Why Working People Need To Show Their Power On May Day 2012
Wage cuts, long work hours, steep consumer price rises, unemployment, small or no pensions, little or no paid vacation time, plenty of poor and inadequate housing, homelessness, and wide-spread sicknesses as a result of a poor medical system or no health insurance. I will stop there although I could go on and on. Sounds familiar though, sounds like your situation or that of someone you know, right?
Words, or words like them, are taken daily from today’s global headlines. But these were also similar to the conditions our forebears faced in America back in the 1880s when this same vicious ruling class was called, and rightly so, “the robber barons,” and threatened, as one of their kind, Jay Gould, stated in a fit of candor, “to hire one half of the working class to kill the other half,” so that they could maintain their luxury in peace. That too has not changed.
What did change then is that our forebears fought back, fought back long and hard, starting with the fight connected with the heroic Haymarket Martyrs in 1886 for the eight-hour day symbolized each year by a May Day celebration of working class power. We need to reassert that claim. This May Day let us revive that tradition as we individually act around our separate grievances and strike, strike like the furies, collectively against the robber barons of the 21st century.
No question over the past several years (really decades but now it is just more public and right in our face) American working people have taken it on the chin, taken it on the chin in every possible way. Start off with massive job losses, heavy job losses in the service and manufacturing sectors (and jobs that are not coming back except as “race to the bottom” low wage, two-tier jobs dividing younger workers from older workers like at General Electric or the auto plants). Move on to paying for the seemingly never-ending bail–out of banks, other financial institutions and corporations “too big to fail,” home foreclosures and those “under water,” effective tax increases (since the rich refuse to pay, in some cases literally paying nothing, we pay). And finish up with mountains of consumer debt for everything from modern necessities to just daily get-bys, and college student loan debt as a life-time deadweight around the neck of the kids there is little to glow about in the harsh light of the “American Dream.”
Add to that the double (and triple) troubles facing immigrants, racial and ethnic minorities, and many women and the grievances voiced long ago in the Declaration of Independence seem like just so much whining. In short, it is not secret that working people have faced, are facing and, apparently, will continue to face an erosion of their material well-being for the foreseeable future something not seen by most people since the 1930s Great Depression, the time of our grandparents (or, for some of us, great-grandparents).
That is this condition will continue unless we take some lessons from those same 1930s and struggle, struggle like hell, against the ruling class that seems to have all the card decks stacked against us. Struggle like they did in places like Minneapolis, San Francisco, Toledo, Flint, and Detroit. Those labor-centered struggles demonstrated the social power of working people to hit the “economic royalists” (the name coined for the ruling class of that day by their front-man Franklin Delano Roosevelt, FDR) to shut the bosses down where it hurts- in their pocketbooks and property.
The bosses will let us rant all day, will gladly take (and throw away) all our petitions, will let us use their “free-speech” parks (up to a point as we have found out via the Occupy movement), and curse them to eternity as long as we don’t touch their production, “perks,” and profits. Moreover an inspired fight like the actions proposed for this May Day 2012 can help new generations of working people, organized, unorganized, unemployed, homeless, houseless, and just plain desperate, help themselves to get out from under. All Out On May Day 2012.
I have listed some of the problems we face now to some of our demand that should be raised every day, not just May Day. See if you agree and if you do take to the streets on May Day with us. We demand: