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International Workers’ Day Celebrated

by staff |
May 3, 2004
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Two women addressing crowd.
Speakers from Freedom Road Socialist Organzation welcome the crowd to the Mayday event. (Fight Back! News)
Michelle Sommers, Vice-President of ATU Local 1005, speaking at the Mayday event
Michelle Sommers, Vice-President of ATU Local 1005, speaking at the Mayday event in Minneapolis.

Minneapolis, MN - More than 100 people gathered here May 1, May Day, for a celebration of International Workers’ Day. Speakers from key Minneapolis and St. Paul battles, including organizers of the clerical workers’ strike at the University of Minnesota and the 46-day transit workers’ strike, addressed the standing room-only crowd. The event was organized by Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

Sarah Lange, Kelly Ryan and Brad Sigal of AFSMCE Local 3800 talked of the successful clerical workers’ strike and the broad support it received from other workers and the community. Michelle Sommers, Vice-President of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005, spoke of another powerful strike waged by bus drivers, mechanics and others to resist attacks on their health care benefits. These two strikes by public employees were the most important fights waged by the Minnesota labor movement over the past year.

Other speakers included Rose Brewer of the Black Radical Congress, who talked of the struggle against racist police repression; leaders of the Anti-War Committee who have stood at the forefront of building the movement against U.S. intervention in Iraq over the past year; leaders of the Welfare Rights Committee who led mass mobilizations at the state capitol to undo the welfare cuts and tax the rich and Rubin Joanem of the Haiti Justice Committee.

Jared Cruz of Freedom Road Socialist Organization spoke about the history of May Day and its significance: “May 1, International Workers’ Day, is a holiday that was born in the United States - born of the struggle of the American worker for the eight-hour day. On May 1, 1886 hundreds of thousands of workers across the United States demonstrated and struck for the eight-hour day. In Chicago, the police fired into a crowd of workers demonstrating for the eight-hour day in what became known as the Haymarket Massacre.”

Cruz continued, “A call put out by the American labor movement for May 1 to be adopted as International Workers’ Day was endorsed in 1889 by the Socialist International, representing socialist workers from countries around the world. May Day was taken up by the working class around the world. Today millions of workers are demonstrating, from Cuba, to Spain to France. All across the world, trade unionists and socialists are celebrating our struggles.”

“At a more fundamental level, we know that there is no such thing as a fair contract under capitalism. That is because capitalism is a system that is designed to exploit a class of people - workers - and transfer the wealth we produce to another class of people, the rich or the capitalists. Socialism is a necessity for workers not only in this country but around the world.”