May Day, or International Workers Day, is celebrated as a national holiday in many EU countries, although its historic roots are actually in the US labor movement. Yes, it was a creation of the far left — those rascally globally-minded US socialists, anarchists, and unionists, like Industrial Workers of the World, who were pretty much wiped out by 1920, because of interference by various police and military agencies, collaborating with wealthy capitalist employers.
Historically, left-wing parties and organizations routinely have been cut off from resources, and are *rarely* allowed – or able – to get their act together. Think radical Bernie vs bourgeois Hillary, which is a fairly standard historical model. In “Carla Rising,” for example, I wanted to portray this left-wing divide in the characters of Todd Bryant, on one side, and the more militant Gibbs Bryant, on the other. Carla and her more middle-class mother, Mary, represent people who are necessarily on the left but who are also caught in the middle, to some degree.
While pro-union EU countries and others celebrate International Workers Day as a national holiday, the United States does not. However, this very fine workers holiday COULD be 100% MADE IN USA, where it began in 1886.
On May 1 that year, Chicago unionists, reformers, socialists, and everyday workers ALL COMBINED to make the city the center of the NATIONAL movement for an eight-hour workday. (With only a telegraph key to text their comrades elsewhere about it!)
Between April 25 and May 4, 1886, the Chicago movement took on the look and feel of a revolution. Workers attended scores of meetings (educating themselves) and paraded through the city’s streets at least 19 times.
On Saturday, May 1, 35,000 workers walked off their jobs. Tens of thousands more, both skilled and unskilled, joined them on May 3 and 4. Crowds traveled from workplace to workplace urging fellow workers to go on strike.
Many people adopted the then-radical (but ultimately successful) demand for an eight-hour work day for ten hours’ pay. Police clashed with strikers at least a dozen times, three of them with deadly shootings…. This is part of US Labor History, which too many Americans do not know, a big reason I wrote “Carla Rising,” to include characters who encounter (or cause) labor strike violence from different angles…. (source: chicagohistory.org/)