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Celebrate International Workers Day, May 1, 2022

Statement by Staff |
April 23, 2022
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Freedom Road Socialist Organization calls on working people across the U.S. to celebrate International Workers Day in marches and programs. 

What are we up against in this crisis-ridden capitalist country? 

The lives of working people have been forever changed by the failure of the capitalist system to protect us from the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of us we were forced to work in unsafe conditions, watching our co-workers, friends and loved ones suffer and die from COVID. Others saw our workplaces downsized or shuttered as the government gave a pittance. Meanwhile investors profited as the stock market gained more than $10 trillion in value. 

The capitalists continue their assault on labor unions, especially in the public sector, as private sector unionization was decimated a generation ago. Only 6% of workers in industry are unionized. Those who still have unions may have crushing workloads, two-tier (or three-tier) wage rates, or mandatory overtime. The billionaires don’t want unions because they are the main defense organization of the working class.

Racist police terror continues. The number of people murdered by the police rose in 2021, even after the historic uprising after the lynching of George Floyd in 2020. 1134 people died, with 27% of them being Black, despite Black people being only 13% of the country. Latino communities also suffer under police occupation.

Women in Texas have already had their right to control their bodies severely curtailed by reactionary politicians. Politicians in other states, like Florida, aim to do the same. And the same reactionary forces are attacking LGBTQ communities as well.

Even before the pandemic, landlords were filing about 3.7 million evictions per year. While eviction moratoriums prevented many evictions, with the moratoriums gone, landlords are playing catch-up to evict more renters than ever.

Almost a million people from Mexico and Central America were turned away by the Biden administration at the border with Mexico in the last year. Biden promised a pathway to legalization for 11 million undocumented in the U.S. But racists like Senator Joe Manchin refused to go along with the plan, and Biden wouldn’t take him on.

As a result, undocumented immigrant workers still face the constant fear of arrests by the police or ICE, leading them to deportation. 

Similarly, Biden promised to defend voting rights and reform of the police. Instead, racists in the Democratic Party joined with the Republicans to block both.

Biden also promised trillions for green jobs, childcare, tuition free college and affordable healthcare. None have been delivered. 

But almost $1 trillion for the Defense Department was passed, with an addition of $35 billion more - and more for the war in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, headlines in the capitalist press this past year told us that the handful of U.S. billionaires are $1.7 trillion richer after two years of COVID.

We fight back

We’ve been driven down, pushed around and sold out!

Workers – whether unionized or not – are fighting back. “Striketober” was named after 10,000 John Deere workers in the Midwest joined nurses and grocery store workers on strike. 2021 also saw a growing number of non-union walkouts. Workers across the U.S. are mad – their lives continue to be in danger working during a pandemic, and they realize they are dying for the profits of the rich. Teachers like in Minneapolis continue the Red Wave that began in wildcat strikes in 2019.

The Black Liberation movement is making strides, as seen especially in Chicago, where a coalition led by the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, with the support of Black-led public sector labor unions, passed a sweeping bill that will give the communities living under police terror the first ability to determine who polices their communities and how they are policed. And a national movement is building across the country, inspired by these advances.

The history of International Workers Day

This is a day of struggle – born out of the great labor movement in the U.S. that fought for an eight-hour day over 100 years ago. It started here, but May Day will be celebrated around the world – by the workers in the Philippines, in Palestine, in Puerto Rico, and in Pretoria, South Africa – who today are fighting for a better world.

We gather on May Day to celebrate our history, our struggle, and to look forward to a better world.

We also gather knowing that our ruling class hates this holiday. In 1886 when the General Strike for the Eight-hour Day swept the industrial cities of the U.S., the capitalists tried to crush the movement in its infancy. They rounded up the leaders of the movement and hung them for daring to fight for a society in which the rich don’t rule.

We owe a debt of gratitude to the immigrant rights movement, which returned the first of May to the U.S. working class. It was through the massive marches to defend the rights of immigrant workers in 2006 that the labor movement again embraced International Workers Day. We will march with immigrant workers this year again on May 1!

Capitalism is a failure

The 2008 economic crisis ended any hope for the majority of the working class around the world to improve our lives through hard work and saving money. The COVID pandemic killed almost a million people in the U.S., and over 6 million around the world. Among the greatest failures were the richest countries – the U.S., UK, Italy and others. They failed to protect workers because our lives are expendable in the service of profit, and because even their healthcare systems are for profit.

The socialist countries – China, Cuba, Vietnam – showed the world what can happen when healthcare isn’t for profit but based on the needs of the workers and farmers. In China, a country with 1.4 billion people, fewer than 10,000 have died.

We need revolution and socialism!

The Black Lives Matter movement always says, “It is our duty to fight for our freedom!” For revolutionary workers, we join in the fight for freedom from racist national oppression, and also commit to fight for freedom from the hardship forced on all working people whose paychecks don’t cover their bills – the majority of the working class who are losing ground as the cost of our rent, gas and food continue to rise even faster. 

May Day is for those of us who see the need to fight, who understand that between our class of working people and the class of billionaires, the only future is one of constant combat; a future in which we battle them for decent jobs at decent wages and benefits.

That fight will go on until working people take power into our own hands. That is called revolution. And the new society where working people are in power is called socialism.

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