By Freedom Road Socialist Organization
May Day is International Workers’ Day, a day to uphold workers’ struggle around the world. Workers will take to the streets in most of the major cities of the world, holding high their union banners and red flags. Workers will march and protest, listen to rousing speeches and appreciate the past sacrifice of labor militants. Freedom Road Socialist Organization encourages comrades, fellow activists and friends to get out and march, host forums on workers and socialism and show your solidarity with those fighting to end exploitation and oppression!
Labor leaders and activists in every country know the story of the heroic Haymarket Martyrs of Chicago who in 1886 led strikes and militant protests against big industrial bosses and bankers. Some of the labor leaders were American-born, while others were immigrants from Germany and other countries, just like Chicago today. All of them were united in understanding the working class is the basis of social change, a revolutionary class, the class of the future with the right to rule society.
Against the workers, trying to stop the unions and repress the workers’ demand for the eight-hour day, were the big capitalists. The bankers and industrial capitalists broke all the legal rules and hung four of the Haymarket labor leaders. It only outraged industrial workers more and they went on to win the eight-hour day through an international campaign.
Immigrant Rights and Legalization for All!
Today in the U.S., we can thank the immigrant rights movement for the rebirth of May Day. On May 1, 2006 over 2 million working people and their allies poured into the streets of America’s big cities. The immigrant rights mega-marches shut down the repressive, anti-immigrant Sensenbrenner bill that criminalized undocumented immigrants and other working people who show solidarity with them. 120 years after Haymarket, another attack from big business and right-wing politicians was beat back by the power of the people.
The vast majority of the mega-marches were made up of Chicanos, Mexicanos and Central Americans. By far most undocumented are Mexicano and Central Americans, and so it is no coincidence that their communities rally on May 1. We see the struggle for immigrant rights as part of the struggle for equality by Chicanos, Mexicanos and Central Americans, as well as other oppressed nationalities (African Americans, Asian Americans, Arab Americans and others) who have a history of discrimination and exploitation in the U.S. Immigrant rights is also part of the struggle for self-determination for the Chicano nation in the Southwest.
On May 1 this year, many will march through the streets and hold rallies in cities both big and small demanding immigrant rights. With the failure of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, we think it is important to raise the slogan, “Legalization for All!”
Legalization means immigrant workers have rights and full equality on the job and in society. We want more than CIR proposals that mainly benefit corporations. We want immigrants to be able to form or join unions and improve their pay and lives. It will certainly give Wall Street a heart attack, because Wall Street likes the ‘broken immigration system.’ Wall Street promotes it and benefits from it with huge profits on unpaid or underpaid labor. We say no to Wall Street, and yes to worker-to-worker solidarity!
Another important demand for May Day is “Stop Deportations Now!” President Obama can stop deportations with the stroke of his pen. On May 1, President Obama can sign a presidential order saying he will extend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to all 11 million undocumented immigrants. What are you waiting for Obama?
We also say, put an end to ICE raids, stop the border militarization and halt expanding the guest worker programs. We also want states to allow drivers licenses and we support the national SDS Tuition Equity campaign for undocumented students so they can pay in-state tuition like other students. These are all good reforms, but Legalization For All will take care of much of this.
On International Workers’ Day we are reminded of the bold Teamsters of Local 804 in New York City who walked off the job Feb. 26 in solidarity with their union steward and fellow worker threatened with dismissal by corrupt management. UPS threated to fire all 250 union drivers for practicing ‘an injury to one is an injury to all,’ but union solidarity won the day. Other sharp struggles are likely to break out as unions are under attack and workers begin to act under pressure. With austerity measures by federal, state and local governments, public sector unions and workers either wage struggle or lose out.
The same is true for low-income and other working people, especially the unemployed, as the government cuts back social welfare spending. Angry voices are demanding Congress pass Extended Unemployment Compensation (EUC). People cannot find good jobs to replace the ones they lost during the 2009 economic crisis and they are desperate. The Republicans are blocking EUC and it is obvious that millions need good jobs or income now.
The reality is the U.S. government has never worked for the people. The U.S. government serves the rich and it always has. That is the lesson of Haymarket. There were no ‘golden years’ when government served the people. We cannot ‘take back our democracy’ because the government always served the rich. Occupy Wall Street got it right! The government works for Wall Street and no bankers are going to jail unless we make a revolution that seizes state power and puts them there.
As a matter of fact, the U.S. government and society is growing more repressive and this will likely increase. Last year witnessed a number of court cases where the killers of young African-American men got away with cold-blooded murder. There was no justice for Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Jordan Davis and Marissa Alexander in Jacksonville, or Corey Stingley outside Milwaukee - and the list goes on. The movements against police murder and brutality and to reform the prison injustice system are gaining momentum, led by African-Americans. The FRSO says the U.S. is a penitentiary for oppressed nations, African-Americans in the Black Belt South and Chicanos in the Southwest, as well as others.
Similarly, we expect an increase in political repression as movements grow and become more determined to make social change and bring justice. The Anti-war 23 continue to be ‘investigated’ with no official word saying it is over. The connected case of Rasmea Odeh, Palestinian and Arab woman leader in Chicago is heading towards a court date on June 10 in Detroit. We are asking people to hold “Solidarity with Rasmea Odeh” events on May 15, the day of Al-Nakba - when armed Zionists drove Palestinians from their homes. Arabs and Muslims are under serious attack and we all need to rally in their support for democratic rights and against unfair imprisonment.
On May 1, 2014, the Freedom Road Socialist Organization wants to send our solidarity to workers and oppressed people here at home and around the world. We are with you in struggle, from the belly of the beast. Our forces are small, but our spirit is great. We know that as we march in Chicago and other cities, police using violence and tear gas will repress workers in Turkey and Colombia. As the FRSO hosts celebrations and forums on socialism in U.S. cities, we are inspired by socialist countries like Cuba, where over a million people will gather in Havana to celebrate international solidarity with the workers and oppressed peoples of the world. We are with you and you are with us!
We march with you for a future where the many are no longer exploited or oppressed by a handful of rich billionaires and multi-millionaires.