International Worker’s Day has come home. Out of the depths of the raging class war against public workers, their unions and all working people, has arisen a call by the labor movement from Wisconsin to Connecticut to rally on May Day.
The resurgence in our country of May Day, International Workers Day, sparked by the mega marches for immigrant rights five years ago, reflects a growing understanding of the power and necessity of worker solidarity.
In Connecticut, a full day of marches, rallies and activities will be capped off with the annual People’s World Newsmaker Awards in New Haven, honoring state workers, their unions and the services they provide.
At 1 p.m. on May 1 in Hartford’s Bushnell Park, thousands of workers are expected to gather for a massive labor rally. State elected officials and members of Congress are scheduled to be on hand.
“May Day will be workers’ day at the Connecticut state capitol when 26 building trades councils and state-wide unions gather under the banner Enough is Enough! say rally organizers.
Charles LeConche, business manager of Connecticut Laborers’ District Council which initiated the rally, emphasizes, “We intend to send a very strong message to the public, media and industry leaders that workers’ rights need to be preserved. However, the way trends are going now, we are seeing the decline of these rights and the disintegration of the American family.”
May Day has been side lined by red-baiting and anti-Communism in our country since the anti-labor political repression of the 1950’s. But in the 1930’s, at the time New Deal legislation was being fought for and won, giant May Day marches brought working women and men together across trade, profession, race, nationality and age lines. The songs, banners and unity raised sights and gave strength for the battles ahead.
Immigrants from Latin America who had celebrated May Day in their home countries knew that the workers’ holiday was born in the USA, initiated worldwide to show solidarity with workers attacked and in Haymarket Square in Chicago 125 years ago, and later executed, while demanding an eight hour work day.
The significance of labor’s embrace of May Day as an occasion to rally for workers’ rights and immigrant rights is accentuated by the union-led We Are One rallies held on April 4, the date Martin Luther King was assassinated while in Memphis to support striking sanitation workers.
This joining together of the labor movement with the civil rights, immigrant rights and international worker movements is essential to stop the destruction of every gain ever won in the past century.
“We Are One – Workers Rights Are Human Rights,” is the theme of the People’s World event on Sunday, May 1 at 4 p.m. at 37 Howe Street, New Haven, where newsmaker awards will be presented to the coalition of state worker unions, SEBAC, for leadership on behalf of the needs of Connecticut’s working people; and to Communications Workers CWA Local 1298 for standing up to AT&T in negotiations, and building worker solidarity. A solidarity recognition will be presented to 1199 health care workers at Spectrum, now on strike for one year.
A panel discussion will address the assault on workers and on democracy, and project how the labor movement and community can turn the tide and move forward.
Videos of rallies in Wisconsin and Connecticut for workers rights will be shown. Performances will be offered by Puerto Rican singer Fernando Ferrer, rap group The UNION, and poet Sabir Abdussabur. A home made buffet will be served. Suggested donation is $5 or what you can afford. Contributions will be accepted for the 2011 People’s World fund drive.
Photo: Part of youth contingent in 3,000-strong “We are one” rally in New Haven, CT, March 30, 2011 Art Perlo/PW