April 30, 2012

International Workers Day

Tomorrow, May 1, is International Workers Day, a non-working public holiday in over 80 countries in the world.

In recent years, at least in the developed world, May Day has mostly been a day to celebrate the value of workers and the many rights the labor movement has earned for workers, as well as a day to remember the many martyrs who died for the cause.

Although the United States celebrates Labor Day in September, the holiday was inspired by the riots that occurred in Chicago in May, 1886. American and immigrant workers demanded an eight hour work day with demonstrations in Haymarket that turned very ugly, in large part due to the aggressive reactions by police.

Since then, May Day throughout the world has seen many organized public events, street demonstrations and even violent riots to demand improved working conditions for workers.

I was fascinated by this very interesting and fair PBS account of what lead to the Haymarket riots (Part 1). And then with what happened in Haymarket on May 3 (Part 2) and the tense and unjust events that followed (Part 3).

What struck me most about this program are the echoes of what we are hearing and seeing today with the Occupy Movement. From what I read in the news, Occupy Wall Street is indeed gearing up for a massive day of protests, rallies and marches in New York and around the world tomorrow to spread its anti-greed message. With police and bankers reportedly joining forces to respond, I fervently hope the events stay lawful and peaceful and we don't once again see tragic history repeating.

This mural in the lobby of a building is my tribute to workers everywhere. By happenstance, I found it in New York City, but I can't remember exactly where.

This is my contribution to Monday Murals.



New York, 2008

PS. There are some humans who should not work at all. That would be young school-aged children. Help me reach my goal of raising US$500 by chipping in $5, $10 or whatever. Together we can sponsor two children to STOP working in the filthy unhealthy coal factory in a Manila slum and START going to school. Details and secure chip in form on top of my rght sidebar.

My heartfelt thanks to those who have encouraged me and contributed.

A gift of education is a gift of hope.
And it's the only key to change their world.

Project PEARLS: Peace, Education, Aspiration, Respect, Love, Smile.
[Featured in National Geographic.]

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
If you want to be happy, practice compassion." 
                                                     - The Dalai Lama 

20 comments:

Andy said...

This is proof that indoor murals last much long than the indoor ones.

I'm an old union man that saw big changes in my job for the better thanks to my union.

Linda said...

What a wonderful piece of work! A fitting tribute, and well done!

Dimple said...

Interesting what I don't know about my own country...

Make that "didn't." Thanks for the info!

H said...

That mural is wonderful; it has such depth.

Over here, we had the Tolpuddle Martyrs who were arrested and sentenced to transportation right at the beginning of the trade union movement. The landowners were determined to stamp out any suggestion of a union for the farm workers and fabricated charges of secrecy. There was such a wave of protest at their sentencing that, after they had spent three years in prison, the government relented and pardoned them.

VioletSky-Sightlines said...

I didn't know much about the Haymarket Riots, beyond the name. Thanks for these links.

Nice segue, btw!

RedPat said...

Wonderful images in this mural!

ewok1993 said...

what a fabulous mural.

this is the pearl project that fellow blogger sidney snoeck is participating in actively right?

EG CameraGirl said...

I didn't know the reason behind Labor Day. Thank you for posting it. I hope nothing dreadful happens tomorrow!

Ms. Becky said...

what a lovely tribute to workers everywhere. the mural is fantastic. thanks for the history lesson too - I wasn't aware of all that. the current governor of my state is facing a recall election in a few weeks - he got into office and stripped public workers of their collective bargaining rights.
I'm loving the tea kettles in previous post also. I haven't been blogging much of late, but it's always a true pleasure when I get a visit from you Francisca. and also when I visit you here. happy happy day to you.

NixBlog said...

Excellent post, Francisca, and very apt for May Day!

Kay L. Davies said...

Like Andy, I owe much to my union, and am grateful.
I never heard of May 1 being workers' day, however. I'm glad to hear of it, Francisca. Thanks.
K

FrankandMary said...

Even though I have been an atheist my whole adult life, May Day is still the day of the crowning of the blessed mother to me. Catholic school dies hard. ~Mary

Laura said...

Thank you for this thoughtful and thought provoking post Francisca...Lets pray for peace, compassion and fairness everywhere, every day!

Oakland Daily Photo said...

Wonderful contemporary mural harkening back to 1930s mural art. I keep seeing crosses in this work. A religious message from the artist or wry commentary? I always associated May Day with militaristic parades in the Soviet era and confess ignorance about the Haymarket riots. So thanks for the history lesson and for participating in Monday Mural.

Susan said...

Love this mural, and the way you've chosen to select it in the images. I will have to come back later and listen to the history. I love history.
Nice to know that May Day is celebrated as a joyful workless day. Wish I had known that. Hope all is well my friend.

Francisca said...

Ewok, I can't get to any Wordpress site, sorry... The answer to your question is yes, Sidney is involved in Project PEARLS. He introduced me to the cause. :-)

Chrissy Brand said...

Great post. A Happy May Day to workers everywhere.

Vicki/Jake said...

Almost a week late , but smiling cause I see you've rescued another little one from a horrid childhood. You're priceless! So are the things you share with us on here. Stay safe my friend...

Pat Tillett said...

Love that mural! Nice photos of it as well. A lot of people don't know this about me, but I spend most of my working years in the labor-relations field. I spent many years on one side of the union/management table or the other. For a short while, I was also a organizer for the Teamsters union MANY years ago. Here's the amazing part of it. A few years ago, while working on my family tree, I discovered that I'm related to one Benjamin Tillett, who was one of the labor movement pioneers in Europe over a hundred years ago. Although I ended my career in the management end of things, I never forgot my roots and loved dealing with the three major unions involved in our industry. Despite what many folks these days say, I still believe that unions are needed today. Sorry, this sounds more like a blog post than a comment....

JM said...

Vertigo! Even if it's a painting. And a great one, actually.