May 1. While the United States celebrates its Labor Day in early September,
everyone else lots of other countries properly observe Labor Day on May 1, which is even called International Workers' Day. Here in Portugal it's even more obviously named "Dia dos Trabalhadores" – Workers' Day. A little more straightforward than "labor;" when I was a kid I wasn't entirely sure what labor meant and often got Labor Day confused with Arbor Day. Now, that is just pathetic and sad. [continue reading by clicking below]
I've referred before to the history of the true Labor Day in the US. International Worker's Day is the commemoration of the Haymarket Riots in Chicago, Illinois (1886). Read about that in the Wikipedia entry for May Day or here, from Chicago Public Library. May 1st was the decided-upon date for Labor Day because that is the date by which the labor movement demanded that the eight-hour work day be instated (1886). General strikes resulted but the eight-hour work day eventually became standard in the US.
Now, fat cat labor union leaders, government leaders, media (you know, the usual suspects) have colluded to hide the radical roots of May Day/Labor Day, perhaps due to fear of communists, anarchists, and socialists. And so Labor Day was divorced from its history and moved to the first Monday of September. (read more about radical history here).
It seems particularly fitting to acknowledge these roots this year, with many protests, calls for boycotts, parades, and marches planned for International Labor Day, given the current "debate" regarding immigration. Those immigrants? They're working low-wage jobs, more often than not without any of the various benefits that labor unions have won in the past (like the eight hour day or the weekend, forget about health care!).
Over at Woman of Color, I saw that "A Day Without Immigrants" rally and a May Day parade are planned in Ann Arbor, MI. Given the calls for boycotts on working, going to school, etc., some meat-packing plants are closing their doors, expecting that most of their workers (many of whom are Latino and/or immigrants) will be at protest marches (as seen at Daily Kos). Even some politicians (California State Senate) are getting into the idea. Chris Kromm wonders why more progressive bloggers are not blogging about May Day and the called-for boycott. Majikthise offers the opinion that there's not much out there about progressive immigration policies, and that the lack of discussion among [white?-ed.] progressive bloggers may be due to, among other factors, race. Surprise, surprise.
Finally, I will leave you with George W's idea of celebrating May Day. (I don't know whether to cry or laugh, or both in a fit of sheer hysterics)