The Real May Day

Tuesday, May 02, 2006
I made the mistake of turning on TV news yesterday during the May Day demonstrations and there was some talking head going on about the Soviets and Mao and the commie hispanics.

Well, the truth is:

International Worker's Day

International Workers' Day (a name used interchangeably with May Day) is the commemoration of the Haymarket Riot of 1886 in Chicago, and a celebration of the social and economic achievements of the international labor movement. The 1 May date is used because in 1884 the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions, inspired by labor's 1872 success in Canada, demanded an eight-hour workday in the United States to come in effect as of May 1, 1886. This resulted in a general strike and the riot in Chicago of 1886, but eventually also in the official sanction of the eight-hour workday. The May Day Riots of 1894 and May Day Riots of 1919 occurred subsequently. In 1889, the first congress of the Second International called for international demonstrations on the 1890 anniversary of the Chicago riot. These were so successful that May Day was formally recognized as an annual event at the International's second congress in 1891.


I had a distant relative that died in the Riots when he made the mistake of seeing what all the fuss was about. A stray bullet killed him. He was an immigrant.

It is interesting to look at the history of certain holidays and see where they began. It seems that most holidays begin with birth or death.

6 comments:

Goesh said...

Workers in Iran has quite a workers day demonstration too - it seems many are not being paid and they are not at all pleased with the mullahs and their administration. Too bad our media for the most part ignored this....

MeaninglessHotAir said...

Goesh,

For our media, the only real country is the US and the only real enemies are the Rethuglicans.

terrye said...

mha:

This is true.

Pastorius said...

Things aren't merely what they begin as. They are what they become as well. In fact, probably even more so.

terrye said...

pastorius:

This is true. But if people doing the news are going to make an issue of speaking about the significance of May Day then they should give an accurate account of what it is and where it came from...rather than just talking about the Soviets and Mao.

I wonder how many Americans know it took riots to get a 8 hour work day? Or regular pay checks on regular days? Or fire escapes in businesses? We take all of this for granted today.

Once upon a time Pa Ingalls of Little House on the Prairie was a member of the Grange. They began as populists, or Christian Socialists. Today these organizations that survived the agrarian movement are thought to be conservative, but in their time they were quite daring.

Pastorius said...

Terrye,

You said: "I wonder how many Americans know it took riots to get a 8 hour work day? Or regular pay checks on regular days? Or fire escapes in businesses? We take all of this for granted today."

Good point. And, I wonder how many Americans know that businesses hired thugs to come and thump picketers over the head with baseball bats in the thirties, and that law enforcement stood by and watched and did nothing about it.

Up until very recently, I was a strong supporter of Unions. I still am in principle. However, I believe the pendulum has swung too far in their direction.