[Detroit-announce] A Call for May Day in Windsor
lwallace at uwindsor.ca
lwallace at uwindsor.ca
Sun Apr 5 13:55:51 PDT 2009
TIME TO TAKE A STAND - A NEW BEGINNING
an OPEN CALL FOR MAY DAY 2009
The current economic crisis is tearing apart our community. Workers are
losing their jobs, their incomes, their savings, their homes. Almost every
individual worker feels the pressure. People are afraid of the future.
Union jobs are no longer secure as plants slow production, services are
cutback and layoffs are the order of the day. Corporate and government
management demand concessions of wages, benefits, even the hard won
pensions of union retirees. Non-union workers bid against each other for
lower and lower wages at longer and longer hours. Young workers are
expected to only hope for part-time, temp work, contract work and to hold
down two or three jobs just to get by.
Students see their tuition fees increasing while services to them are cut
back. They work harder to increase skills they may never use in a future
that holds no assurance for them. Unemployed workers, those on social
assistance are hemmed in with few chances of finding work while
governments cut back payments and resources.
The crisis is global. The system has failed. That system is capitalism,
whether "free enterprise" or "state controlled". And it is not the future
we want.. Solutions will not be found in stop-gap economic incentives to
industry. They will not come from the boss. They will not come from
politicians, no matter how well intentioned. It depends on us alone.
Workers - those who build, teach, plan, use their brain and muscle power
to create all of the wealth around us - have a choice. We can remain
silent and quietly accept this sorry state of affairs or we can rise and
take a stand against it.
On Friday, May 1, 2009, the Windsor Branch of the Industrial Workers of
the World (IWW) is calling upon all workers individually and colelctively
to join us to reawaken the vision for a fundamentally different and
The Windsor IWW Branch is extending a call to plan a May Day rally and
celebration - a mass rally followed by a march through downtown Windsor to
the area of Pelissier St. and University Ave. W. At that end point of the
march we hope to have arranged an outdoor series of activities and indoor
events including speakers, live music, art display, room for groups and
organisations to publicise and discuss their work.
We call upon union workers and their elected representatives in the
private and public sector; non-union workers, part-time workers and
independent workers; women's organisations; unemployed workers,
unemployed worker associations, poverty action groups, community
organisations, workers' rights and advocacy groups; all cultural workers -
artists, musicians, singers, poets, writers, journalists; Canadian born
and immigrant workers; women workers and male workers from every branch of
home and industry because
an injury to one of us is an injury to all of us.
On May 1, we can begin to come together as workers to define our problems
and define the solutions on our own. We can build an alliance for a mass
movement to not only preserve what we have won; we can build a movement to
create a society fit for human beings and not for the profit of a few. On
May 1 we call for a new beginning to reawaken our traditions and our
We ask organisations and individuals to endorse this May Day call and for
your active support. Please contact us.
IWW May Day Organising Committee:
Len Wallace, email: lwallace at mnsi.net
Ron Drouillard, email: drouillardr at gmail.com
and mayday09 at gmail.com
MAY DAY IS OUR HISTORY
No right, benefit or freedom has ever been given to people because of the
benevolence and good wishes of employers, politicians or governments.
Better wages and working conditions, health and safety laws, health care,
pensions, the right to vote, universal suffrage, free speech and freedom
of association were all won as the result of the demands and direct action
taken by workers.
May Day, a day of solidarity of all workers all over the world, is rooted
in Canadian and U.S. working class history and the struggle to shorten
the working day. In Canada laws were once in place making it illegal to
leave one?s employment and until 1872 it was even considered criminal to
organise and join a union. Even then those who dared to join could legally
be fired by their employer. In the 19th century it was not uncommon for
working men, women and young children being forced to work 12, 13, even 14
hours a day, six days a week for starvation wages. The struggle for a
shorter work week was a struggle for survival.
In 1884, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions of the United
States and Canada resolved that May 1st become the day to press forward
the demand for an Eight Hour working day under the slogan ?Eight Hours For
Work; Eight Hours For Rest; Eight Hours For what We Will!?
On May 1, 1886, 80,000 Chicago workers in the city of Chicago downed their
tools in a series of strikes. Two days later in the Haymarket area a much
smaller group of 2,500 workers held a peaceful rally to protest the
brutality and intimidation of emplpyers and police against the movement.
As the meeting dispersed 180 armed police prepared to assault 200
remaining workers. Suddenly, a bomb was thrown (by someone unknown to this
day) killing one officer. Police indiscriminately fired into the crowd and
on fellow officers, clubbing anyone in their way. The event became known
as the Haymarket Affair.
Martial law was declared. Hundreds of trade union activists and political
dissidents were hunted down and jailed. Eight innocent union activists
were charged with conspiracy to murder. In a sham trial full of fabricated
evidence five of them were sentenced to death by hanging. The press loudly
applauded. Their only crimes were holding dissident political views and
trying to organise workers.
In 1889 North American trade unionists travelled to Paris, France to
congress of the Labour and Socialist International. Delegates heard about
the struggle for the 8-hour day and resolved to organize worldwide
demonstrations on May 1st so that in all countries on one appointed day
workers would demand the legal reduction of the working day. In 1891
International added that it must also serve as a demonstration on behalf
of the demands to improve working conditions, and to ensure peace among
May Day is a part of our history, a day for new beginnings and a the day
to show that we workers have more in common with each other than we do
with those who would rule over us.
WHAT IS THE IWW?
The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) was formed in 1905 as a militant
alternative to the conservative craft unions of the day. The IWW believed
in organising all workers regardless of sex, colour, religious belief,
national background, personal political beliefs, employed or unemployed,
skilled or unskilled, into one industrial body. Millions of workers
organised into one powerful union body could not only achieve immediate
goals; it would have the revolutionary potential to establish a new
democracy in which the producers of the world?s wealth could run industry
for the needs and interests of humanity instead of the profits of a few.
Hundreds of thousands of workers in the U.S. and Canada joined the IWW.
The idea spread to other countries. The union was behind some of the most
significant strikes of the past century. The IWW??s success was met with
waves of government repression. Activists, organisers and members were
jailed and deported. Employers waged a brutal, violent war against the
union; its members beaten and murdered by hired thugs and vigilantes. By
the 1950s it seemed that the decimated IWW was a spent force.
The 1970s witnessed an influx of young members committed to its
Branches formed across Canada and the U.S. Workplaces have been organised,
solidarity work continues with other labour organisations, social justice
and community groups. In 2005 hundreds of IWW activists once again
convened in Chicago on the 100th anniversary of its founding to reaffirm
its principles and continue the work of the union. In the past year a
nucleus of young workers has formed an IWW Windsor branch.
ARTISTS ARE WORKERS TOO!
A Special Call to Artists for May Day
At a time of global economic crisis art in all its forms is needed more
than ever. Yet the very system based on the sale of art and the labour of
cultural work limits it more and more in a shrinking "market". The artist
is like any worker forced to survive by selling his or her labour energy
for a wage.
As an independent worker artists are too often unprotected. Most do not
belong to an organised collective, a union. Too many cannot depend on
their creative work alone to survive. They work at other employment, hold
down a number of jobs in order to be able to continue to do the work they
love. Many are dependant upon the existence of government support and
grants with all the strings attached. Those grants themselves are cut back
as the crisis deepens. Art is considered a mere adjunct to "real life"
rather than a necessary, intrinsic part of life. It is considered a costly
luxury or an entertainment that can be easily eliminated.
The cultural/artistic community of this community has made great strides
in bringing people together to keep the arts alive. It shows that
collectively we are stronger than when we are alone. The economic crisis
now confronting our communities is one that is one that will be severe and
long lasting. Solutions cannot be found at an individual level or through
the work of the artistic community alone. They will not be found with the
hope of government aid. What is needed now, more than ever, is a broad
movement of workers to define the solutions. And artists are workers.
Artists have always been in part of and often taken the lead in the path
for social change. They have created the images, symbols; given expression
of desires; provided critique and criticism; expressed new visions and
The Windsor Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) hopes to
make that new beginning and we ask all artists to join us.
We need your input and creativity - your art, banners, props, decorations,
skills, poetry, music, imagination to bring to life a new beginning and a
new vision for a different kind of future than the ones envisioned by
corporate execs, bosses, politicians, governments and their ideologues.
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