Optimism and solidarity were in the air on May Day.
For 112 years, May 1st has been a celebration of laborers and the working classes throughout the world. Known as “International Workers Day,” it is an important day for the movement that gave us the eight-hour workday, the minimum wage, trade unions, Social Security, and worker’s rights.
And on May 1st, 2022, the Green-Rainbow Party played a role in marking this progress and the people who helped achieve it, with a rally in Boston that drew nearly 300 people.
“I was encouraged that it was led by mostly young people,” said GRP Female Co-Chair Lois Gagnon of Belchertown. “I got the sense that they are really ready to take on the issues that are facing the working class, which as a ‘Boomer’ is so welcome. For a long time, people have felt defeated, but we’re seeing a lot of activism and a lot of groups that are not only emerging but coming together in a coalition.”
“There was fantastic energy and diversity, and the weather was perfect,” said GRP co-founder Mike Heichman of Dorchester. “The GRP stands in support of workers’ struggles.”
Sponsored by the Boston May Day Coalition, an alliance of more than a dozen organizations (including the GRP) staged a demonstration that lasted more than four hours. Beginning and ending on the steps of the State House, it included a march through the streets of Boston, stopping at symbolic locations where speakers gave brief speeches. The first speaker of the day was Gloria Caballero Roca, a GRP member from Holyoke and a candidate for State Auditor.
“Working-class people understand that this is a class war,” Gloria said in her address. “Our labor and our money are subsidizing the imperial and rapacious policies that hurt us all. We struggle for rights to unionize and collective bargaining while our tax dollars are transferred to the elite military-industrial complex.”
Gloria pointed out a “corrupt system” where “both Democrats and Republicans are not the solution to our problems,” citing important issues such as affordable housing, city infrastructure, universal childcare, and universal healthcare, underfunded public schools, and quality of air and water.
“We have the right to speak out for our labor, our money, our city, our barrio, our country, and our Mother Earth to be sustained,” Gloria said.
“This May Day was a coalescing of like-minded, radical, progressive, independent forces very different from the Democratic Party,” Heichman said.
Stops along the march included banks, healthcare facilities, a Starbucks, a Registry of Motor Vehicles, Faneuil Hall, Government Center, and Boston City Hall. In addition to international worker’s issues, the event also brought attention to Public Education, Immigrant Rights, Peace and Opposition to the Ukraine War, the Climate Crisis, Healthcare, and Racism.
“The Boston May Day Coalition is an important organization,” Heichman said. “The GRP will continue to play an important role in the future of this group.”
May Day was first celebrated as a “great international demonstration” on May 1st, 1890, commemorating the Haymarket Affair in Chicago, which took place four years before. The Haymarket Affair began as a general strike on May 1st in favor of an eight-hour workday but culminated in a violent melee on May 4th with the deaths of seven police officers and four civilians. The date was selected by the Second International (in Paris) in 1889 and was observed in the United States, most of Europe, Chile, and Peru. In addition to being Socialist and anti-Capitalist, it embodies the class demands of the proletariat and universal peace. Since 1887, the countries of North America officially celebrate Labor Day on the first Monday in September.
The struggle continues. See you May 1st, 2023.