May Day: As American as Apple Pieby Art Jacobson on May. 01, 2012, under American History, Capitalism, Occupy Wall Street, Politics, Right to Strike, The American Life, Unions, Working Poor
There is more to May Day than a trip around the maypole. Today is International Worker’s Day, when we remember, and celebrate, battles fought and won by the American labor movement.
On the 2nd of November in 1909, during what became known as the “Uprising of the 20,000,” female garment workers went on strike in New York. Many were arrested and a judge told those arrested: “You are on strike against God.”
Wow…who’d have guessed?
There’s nothing unpatriotic about the union movement; it’s as American as apple pie. Boston carpenters walked off the job in April of 1825 in the interest of a 10-hour workday. Ten years later, children working in the silk mills in Patterson, New Jersey went on strike. Of course they had an outrageous demand: A six-day workweek of eleven hour days.
Sweatshops, eleven-hour days, inadequate wages and wretched or dangerous working conditions are largely a thing of the past. The result is we tend not to notice or care about Capitalism’s continuous attack on the power and even the existence of the union movement. This may not be a good thing.
A union is the average hourly worker’s only defense against the economic power of a system that always tries to buy raw materials (that’s you, oh my brothers and sisters) at the lowest possible price. It’s not dumb, if you’re an hourly wage person, to remember you’re just so much raw material to that system.
May Day Events Today:
9:00 Annual Tucson May 1st Coalition March for Immigrant and Workers Rights, from Greyhound Park Parking lot to Armory Park for a Noon rally with speakers, entertainment and info booths.
Afterwards, join Occupy Tucson at Armory Park for extended fun, entertainment, potluck, and other activities, well into the evening.