From: Michael email@example.com
Date: Fri, 22 Apr 2005
CFL Reclaims May Day
A Labor Activism Alert from the Cultural Workers Consort...
I received this alert from the SPUSA list, however it originates
with the Chicago Federation of Labor. It is no surprise that
the SP, or any other left group, would celebrate May Day, however
it is greatly exciting when any AFL-CIO state federation does so.
Many of us have made valiant attempts to have city, state or area
Labor Feds engage in an official May Day rally, march or event
of any kind, but they generally will not agree. Happily, Chicago's
Lab Fed is reclaiming May Day and celebrating it in its actual
birthplace. Haymarket Square will once again be the site of a May
Day action. Just as UNITE! has for many years acknowledged the
site of the Triangle Factory Fire on that tragedy's aniversary,
the Haymarket Martyrs will be now be officially acknowledged. But
it appears that this May Day celebration will go well beyond a
retrospective; with the right nurturing, it may become the
standard celebration of workers. Labor Feds all over, and the
AFL-CIO itself, should take note. The original May Day was the
culmination of the fight for the 8-hour workday, as well as the
struggle for decent pay and working conditions. No battle could
have more justification.
Surely, there will be other May Day events going on this year,
whether or not they be organized by such "official" groups. As
one who has organized a number of May Day concerts/rallies over
the last few years, I am in total support of such independent
ventures. Further, an argument can be made that once the "official"
acknowledgement of May Day is made, much of the radical edge will
be worn off. But it is also vitally important to consider that May
Day is the real Labor Day---in most countries it is the only one.
Yet, here, where May Day was birthed (or, perhaps, where it first
exploded upon the people), it has been demonized. Worse, its been
erased from the general memory. May Day rallies and parades
occured all over the US for decades but they came to a dead stop
during the Red scare of the 1950s. So, those who died during the
3-day riot that surrounded the first May Day in 1886 became
marginalized as dissidents, conspirators and terrorists. But we
never forgot them. And, it is with this in mind that I am happy
to commend Chicago's Labor Fed, as well as the other sponsoring
organizations, for an important first step in bringing justice
to the memory of May Day.
I have also been made aware of a wonderful 3-day event in Albany
NY and, of course, the large-scale rally which will occur in
Central Park in NYC this year. In the case of the latter, it taps
most generously into the radical heart of May Day and it becomes
a vehicle for anti-war activists, alongside we in the Labor movement.
Happy May Day sisters and brothers!
Attention Working Families!
Celebrate the Great May Day Celebration
Reclaiming The Original Labor Day in Chicago!
Sunday, May 1st at 2:00 PM
at the site of the NEW HAYMARKET MEMORIAL
Des Plaines Ave. between Randolph and Lake Street
Workers all over the world recognize May 1st (May Day) as Labor
Day because of the tragic events that occurred right here in
Chicago at Haymarket Square in 1886 that have come to symbolize
our nation's struggle to uphold workers' rights to organize and
to exercise their constitutional right to free speech and
Now 119 years later, the Chicago labor community is gathering
for the first time on May Day to honor its past, pay tribute to
its fallen heroes, and continue to promote and fight for many of
the same workplace issues that the Haymarket Martyrs defended
with their own lives.
Join your fellow workers at this event, which will include
speeches by a distingui! shed group of union leaders, religious
clergy and labor historians. Union musicians will provide
entertainment as well. And a delegation of Colombian trade
unionists will be on hand to install the first international
plaque on the new Haymarket Memorial.
This event is being called by the Illinois Labor History
Society, the Chicago Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, the Illinois
AFL-CIO, Jobs with Justice and the Chicago Religious Leadership
Network on Latin America.