CUPE recognizes International Workers’ Day today, May 1, in solidarity with millions of workers around the world. In commemoration of the struggle for an eight-hour work day, we recognize the historic struggles of workers who have gone before us and their hard-fought gains we benefit from today.
In 1884, a law was passed in the US declaring that as of May 1, 1886, an eight-hour workday would be the full and legal workday for all US workers. The owners and employers refused to recognize this law and on May 1 workers across the country took to the streets in a general strike. Hundreds of thousands participated.
In what would later be called the Haymarket riots, police opened fire on striking workers in Chicago killing several workers and wounding untold numbers. Workers across the nation mobilized against the government and its police brutality. From that day forward, workers around the world began to recognize May 1 as a day for workers to voice their just demands.
This May 1 we celebrate the resistance of workers who continue to fight to realize genuine labour rights and economic justice. Workers are demanding the right to jobs and land; to accessible and affordable healthcare, child care, and education; to employment benefits and a pension; to safe working conditions; and a living wage.
CUPE unites today with sister unions and partners in Colombia, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Cuba, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Iran, and elsewhere as neo-liberal forces around the world are determined to eliminate the right of workers to bargain collectively and deny them their right to social and economic security.
As workers, we assert our right to resist and to access a strong public sector, decent work and democracy in our workplaces and in our communities. The struggle for workers is the struggle for women’s rights, migrant rights, minority rights, the environment, a fair economy, and social and economic justice, and it knows no borders.
Long Live International Solidarity!