Saturday, May 01, 2010

MAY DAY

The present Saturn - Uranus opposition brings to mind the reasons 1 May was once, but is no more, marked in the USA. Once it marked the struggles of the workers to achieve change by opposing those who would retain the status quo. Change v. status quo is classic Uranus opposing Saturn. The powers that be, however saw fit to change 1 May from Labor Day to Loyalty Day.

In the USA, at some point in the 1920s, it was decided that a counterbalance to Labor Day was needed. Paranoid fear of communism was being spread by the ruling elite who could not afford to allow the nation's workers to become too strongly organised. In 1920, 1 May began to be observed as Americanization Day, later to be re-named Loyalty Day. Labor Day was pushed back to September, its origins largely forgotten.

The celebration on 1 May, marked all over the world, except in the USA, sprang from the labor union movement, and reminds us of the struggle by workers for economic and social justice.

It's sad that loyalty to the USA and fighting for workers' rights had to be seen as opposing elements, separate and not part and parcel of the same ideal. I'm on the side of the workers, and I don't believe this makes me disloyal.

A holiday called Labor Day is still maintained in September in the USA, but it appears to be a travesty of what it ought to be, in my opinion. I'm remembering the workers on May 1st!

Some words to mark this special day:

"The labor movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress. Out of its bold struggles, economic and social reform gave birth to unemployment insurance, old-age pensions, government relief for the destitute and, above all, new wage levels that meant not mere survival but a tolerable life. The captains of industry did not lead this transformation; they resisted it until they were overcome. When in the thirties the wave of union organization crested over the nation, it carried to secure shores not only itself but the whole society." Martin Luther King Jr.
—Speech to the state convention of the Illinois AFL-CIO, Oct. 7, 1965


"Although it is true that only about 20 percent of American workers are in unions, that 20 percent sets the standards across the board in salaries, benefits and working conditions. If you are making a decent salary in a non-union company, you owe that to the unions. One thing that corporations do not do is give out money out of the goodness of their hearts." Molly Ivins

"The labor movement means just this: It is the last noble protest of the American people against the power of incorporated wealth." Wendell Phillips:

Joe Hill's song "Workers of the World Unite", written while he was in prison as a result of his activism on behalf of fellow workers.
(First 2 verses):

Workers of the world, awaken!
Break your chains, demand your rights.
All the wealth you make is taken
By exploiting parasites.
Shall you kneel in deep submission
From your cradles to your graves?
Is the height of your ambition
To be good and willing slaves?

Arise, ye prisoners of starvation!
Fight for your own emancipation;
Arise, ye slaves of ev'ry nation, in One Union Grand.
Our little ones for bread are crying;
And millions are from hunger dying;
The end the means is justifying,
'Tis the final stand.

14 comments:

Diane said...

Yes alas and alack, labor unions are not only dwindling but their actual power is vastly diminished. My husband is a union member as was my grandfather who retired with a comfortable living until he passed. My husband's union has done nothing for him in the last year he was unemployed and if you don't work you don't get health insurance which is all about pre-existing conditions so you usually don't qualify for it anyway. My grandfather, a staunch unionist, rolls over in his grave.

The Next President of the United States said...

Interesting post. I wrote a column a couple years ago about the creation of the September Labor Day. I'll try to find it and send it along. Actually, when I was younger, Labor Day in September was celebrated with some gusto. Since that time, though, the Republicans, the owners and a couple young generations that, in general, have no knowledge or concern about the history of their country, have been able to strip the holiday of its significance. The Repubs have been able to frame the debate with decades of an anti-union mantra, the owners have been able to still their workers by giving them benefits that were won my unions, and the younger folks are just historic dullards. Hmmm, am I being too grumpy?
Anyway, I think you may be over-reacting a little to Loyalty Day. As someone eyeballing 60, I can't ever remember that "holiday" being celebrated during my growing years, and it's certainly not a "holiday" these days. I doubt if 70 percent of Americans even know such a "holiday" existed. :-)

Anonymous said...

I'm a 3rd generation union member - my great-grandfather died in a steel mill accident before unions pushed for any kind of safety standards. Remember a few years ago the Latino community & supporters marched on May 1 for workers' rights? Boy, were people fired up about that! Whose power is threatened by a march like that? Certainly not yours or mine. I'm thinking the upcoming cardinal crisis will make clear that our whole system is based on preserving power for the elite- unfortunately, not "by the people, for the people." My grandfathers roll in the grave. But so do Thomas Jefferson and his co-revolutionaries. We can do better.

Anonymous said...

Well, May day, Primo Maggio, is still a holiday in Italy and other European countries, and here lies one of the main differences between the two sides of Atlantic, though last decades made really much to make Europe always nearer to America, with the fantastic results anyone can see...

But the problem is in the never ending para-mantra of neo-liberism of last decades, a doctrine which covered the whole mankind by the clear and fresh waters of enduring hapiness, making mankind arrive at a glimpse of the very heaven... The Land Of The Freedom, as anyone well knows...

Unfortunately there remain many aspects that do nto function and all that has been done in last decades will help the world... **never** to resolve these problems!

Twilight said...

Diane ~~~ Oh yes! I think there'll be a lot of rolling in the graves going on by those old-time union men who tried so hard, sacrificed and struggled to achieve fair treatment.

I have the greatest and most sincere admiration for all of them.

Twilight said...

TNPOTUS ~~ Thanks, that'd be interesting, if you find the article.

Yes, it's very, very sad that things have been allowed to come to this un-pretty pass.

Things are way out of balance here now.

I thought that perhaps Loyalty Day had got lost somewhere along the way, as this was the first I'd heard of it. The main effect was to get rid of May Day though, and the ploy worked well in that respect.

Twilight said...

Anonymous (1) --Hi!

Congratulations, and thanks for keeping the old union flag flying!

I agree with everything you've said, and hope too that upcoming astrological patterns might improve matters, by tipping the scales back into a fairer balance.
At present the corporations and wealthy elite have it all their way.

Twilight said...

Anonymous (2) Hi there!

Yes, neo-liberalism hasn't helped much at all. The gap between liberal and conservative has almost closed. We now have the choice between 'bad' and 'better looking but still bad'.

Things look gloomy, I agree. I think that there will be a turning point though, eventually. We're just not quite there yet. :-)

anyjazz said...

Great idea for a post. It made some people think.

That is the key to change.

R J Adams said...

Successive governments have done much to not only subdue the unions (we all remember Thatcher and Reagan), but to turn ordinary working people against them. Once you give J. Smith or J. Doe enough for his beer and fags, and the match on Saturday, he decides he doesn't need a union anymore; he's somebody, a member of the 'middle class' (whatever that is!), and the boss is suddenly his benefactor.
How easily are the masses tamed.

Twilight said...

anyjazz ~~ Thinking - the key to change?...I guess it's the first step, anyjazz, yes.

But action is the only thing that'll finally bring change, it's the only thing, apart from catasptrophe, that has ever brought change from an entrenched position in this crazy world.

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~~ Oh, isn't it such a sin ! And aren't people so blind!

Union has become a dirty word in some circles, as has socialism - and all through brainwash of the masses by those who might stand to lose.

Something is rotten.....

Wisewebwoman said...

Great post as usual T, and I had no idea this Mayday was just about abolished in the US - I can hear the "Bloody Pinko Festival" dismissive all the way up here ;^)

And weird thing, my 'lost post' to you a few days ago (before the blinding crush of last minute tax season) turned up on someone else's a few days later. Weird? And this is the post:

"I'm less sceptical than most, T, having had a very extraordinary experience myself which I must write about, if I can find the words. My experience was mirrored by a friend of my daughter independently (at the time) of any information on mine.
There are more things, etc.....
I like this WooWoo idea of yours ;^)
XO
WWW"

Outer forces? other elements...woowoo is right.

XO
WWW

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ Thanks, WWW - I've copied the part of your comment (re: woo-woo) to the older post.

Lol! Yes, they'd never miss an opportunity to get in the old "pinko" jibe would they? ;-)