Every part of our lives is getting more difficult and more expensive. Food prices are up more than a quarter since 2018, mortgage rates have exploded, and since the pandemic average rent has gone up by almost 20 percent, or $270 per month.
For all of us who have to work for a living or survive off a fixed income, this is money that we didn’t really have to spare. There’s been a sharp, merciless rise in homelessness, hunger, and desperation among many families and their children. For Christmas this year, the government is trying to provoke a recession and drive millions out of work.
In the face of these hardships, the two parties refuse to side with the workers and irritate their donors. They’ve refused to put a cap on landlords’ ability to raise rents, they’ve given rail companies a free pass to exploit their workers and run unsafe trains, and they won’t tax the record profits of the oil companies. We should all rejoice, though: these hardships helped Connecticut’s 14 billionaires increase their wealth from $59 to $74 billion since 2020! So, what can we do about it? We must unite as the working class, recognize our collective power, and come together on May Day!
May Day, the first of May, is a holiday of, by, and for the working class. In New Haven there is a long and proud tradition of celebrating May Day. This year different labor unions, immigrant rights groups, and socialist organizations are pulling together to carry the torch for another year. Join the rally on the New Haven Green, May 1 from Noon-7 p.m.
May Day began in Chicago in 1886 as workers fought for their right for an eight hour day. It is a global holiday, still maintaining significance across Europe and Latin America as both a day to celebrate the power of the people who make our society run and to fight for our demands as a class.
Clearly, our votes for politicians and our multi-million person marches have failed to win us either universal healthcare or racial justice. The only way to teach those in power a lesson is to hit them in their bottom line and raise this key question: “Do we need them or do they need us?”
In this country in 2006 immigrant workers fought for their dignity on May Day. A racist bill was moving through Congress which would have imposed dehumanizing penalties on immigrant workers and their naturalized families. HR 4437 proposed by Jim Sensenbrenner would have changed the penalty for being in the U.S. illegally from a minor civil violation to a federal felony. On top of that, the bill intended to punish individuals who assisted any of the nation’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. It threatened to impose monetary fines and incarceration, potentially criminalizing everyone from teachers and family members to employers and social service providers.
Immigrant workers fought back with a series of mass mobilizations and strikes, culminating in a national strike of immigrant workers on May Day. Despite increased terror by immigration police, these workers forced Congress to drop the bill. This is an inspiring success which we must learn from if we want to survive this onslaught of attacks by the bosses and those they’ve bought.
If you want a better world for yourself and your children, join us on May 1. You can find out ways to lend your strength to movements and organizations that fight for the working class. Come and carry back lessons to spread in your workplace, your union, your campus, and your community!
Eric Goodman is an Organizer with the New Haven May Day Coalition.