EDITORIAL: May Day, now more than ever

Ever since 1890, May Day has celebrated the unity and fighting spirit of working people around the world. This year more than in many decades, workers in the U.S. will be in the streets May Day, inspired by the rising struggle for immigrant rights. Workers of all national backgrounds, born in the U.S. as well as immigrants from other lands, will call for Congress to enact legislation providing a path to citizenship for 12 million undocumented immigrants while also ensuring their labor rights and civil rights.

In addition, workers across the nation will demand passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, single-payer health care for all, an increased minimum wage and other measures on behalf of America’s working families.

This upsurge could not come at a more crucial moment. Corporate America, with the backing of the Bush administration and the Republican-majority House and Senate, is waging war on the jobs, wages, health care and retirement security of working people. Driven by runaway gasoline and home heating fuel prices, workers have seen their real take-home pay plummeting. Corporations have jettisoned pension plans and health benefits covering millions of workers.

Workers are fighting back. But they need maximum unity of the labor movement and its allies in this life-and-death struggle. Witness what can be won when we march together as one: Already those who back the punitive Sensenbrenner bill that criminalizes 12 million immigrants are on the defensive. This vicious legislation can and must be killed!

And look what student-youth-worker unity achieved in France: their president had to withdraw an anti-labor law that gave employers the right to fire young workers without cause.

This is a big election year for American workers. Ending Republican control of the House and Senate, electing legislators sympathetic to the vital needs of the people, rests on the unbreakable unity of the labor movement and all progressive forces. Our get-out-the-vote effort must not be dampened by divisions and rivalries. So much is at stake! We must start now to build that “all people’s unity” to defeat the ultra-right Republicans Nov. 7.