Labor Day & May Day

Scott Marshall Scott at rednet.org
Mon Sep 11 05:36:00 MDT 1995


Jerry:
>Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought the issue of Labor Day vs. May Day
>in this country in terms of which holiday is celebrated is related to
>McCarthyism. In particular, wasn't the government's attacks on
>communists and radicals, especially in trade unions (of course, assisted
>by anti-communist trade union "leaders"), a major reason for the push
>against May Day? That is, wasn't it connected to the anti-communist
>hysteria of the 1950's?

Scott:

Jerry is right and I think Truman had a hand in it. In any case I think we
should fight, a my elk does here in Chicago, to reintroduce May Day and it's
origins to the unions and working people. In NYC and around the country we
fight for united May Day celebrations as we always have since the '20's
including at the height of the McCarthy period. I'm trying to find the piece
I wrote for my local union paper in 1980 on May Day and why we should
reestablish it as *the* international workers holiday.

I further think that it is sectarian and wrong to counterpose Labor Day to
May Day *in the US.* I really don't know enough about the Canadian
situation. It reminds me of Lenin's argument with the 'infantile left' in
Germany who didn't see working in the mass but rightwing led mainstream
unions of the day. This Labor Day hundreds of thousands of union activist,
those most likely to be moving to the left in the US, like the AE Staley
workers, the striking caterpillar workers, the Detroit newspaper strikers
etc etc were not only having a parade but were fighting back. The battle
raged in the fight for new leadership in the AFL-CIO. 500,000 workers
marched in NYC. In the face of Proposition 187 type, english only and other
immigrant bashing legislation being introduced in Illinois, the Chicago
Federation of Labor held it's march under the banner of "A Salute to
Immigrant Workers". Important coalition ties were built by this event
between labor and progressive leaders of the Mexican-American community in
Chicago. How could Marxists, especially Communists turn their noses up at
participating and trying to influence this holiday under these conditions.



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