Thursday, May 01, 2014

It's May Day, but not in the U.S.A.

There’s a good article in today’s issue of Salon about why the United States doesn’t celebrate May Day, unlike much of the rest of the world. I’m 61 years old and I never knew until I read this piece that this is actually known as Loyalty Day in America. Whoopee. We do have Labor Day, but as the author points out, it’s a pretty benign holiday in this country better known for store sales than honoring working men and women.

A point that is implicit in the article if not stated outright is that the oligarchy in America truly fears the untapped power of the people. From the union bashing days of the 30s and 40s to erasing May Day to the slow strangulation of unions over the past 30 years, our capitalist overlords have done everything in their power to dilute and diffuse collective action on the part of workers.

Not surprisingly, the decline of union strength in America has coincided with the rise of income inequality. Without the power of unions and collective bargaining, we have no leverage against the greed of the C suite. And this is one more ugly strain of the Reagan legacy, as it was the Gipper who really got the ball rolling when he broke the air-traffic controllers strike in 1981 by firing striking workers.

So happy May Day, laborers of the world. Sorry we can’t join the party, but we gotta work.

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