May Day

May 1

Happy May Day, Les.

I long associated the first of May with the old practice of placing flowers on neighbors’ front steps then running away. I don’t think I’ve ever actually done that myself, and now I wonder why, because it sounds great.

May 1st (May Day) is an important day for other reasons too, however: workers’ rights—specifically, the eight-hour workday. While many people are underemployed or work more than eight hours a day, most full-time workers have eight hour workdays with breaks. Thanks in part to workers over 100 years ago, and unions today, I have a job in which I am required to take at least 30 minutes for lunch. In every four hour period, I get a ten minute paid break.

On Industrial Workers of the World‘s website, Eric Chase describes the origins of May Day.

May 1st is a big strike day. And an official holiday celebrated by over sixty countries despite being little known by many US Americans, including myself. Still, there were still several demonstrations around the United States today, including a march by immigrant workers and supporters in Seattle and LA. 460x.jpg

I wish I had gotten this kind of education in college, Les. Or better yet, elementary school. I was active on my campuses in advocating for better policies, especially greater inclusion and support for students of color and queer and trans folks, but I wasn’t aware of the significance of May Day to workers.

Did you ever strike on May Day?

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