Sunday, April 30, 2017

Why the May Day strikes and marches?

In the rest of the world, May Day is International Workers Day, a holiday celebrating the contributions we all make through our labor that keep society going. Though first proposed by organized U.S. workers in the late 19th century, the day has been little noted in the United States; we are not accustomed to honoring labor.

One of the gifts of our large immigrant population has been the return of May Day to prominence. Some of the largest demonstrations in recent years were the 2006 May Day marches led by thousands of Latinx workers who came out of the shadows to demand immigration reform and a path to citizenship for undocumented persons. Half a million marched in Los Angeles and hundreds of thousands in aggregate all over the country.

And now we have a president who spouts hate against Latinx, Black, and Asian-origin people, and against vulnerable women. That is, the Cheato trashes the true U.S. working class, the people whose toil keeps our post-industrial society going. So May Day again has risen in prominence. I saw six of these signs on one block of businesses on San Francisco's Mission Street today. There is not quite the atmosphere of excited anticipation there was in the air before the 2006 marches. What with Trump's turning the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) into a thuggish deportation force, no wonder.

But there's a tough determination in the community this year, making May Day the occasion of a call to "shit it down," not just for a parade.

And, at least some of organized labor gets where the action among workers is. This graphic is from the California Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, some of the traditional gorillas of the union movement.

For more information about broad national May Day demonstrations, enter a zip code here. For national general strike information, use this link. And in the Bay Area, ABC7news has a good list of local activities.

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