had a piece about how May Day is losing its significance (yikes!). That led me to decide to just throw a few (small) things out about May Day that you may not have known. Take them for what they're worth.
It's not a Communist or Socialist thing. I'm not a communist or a socialist and I love May Day. It is 'celebrated' (he-he) world wide as a one day worker strike, but it hasn't been popular here in the US for some time now. The strike was intended to earn the eight hour work day for, you know, workers. It was originally the 1889 proposal of an American (Samuel Gompers who lead the AFL*), that started the whole May Day thing off. That's the year he wrote to the socialists in Paris wanting an eight-hour work day and together, they decided that the only way to get one was for the whole world to stop working. They chose May 1, 1890. There has been a one day strike (celebrating workers' rights) each year since.
(Fun Fact: The UFT is an AFL-CIO affiliate).
Red is the chosen color for May Day. But that's not because of Communism or anything. It's because, traditionally, red symbolizes relationships among people (in this case, the perpetual relationship among workers of the, you know, whole entire world).
Now I know what you're thinking. You're thinking 'Na, they wear red because of Communism. It's all about Communists and stuff!'. Nope. Red is the symbol of relationships. That's why it's red on 2-14 and not blue or green or black and that's why I, as a filthy Capitalist, proudly wear the color of red with my union caucus, MORE , because the color (as well as the caucus) is built upon the relationships among workers to win and defend the rights of workers (speaking of which, I never got my shirt guys. I kind of need that).
Many people associate the day with the 1886 Haymarket Affair in Chicago (that incident occurred on May 4th, during an attempt to take an eight-hour work day). Although that's not exactly an accurate association, I'll choose to mention it here because Haymarket is in Chicago and Chicago is where teachers have started to turn things around with regard to the reform movement.
That's right, the only strong, aggressive union representing teachers today is in Chicago; the CTU. (And, not for nothin', but their chosen color? Red. #justsaying).
So if you think that May Day is some type of left-wing, commie or 'pinko' or, I don't know, Social Justice thing, you're actually wrong (oh, so wrong!). Now I understand where you would be confused. May Day features a whole mess of people from all over the world flying red flags (the one with Che at the top of this post is my favorite!). But it's not about that at all.
This is a day about workers' rights. It's a day for the little guy (millions and millions of little guys!). It's a trade unionists' kind of day. It's a day to come together in protection for and on defense of the rights of people -in the workplace.
You know, folks like teachers.
(Update) *You know, the best moments in the labor history came when a leader somehow managed to thread the needle between the larger 'leftist' agenda and the much more pragmatic 'workers rights' agenda. Gompers started May Day to achieve an eight-hour day (clearly a workers' rights issue if ever there was one). But when he wanted it organized, it was the international socialists in Paris (folks who were clearly interested in a better world overall) who he reached out to. Just a thought.