FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Support the Mayday 2014 Fight for Fifteen

by JOHN HALLE

(Note: The proposal here develops ideas advanced by Socialist Alternative’s Alan Akrivos at the Brecht Forum event, Socialism at the Ballot Box. Video here.)

Most on the left are at least dimly aware that Labor Day was originally celebrated on May 1 to commemorate the framing and execution of the Haymarket strikers and that Mayday, at its peak, attracted tens of thousands of marchers in cities across the country.  The combination of the iron fist of state repression and the velvet glove of the New Deal ultimately crushed radical labor movements of which Mayday was an integral part, resulting in only traces of it remaining by the end of the last century.

But its spirit could not be entirely extinguished: the largest mass arrest in U.S. history took place on Mayday anti-war protest of 1971, demonstrators brutally apprehended and held Pinochet style in Washington’s RFK stadium.

In 2006, millions of undocumented workers shut down the streets of several cities demanding changes in that draconian and repressive Sensenbrenner Bill, H.R. 4437.

Most recently, in the waning days of the Occupy movement, Mayday again rose from the dead attracting 30 to 40,000 to New York City’s Union Square capping it with a march to Wall Street where over 30 were arrested.

Unfortunately, following the demise of OWS, only a few hard-core activists celebrated in 2013.

Was 2012 a fluke or did it represent an initial, albeit stumbling, attempt to re-attach the future of working class politics to its illustrious past?

This decision is up to us.  We can choose to make Mayday again the centerpiece of a new anti-capitalist politics and with the widespread hopelessness now turning to rage at the 1%, 2014 is the year to do it.

The way to do it is by using Mayday to put forward a single demand on the owners and operators of the economy: a 15 dollar an hour minimum wage.  The necessary teeth will be provided by our committing ourselves to begin the demonstration at 4 PM, making May 1, 2014 a seven hour work day re-initiating, albeit on a reduced scale, the long standing Mayday tradition of a day without work, or, to put it in political terms, a general strike.

Should 5/1 for 15 not succeed, it should be expanded it to a full day, possibly on election day 2014. A second day could be added on 2015 scaling up to a full week in 2016 with the explicit intention of bringing capital, and capitalism, to its knees, where it belongs.

Just as the eight hour working day was a unifying demand which brought together the strands of a balkanized left leading to the formation of a Socialist Party, so too can the 15 dollar wage provide the foundation for a resurgence of organized, working class political power.

It is no surprise that Kshama Sawant was able to ride the Fight for 15 to victory in November becoming the first elected socialist in a century.  And she has made it her top priority now that she is in office.  She, and other national leaders and all self-described supporters of “working families”, should be in the forefront of planning to insure that Mayday is returned to its rightful place as a celebration of the beginnings of a long awaited American spring.

JOHN HALLE is Director of Studies in Music Theory and Practice at Bard College. He can be reached at: halle@bard.edu.

John Halle blogs at Outrages and Interludes. He tweets at: jghalle.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 24, 2016
John Pilger
Provoking Nuclear War by Media
Jonathan Cook
The Birth of Agro-Resistance in Palestine
Eric Draitser
Ajamu Baraka, “Uncle Tom,” and the Pathology of White Liberal Racism
Jack Rasmus
Greek Debt and the New Financial Imperialism
Robert Fisk
The Sultan’s Hit List Grows, as Turkey Prepares to Enter Syria
Abubakar N. Kasim
What Did the Olympics Really Do for Humanity?
Renee Parsons
Obamacare Supporters Oppose ColoradoCare
Alycee Lane
The Trump Campaign: a White Revolt Against ‘Neoliberal Multiculturalism’
Edward Hunt
Maintaining U.S. Dominance in the Pacific
George Wuerthner
The Big Fish Kill on the Yellowstone
Jesse Jackson
Democrats Shouldn’t Get a Blank Check From Black Voters
Kent Paterson
Saving Southern New Mexico from the Next Big Flood
Arnold August
RIP Jean-Guy Allard: A Model for Progressive Journalists Working in the Capitalist System
August 23, 2016
Diana Johnstone
Hillary and the Glass Ceilings Illusion
Bill Quigley
Race and Class Gap Widening: Katrina Pain Index 2016 by the Numbers
Ted Rall
Trump vs. Clinton: It’s All About the Debates
Eoin Higgins
Will Progressive Democrats Ever Support a Third Party Candidate?
Kenneth J. Saltman
Wall Street’s Latest Public Sector Rip-Off: Five Myths About Pay for Success
Binoy Kampmark
Labouring Hours: Sweden’s Six-Hour Working Day
John Feffer
The Globalization of Trump
Gwendolyn Mink – Felicia Kornbluh
Time to End “Welfare as We Know It”
Medea Benjamin
Congress Must Take Action to Block Weapon Sales to Saudi Arabia
Halyna Mokrushyna
Political Writer, Daughter of Ukrainian Dissident, Detained and Charged in Ukraine
Manuel E. Yepe
Tourism and Religion Go Hand-in-Hand in the Caribbean
ED ADELMAN
Belted by Trump
Thomas Knapp
War: The Islamic State and Western Politicians Against the Rest of Us
Nauman Sadiq
Shifting Alliances: Turkey, Russia and the Kurds
Rivera Sun
Active Peace: Restoring Relationships While Making Change
August 22, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton: The Anti-Woman ‘Feminist’
Robert Hunziker
Arctic Death Rattle
Norman Solomon
Clinton’s Transition Team: a Corporate Presidency Foretold
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Hubris: Only Tell the Rich for $5000 a Minute!
Russell Mokhiber
Save the Patients, Cut Off the Dick!
Steven M. Druker
The Deceptions of the GE Food Venture
Elliot Sperber
Clean, Green, Class War: Bill McKibben’s Shortsighted ‘War on Climate Change’
Binoy Kampmark
Claims of Exoneration: The Case of Slobodan Milošević
Walter Brasch
The Contradictions of Donald Trump
Michael Donnelly
Body Shaming Trump: Statue of Limitations
Weekend Edition
August 19, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Hillary and the War Party
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Prime Time Green
Andrew Levine
Hillary Goes With the Flow
Dave Lindorff
New York Times Shames Itself by Attacking Wikileaks’ Assange
Gary Leupp
Could a Russian-Led Coalition Defeat Hillary’s War Plans?
Conn Hallinan
Dangerous Seas: China and the USA
Joshua Frank
Richard Holbrooke and the Obama Doctrine
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail