Lesson: Labor and Women´s History


  1. What is May Day and when and where did it begin to be celebrated? What inspired it?
  2. When did the struggle for an 8 hour day begin and when did it become the norm?
  3. When is International Women's Day and what sparked that commemoration?
  4. When did women get the vote in the US? In England? Other countries?


May 1, millions of workers on every continent celebrate with a May Day March. May Day is an international working class holiday. For more than a hundred years, Corporate America and its media have separated U.S. workers from our brothers and sisters around the world by denying May Day's American roots.

May Day commemorates the 1886 Haymarket Massacre when police opened fire on workers who fought for the eight hour workday and protested murderous police brutality at a McCormick Harvester picket line. Police then attacked a rally held at Haymarket Square in Chicago. Several workers were killed as well as some police. Charges were brought against labor leaders who organized the rally and four of them were hung.

In 1890 organized labor called for workers to lay down their tools on May Day to commemorate the martyrs of the Chicago Haymarket and demonstrate international working class solidarity in the struggle for the eight hour day and for the common interests of workers everywhere. It became an annual event.

In the 1930s, American workers marched on May Day to fight the rise of fascism and to stop lynching. In the late 1980s, millions of workers in South Africa marched on May Day to help bring down the apartheid regime. In Mexico, in the 1970s, all work stopped, even newspapers shut down for May Day.

The struggle continues right here today as the South Bay Labor Council ( San Jose) and various local unions, in coalition with a diverse cross section of community and political groups are united in demanding: Just and Humane Immigration Reform! No More Raids, Racial Profiling, and Discrimination! Stop Criminalizing Our Communities! Jobs, Housing, and Healthcare for ALL! Respect the Civil, Labor and Human Rights of ALL People! Make May Day a Holiday!

We've got plenty to march about. With 14 million people out of work, and 9 million working only part time, we need jobs. In 2010, over 400,000 people were jailed in new private prisons and deported. Millions of workers on Main Street are facing crisis foreclosures and evictions caused by systemic greed on Wall Street. Tens of thousands die each year without healthcare, victims of a chaotic system based on insurance companies and private profit. We must end the wars, get out of Iraq and Afghanistan and stay out of Syria and Iran. The treasure of our nation is being poured into a militarized foreign policy that enriches the 1% and kills and maims workers, our own, and wherever our Military Industrial Complex touches ground with tools of war and destruction.

This is not the American Dream.


our developing world
odw@magiclink.net or ourdevelopingworld@gmail.com