year”. With that kind of spending on prisons we should have people who come out of prison ready to work and be contributing members of society, we should not have a revolving door of recidivism where more African Americans are behind bars today than were enslaved in 1850. http://www.newjimcrow.com/
May Day History:
Back in 1886 some shit went down (serious worker solidarity surrounding the amount of hours worked in a day–and as a result, serious police repression) and workers won the right to an 8hr day, due to their collective actions.
Link w/a brief history of May Day in 1886:
How To Observe May Day:
No Work! No School! No Banking! No Chores! No Business As Usual!
There are solidarity actions (strikes, rallies, marches, walkouts, sit-ins, peace-outs, shutdowns) all over the world happening on May 1st.
One way to observe May Day is to make a statement to your boss by not going to work on May 1st, this is a numbers game, the more workers who act in solidarity the stronger the message to the bosses of the world that workers deserve dignity, respect, and freedom from discrimination.
The easiest way to not go to work is to be honest with your boss about why you are not working on May 1st, educate your boss about May Day, encourage your boss to act in solidarity as well and close for the day if possible. If honesty is not the best policy, then call in sick. How can your boss prove that you are not sick? (don’t post awesome May Day marching photos on Facebook/Twitter if you are worried about retribution from your boss).
I realize that there are those of us, like my sister, who is a Kaiser nurse who’s union is not striking on May Day, and who cannot in good conscience cannot call in sick. For those of you in that situation, I suggest that you can still act in solidarity by helping to spread the word between now and Tues. May 1st.
This link has a comprehensive list of cities who have some type of May Day activity planned:
The Significance of May Day:
May Day is a day to honor the Workers of the world, aka the producers of wealth. May Day is celebrated in over 80 countries as a national holiday. The contribution of the worker to society as a whole needs to be celebrated, but obviously American capitalism can’t have a national holiday celebrating the worker and putting funny ideas in workers’ heads like you deserve to be treated w/dignity and respect & you deserve a living wage & you deserve equal access to healthcare & you deserve equal access to the wealth you create, etc….
In 2006 immigrant workers rejuvenated May Day in the US by taking to the streets in massive numbers showing Americans what a day without an immigrant looks like.
This year, 2012 will see Occupy, Labor, and Immigrant rights groups join together and collectively demand that the worker be treated with dignity and respect. And since so many factors go into treating a worker with dignity and respect, just about everyone can have a “pony in this race”, whether or not you care about healthcare, workplace safety, immigration rights, LGBT rights, the environment, our broken injustice system, education, a living wage, etc…
May Day Is About Compassion and Solidarity:
“An Injury To One Is The Concern Of All!”~May Day slogan
If workers (and those supportive of workers rights) ALL unite together globally on one day to ensure that the 1% hear our voices, regardless of if we paid a lobbyist to carry our voice to them or not, we would be heard, there is definite strength in numbers, that is what solidarity is about.
My Parting Thoughts:
“Power Concedes Nothing Without A Demand. It Never Did And It Never Will.”~Frederick Douglass, a man who escaped slavery, turned great American abolitionist; he was also a writer, orator, statesman, and social reformer. THEY didn’t like him for the same reason THEY didn’t like MLK; he gave African Americans, former slaves, knowledge (and hope). Everyone knows knowledge=power.
**But wait, if knowledge=power and everyone knows that, then why are we spending such a disproportionate amount on prisons vs education in this country?**