May Day, an International Affair

by Amanda Huber, MSW Candidate

May Day, on May 1st of each year, marks the international day of protest for workers rights which has its roots from Chicago, 1884. The dialogue advocating for workers rights has changed over the past 100+ years. In North America, May-day has shifted its focus from being solely about work conditions to advocating for job creation, the expansion of benefits programs, and immigration reform. May Day has since generalized to the world at large including protests and rallies in places like: Greece, Spain, Turkey,Korea, Baghdad, Moscow, and Indonesia among others.

Historically, Labor organizers like the AFL-CIO were considered radicals for advocating and fighting for an 8 hour work day. The first organizers were feared and criticized for their belief systems and idealism. Now, the standard workday is 8 hours, and the majority of Americans receive benefits from the direct actions of those organizers and advocates.

The global world has taken May-day as a way to organize particularly on the global economy. Here is an excerpt from People’s World:

Photo Credit: Peoples World
Photo Credit: Peoples World

May 1 dawned first in Asia this morning with hundreds of thousands of protesting workers literally shutting down the Indonesian capital of Jakarta. They condemned the government for hiking fuel prices and eroding recent meager increases in the minimum wage.In Manilla, the capital of the Philippines, meanwhile, thousands of exploited contract workers marched through the streets demanding the right to unionize.

In Istanbul, Turkey, police locked down the center of the city to keep out thousands of May Day protesters. The history of police violence against workers did nothing to deter the demonstrators, still mindful of the 1977 protests when police shot dozens of Istanbul workers to death during May Day demonstrations. “There are scuffles everywhere in the streets leading up to central Istanbul,” said Hashim Jahelbarra, in his post on the Al Jazeera website.  Read Full Article

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Amanda Huber

Amanda Huber is the Immigration and Social Policy Staff Writer for Social Work Helper. She is a bilingual social worker in clinical practice and a community organizer for Latino rights which includes issues of migratory status, institutional racism, racial profiling, and the ways these issues affect the people. View all posts by Amanda Huber

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