May Day Is the Workers' Day!
by the National Executive Committee, FRSO/OSCL
May 1, 1886. May Day, the international working class holiday, was born in an eruption of struggle as desperate, determined working men and women in the United States, many of them immigrants, struck and rallied, demanding the 8-hour workday.
May 1, 2006. The United States is once again being shaken to its core by the power of working people. A sudden, massive upsurge based among immigrant workers has set the stage for a day of protest that reclaims the spirit of that original May Day. Over the last two months as many as five million immigrants, some undocumented, some with papers and some citizens, have taken to the streets.
In 1886, workers were demanding to be treated as human beings rather than machines, and rejecting being forced to work 12, 14, 16 hours a day, seven days a week: "8 hours for work, 8 hours for rest, 8 hours for what we will!"
In 2006, immigrant workers are demanding to be treated like human beings, instead of being defined as felons, denied basic human rights, kept from their loved ones, subjected to grinding exploitation and treated with racist contempt by employers, government and media alike: "Ningun Ser Humano Es Ilegal."
Today's upsurge has a dual character. Immigrants are oppressed as immigrants, as people of color in a white-supremacist society. This upsurge is based in oppressed-nationality communities. Many of the upsurge's early leaders have been businesspeople, media figures, community organizers and religious leaders from the Mexicana/o community and other immigrant groups.
But the vast armies of people who have taken to the streets, who have dared firing and deportation to demand justice, are workers and the school-age daughters and sons of workers. Their demands, simple calls for justice and equality, challenge this system to its racist core. As this new movement forges unity with the Black Liberation Struggle, which has shaped US history for 400 years, powerful new blows can be dealt to our common enemy.
Driven here by the rape of the economies in their home countries at the hands of the World Bank and giant multinational corporations, immigrants now find themselves fighting for survival in the very belly of the beast. And it is here that they have taken a giant step into the unknown, throwing forward overnight a powerful new front in the long global battle against the rule of the US imperialist ruling class and their almighty yanqui dollar.
May Day, 2006. Workers across the planet today are celebrating the eclipse of pro-US lackey governments across Latin America, the advance of the people of Nepal against their feudal monarchy on the way to a people's republic, the general strike that defeated anti-labor laws in France, the growing resistance to all-out government assault on unions and other popular movements in the Philippines, the train wreck that the criminal US occupation of Iraq has become, and scores of other victories, large and small. Today we share those triumphs with our working class sisters and brothers around the world, and we can be proud that today they draw heart and strength from what immigrant workers are doing right here, right now.
National Executive Committee,
Freedom Road Socialist Organization /
Organización Socialista del Camino para la Libertad