Pa. Green Party celebrates May Day as true labor holiday
(Distributed by the Green Party of the United States, http://www.gp.org)
Attention: News Editor
For Immediate Release
May 1, 2013
Jay Sweeney, 570-587-3603, firstname.lastname@example.org
Carl Romanelli, 570-239-3914, email@example.com
Emily Cook, 609-947-5715, firstname.lastname@example.org
GREEN PARTY OF PENNSYLVANIA
Green Party Recognizes May Day as True Labor Holiday
Greens celebrate May Day in events around the state
The Green Party of Pennsylvania today recognizes May Day as the United States' original labor holiday and calls on others to do so as well. Also known as International Workers' Day, May 1st is an official holiday in over 80 countries worldwide, but not in the United States, even though it commemorates events that took place here in America.
"Most Americans know very little about the origins of the May Day holiday," said Montgomery County Green Party member Emily Cook. "People think it's a pagan celebration welcoming spring instead of a date of political protest."
May Day commemorates the "Haymarket Massacre," which occurred in Chicago 127 years ago. It started on May 3, 1886 with a demonstration favoring an eight-hour work day at a McCormick reaper plant on Chicago's Southwest side. After a bomb was thrown from an unknown source, and ensuing police gunfire, four of the demonstrators were killed and seven policemen lay dead.
"People often forget that union members not only had to fight for many of the things we take for granted, like an eight-hour work day," said Green Party of Philadelphia member Hillary Kane, "but in many cases they had to die for these benefits as well. The road to fair labor standards was paved with violence, and May Day is a memorial to those who lost their lives in the struggle."
Similar to today's news, the press of the day distorted what really happened that night and altered the public's opinion of labor for decades to come. Instead of celebrating the May holiday as International Worker's Day along with the rest of the world, the US labor leaders chose to emphasize a September date for Labor Day because of fears of public associations of communism with Haymarket.
Here in Pennsylvania, despite its notable history of activism around mining, May Day was changed to "Americanism Day" in 1939 in an attempt to counter trade union organizing across the state. In 1958 President Eisenhower replaced May Day with the peculiarly named "Law Day" or often called "Loyalty Day" — a holiday which few acknowledge if they are even aware of it.
In order to raise awareness about this important date, Green Party members and leaders plan to participate in events around the state including:
Sixth Annual May Day Rally & Family Celebration at Elmwood Park, South 71st & Buist, Philly 19142, 3-6 PM
May Day Commemoration, Workers Memorial - Bethlehem Rose Garden, 2-8 PM
Philadelphian Jim Moran, Chair of the May Day USA Education Committee, expressed his concern about the lack of awareness of these important events. Moran said, "All of our young folks can quote you the names and stats of all the Phillies, Eagles, Sixers and Flyers, but they've never heard of August Spies, Albert Parsons, Samuel Fischer and George Engle. They all were hung by the neck until dead, basically for organizing the Haymarket Rally. The Governor of Illinois later pardoned all of them. We weren't taught this in our history books but the rest of the world knows and honors this part of American History. On May Day we join them." Moran was also recently named to the "Green Shadow Cabinet" as the Administrator for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The Cabinet is a project of Jill Stein, the Green Party's 2012 nominee for President.
The Green Party of Pennsylvania believes that the paranoia of the Federal and local governments are out of step with US citizen's beliefs and that May Day should be named a national holiday; celebrating our valuable history of organizing — and celebrating worker's rights which are vital to our democratic way of life.
The Green Party is an independent political party founded on the four pillars of nonviolence, grassroots democracy, ecology and social justice.
For more information:
Green Shadow Cabinet: http://greenshadowcabinet.us/