There are two stories to May Day. One is the story of Floralia, Walpurgis Night, Beltane, and all the other celebrations worldwide of the coming of spring and the continued munificence of the Earth. People gathered green boughs, hoisted maypoles, lit bonfires on the hilltops and danced and sang. They did not spend that day at work.
The other story begins in 1886, with the proclamation of the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions that from May 1, 1886 onward, eight hours would constitute a legal day's work. The Chicago police department responded with violence, which was met by violence in turn. But in the years to come, the eight-hour day would become standard, as would the minimum wage, the right to unionize, the right to be free of toxins, unsafe and unsanitary conditions, sexual harassment, discrimination ... all freedoms for which workers fought and died.
So this year, and every year, those of us who work, in all the forms that work takes, we gather together. We make connections and alliances, we teach and we learn. We lay plans. We begin to move.