Taking Back May Day: What to Expect on the Nationwide Day of Rallies, Strikes and Actions by Sarah Jaffe
Organizers and activists have planned direct actions and mass rallies,
marches and blockades, as well as mutual aid and concerts to include as
many people as possible.
The stickers, posters and graffiti have been popping up for months on
subway walls, street signs, pay phones, and abandoned buildings, all
with the same message: "May 1: Strike!"
Some are gorgeously designed or illustrated works of art. Some list
the activities in which one shouldn't participate: no housework, banking
or work. Others rattle off the types of workers who should
strike—freelance and union workers, students and teachers. But they all
have the same date: May 1st. Long celebrated as International Workers'
Day, long forgotten in the United States and replaced with the defanged
Labor Day, May Day is once again shaping up to be a national day of
action for the “99 percent,” thanks to the Occupy movement.
The last time May 1 brought coordinated action across the country was
in 2006, when immigrant workers took to the streets to remind the
country what it would be like without them in the famous “Day Without an
Immigrant.” May 1, 2012 has been called a general strike, but also, in
direct reference to and solidarity with the immigrant rights actions of
2006, “A Day Without the 99%.” Organizers and activists, aware that
actually pulling off a nationwide general strike will take years, not
months, of work, have planned direct actions and mass rallies, marches
and blockades, as well as mutual aid, concerts, and other events to
include as wide a swath of the population as possible, providing workers
who can't strike with other ways to take part.
“I hope this brings in a new history to May Day; instead of being one
struggle or another struggle each year, to really just be a movement
struggle,” Nelini Stamp, an organizer with the Working Families Party
and Occupy Wall Street, told AlterNet. “May Day has grit to it that I
think is really beautiful and really inspiring and has that direct
action piece ingrained with it.”