May Day in Chicago: SIPAZ tour of the United States

May Day march in Chicago (click on the photo above to see a slide show of the march)

The May Day march held last week is part of a tradition that began in Chicago in 1886. The first organizers of the May Day celebration were immigrant workers from Sweden, Germany, Poland, Ireland and Poland who began a struggle for workers’ rights including an 8 hour work day in place of the 10, 12 or 14 hour days many immigrant workers suffered at the time. Since then May 1 has lost much of its symbolic force in the United States. However, the movement has been revived with a new immigrant labor force in the country, especially among those from Mexico and Central America.

In 2006 and 2007 hundreds of thousands of people marched in the streets of Chicago, the vast majority undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Central America who have lived and worked in the United Status for years or even decades without the ability to obtain legal status. In 2007 an enormous march was held under the slogan “A Day without Us” referring to the disaster that would strike the American economy if undocumented workers were not a part of the work force.

The march this year did not have the same turn out as the previous two years due to rumors and threats directed toward several immigrant collectives. In the days leading up to the march there were reports of waves of deportations of undocumented workers as well. One of the principle demands of the marchers this year was the legalized status of all 12 million undocumented immigrants who live and work in the United Status.

For more information:

Slideshow of the May Day march in Chicago (SIPAZ, 01/05/2008)

May Day in Chicago (Baltimore Indymedia, 02/05/2008)

May 1st Immigrant/Workers Rights US-Wide Actions, A Success (Chicago Indymedia, 05/05/2008)

The Origins of May Day: A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement and the Bombing That Divided Gilded Age America (Democracy Now, 01/05/2006)

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