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May Day 2010

March 2, 2010

BY JAAN LAAMAN

Political prisoners in the u.s., 4SM and I personally want to send everyone a very revolutionary May Day greeting and salute.

May Day. Many of us, especially working folks and of course political activists and revolutionaries, know that May 1st is a traditional workers holiday – a day of labor unity and recognition that is observed and celebrated in nations around the world. In many countries, May 1st is the official labor day, the day to salute the dignity and contribution of working women and men. In the United States, May 1st is not the official labor day. Some people may mistakenly even think that May Day is an old Soviet workers’ day, since it was and still is celebrated in Russia and Europe today. Actually this is a little peculiar, since May Day – International Workers Day – began here in the U.S.A.

In the late 1800s, working people in the United States were fighting for an 8 hour day, an end to child labor, the right to organize unions and more. A large march and rally was held on May 1st, 1886, in Chicago. Thousands upon thousands of workers and their families came out to call for an 8 hour work day. The march was savagely attacked by the Chicago cops. A bomb was later thrown, people were injured and some cops died. The government launched a witch hunt and arrested all the top union leaders and march organizers. Trials, known as the Haymarket Trials were held. The government orchestrated a show trial that railroaded these leaders. Some were executed and others sent to prison.

Working people across the U.S. took up this cause and continued to fight for an 8 hour day. The AFL, the American Federation of Labor (this was before there was an AFL-CIO), asked labor groups around the world for help. In 1889, the First Congress of the 2nd International (a worldwide labor and socialist federation and conference), met in Paris, France, and adopted May 1st as International Workers Day and called on labor around the world to join in and support U.S. workers. There have been labor marches, rallies and gatherings on May 1st, all around the world and in the United States ever since.

In the U.S. the 8 hour day was won, but we all know that the labor movement has a lot of unfinished struggles we yet need to win, including and up to gaining state power for the working class and its allies. The federal government created a ‘Labor Day,’ in September, as a way to take some of the steam out of May 1st. But the importance of labor should be recognized everyday, so we’ll always have May 1st, as International Workers Day, and we’ll take Labor Day in September and any other days they want to give us as well.

In 1958, during the McCarthy era of government repression and surveillance, under the Eisenhower administration, the government actually named May 1st as ‘Law Day.’ Except for maybe some cops and bosses, I’m sure very few people ever think of May Day as ‘U.S. Law Day.’ In the past few years, May Day in the U.S. has again been marked by large marches and rallies which have been focused on immigrant workers. In 2006, there were marches of tens of thousands of people in Los Angeles and other cities across the country.

In these times of bank and corporate frauds, failures, bailouts and sellouts, as the greed and corruption of large sectors of the capitalist system are exposed, working people and our families, friends and allies, should all come out, strong, loud and proud to May Day rallies and events this year. This country and this world belongs to the working men and women who create all the wealth — all the products, goods, food and services. It does NOT belong to the corporate big shots and swindlers or to their big politician partners. They have gotten themselves and all the rest of us into serious trouble with their schemes, greed and corruption. It is past time for us, the common people, the working class, to start thinking about new solutions to economic and political problems. This country, this world belongs to all of us and MayDay is a real good time to begin thinking about taking it back. The Future is Yet Unwritten!

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