Today is May Day, when we celebrate the achievements and honor the sacrifices made by workers all over the world.
Also known as International Workers’ Day, May Day’s roots in the U.S. originated with Chicago’s bloody Haymarket Riot of 1886, when a union strike for better work hours turned into a violent clash with police.
This year, recognizing workers’ rights and dignity remains just as pressing, as is the need to spotlight pervasive injustice across the country.
As this Mother Jones article points out, 2017’s May Day will encompass a broad coalition, involving nationwide marches “related to workers’ rights, police brutality and incarceration, immigrants’ rights, environmental justice, indigenous sovereignty, and LGBT issues.”
The message of solidarity and action remain key, particularly for AFSCME members, as they continue to face attacks both nationally and at the state level. As AFSCME President Lee Saunders stated, President Donald Trump has failed, in his first 100 days, to deliver on the campaign promises he made to working men and women.
Meanwhile, in states like Iowa, collective bargaining rights have been gutted. AFSCME members refuse to be silenced, taking the fight to the courts. In Illinois, Gov. Bruce Rauner has refused to negotiate in good faith with AFSCME members, instead choosing to scapegoat them, forcing AFSCME members to approve a strike vote and prepare to walk off the job if necessary.
The point is clear: whether it’s the struggle for an 8-hour work day, the fight for a higher minimum wage, or ensuring that workers who serve their communities are treated with dignity and respect, May Day remains as crucial in shedding light on injustices today as it has in the past.