The Federation of Organized Trade and Labour Unions in 1884 proclaimed that “eight hours shall constitute a legal day’s labor from and after May 1, 1886.” On May 1, 1886, in the U.S., 300,000 workers walked off their jobs from 13,000 businesses to demand the 8-hour workday. Most of the world’s workers celebrate May 1 as May Day or International Workers Day in remembrance of this. However, the U.S. government chose an arbitrary date in September to celebrate Labor Day in order to distance workers from the holiday’s significance.
The Gainesville Area General Membership Branch of Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) is working with many other local labor, progressive and radical groups to bring Gainesville a fantastic May Day Celebration. So far that list of groups includes the North Central Florida AFL-CIO, Gainesville International Socialist Organization, Gainesville Food Not Bombs, Alachua County Labor Party and Occupy Gainesville. As of the time of this article, we are still in the process of reaching out to many other local groups and hopefully your group has been contacted by now. If not, you can contact the the Gainesville May Day Planning Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by our weekly planning meetings, every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in the Sun Center behind Maudes. For more information, please go to gainesvillemayday.tumblr.com .
As a precursor to May Day, the Gainesville IWW will sponsor a Workers’ Memorial Day event at the CMC at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 28. Workers’ Memorial Day takes place each year on April 28 and is an international day of remembrance and action for workers killed, disabled or injured through work. The event at CMC will include a reading of the names of workers killed on the job in Florida in the last year, followed by a showing of the film “An Injury to One.” The film chronicles the mysterious death of Frank Little, an early IWW organizer who was killed in Butte, Montana for his organizing of the miners of the Anaconda Mining Company and his opposition to World War I. There will also be a short agit prop skit to pump folks up for May Day.
This year’s May Day is Tuesday, May 1. The festivities will begin with at 4:30 p.m. with a rally at the corner of West University Ave and 13th Street. We will then begin a march at 5:00 p.m., led by the Radical Cheerleaders, to the Bo Diddley Community Plaza. Festivities at the Plaza will officially kick off at 6 p.m. and last to 9 p.m. The program will include speakers from various unions, immigrant rights groups, and other local progressive and radical groups. Interspersed with the speakerswill be musical performances from some of Gainesville’s favorite musicians and groups. Gainesville Food Not Bombs will be sharing free vegetarian food and folks will have the option to buy food from local vendors as well. Various local groups and unions will be tabling to provide information about their groups and upcoming campaigns and activities. The event will be family friendly and there will be a kids’ corner with planned activities including piñatas, labor coloring books, face painting and much more. Please come on out and help us reclaim an international holiday that started here in the U.S.!