UE members marked International Workers’ Day in their communities and workplaces on May 1, joining marches, rallies and forums and wearing union t-shirts in the shop in Chicago, Los Angeles, Madison, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Vermont. Two UE members were also interviewed for an In These Times magazine article, “Why May Day Continues to Capture the Hearts and Imaginations of Workers.”
The tradition of May 1 as the international holiday of the working class began in the United States, but for many decades was lost to the U.S. working class. Beginning in 2006, with mass marches and work stoppages by immigrant workers, working people in this country have begun to reclaim their day.
UE’s three national officers – President John Hovis, Secretary-Treasurer Bruce Klipple and Director of Organization Bob Kingsley – have sent solidarity greetings to Bob McEllrath, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union as ILWU members prepare to shut down all of the West Coast ports on May Day to protest Bush’s war policies.
UE members in Chicago, Milwaukee and Los Angeles participated in mass marches on May 1, International Workers’ Day, focused on the fight for the rights of immigrant workers in the U.S.
Over 50 UE members were among the more than 150,000 marchers in Chicago, birthplace of May Day as a world labor holiday. UE’s contingent included members of Locals 1101, 1110 and former Local 1104.
Most Americans who came of age during the Cold War grew up believing that May Day was some sort of communist holiday, invented by the Russians. Every year on May 1, television news would show us official parades through Red Square in Moscow, the leaders of the USSR standing in review atop Lenin’s Tomb as soldiers marched in formation and tanks and missiles rolled past. Few Americans were aware that May 1 each year was the occasion for general strikes and mass parades by labor union members in other foreign capitals such as Paris, Rome, and Mexico City.