For all of us in the AFL-CIO—for the millions of women and men who build our houses, teach our kids, fight our fires, and nurse us back to health—this is a special day.

On this May Day, we join our sisters and brothers from Chicago, and Colombia, and Iraq, and all over the world at one of the most sacred sites for working people everywhere—the Chicago Haymarket monument. Because we deeply believe in solidarity with workers everywhere, we’re proud that the AFL-CIO now has a plaque at the place where May Day itself—the international day for workers—was born. That is happening because the Illinois Labor History Society and the Chicago Federation of Labor played a key role in the building of this monument. We will always be grateful to them for what they’ve done.

As long as working people struggle for what is right and fair, they’ll tell the story of Haymarket. We, our children, and their children will never forget the great demonstration for the eight-hour day—the bomb—the terribly biased trial of eight activists—and the execution of four of those activists, who will always be martyrs in our cause.

And we know very well that the best way for each generation to honor the Haymarket Martyrs is to advance the cause they fought and died for. Here and now, that means restoring the freedom of workers to organize into unions by passing the Employee Free Choice Act. It says that when most of the employees where you work sign statements that they want the union, then you get your union. It sounds fair because it is.

The freedom to choose a union is precious to us, but we know that this freedom won’t just fall from the heavens. Today, just as in 1886, the corporations are using every loophole and hiring every lobbyist they can to keep us powerless. They’re fighting the Employee Free Choice Act tooth and nail. They’ll stop at nothing.

So today, as we all remember the Haymarket Martyrs, we know exactly how to honor them. We promise to continue their beautiful struggle. We promise that we will fight with all of our hearts and souls for the freedom to organize into a union and win a better life. The dream of the Martyrs is inscribed on the AFL-CIO plaque: Power—Dignity—

Respect—Union Yes! We promise above all that we’ll march and vote and lobby and speak and struggle to make their dream finally come true.

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