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May Day

Though May 1st has long been a day to celebrate the emergence of spring, it was only after the May 4th, 1886 Haymarket actions that this date became ingrained into the international history of labor. A day of pagan celebration for emergence of life after a long winter was reborn as a time to celebrate labor and to take to the streets in pursuit of furthering the rights of workers.

In December of 1888, two years after the Haymarket Uprising, the American Federation of Labor declared at their convention in St. Louis that May 1, 1890 would mark the beginning of a renewed set of strikes and rallies in favor of the eight-hour workday. At the meeting of the Marxist International Socialist Congress , a resolution was adopted to declare an international May Day. The resolution read: "A great international demonstration shall be organized for a fixed date in such a manner that the workers in all countries and in all cities shall on a specified day simultaneously address to the public authorities a demand to fix the workday at eight hours and to put into effect the other resolutions of the International Congress of Paris. In view of the fact that such a demonstration has already been resolved upon by the American Federation of Labor at its convention of December 1888 in St. Louis for May 1, 1890, that day is accepted as the day for the international demonstration. The workers of the various nations shall organize the demonstration in a manner suited to conditions in their country."

Since the "official" establishment of May Day, the first of May has been a day for protest and rallies. Recent May Days in Los Angeles have focused on immigration policy reform.


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