Written by Rae Scoles, Grocery Coordinator
A little past...
Throughout history, the working class has been serially taken advantage of, treated unfairly, and forced to work in brutal conditions. Out of the Renaissance came a burgeoning capitalism which brought with it industrialization, the factory, and more injustices for laborers. Forced to work long hours in poor conditions, factory workers began to demand their rights, including that of an eight hour work day. In Chicago, this struggle came to a head in May of 1886 at the Haymarket Riot. What started as a peaceful rally to attain the 8 hour work day ended in police killing several activists. The next day, when the police tried to disperse their gathering again, someone threw a homemade explosive at them, killing seven officers and four civilians. While nothing could be definitively proved against any of them, eight anarchists were convicted of conspiracy in the bombing. Sentenced to death, they gave their lives for the eight hour work day which we still enjoy. May Day, also known as International Worker’s Day, is celebrated throughout the world on May 1.
A little present…
Capitalism still commodifies laborers--factories are built in countries without laws to protect workers, sweat shops employ children, companies structure hours in such a way as to avoid giving employees benefits, laborers are paid a minimum wage which hasn’t risen in years while CEOs are making untaxed millions. It’s not that we haven’t come a long way in the struggle for human rights for the working class, it’s just that there is so far we still have to go. The cooperative model is working to close that gap by seeking to treat employees fairly, pay well, give workers benefits, do business with others who practice fair trade, and by valuing workers as human beings who are much more than a number on a spreadsheet. No system is perfect, but by consciously working to be less exploitative, the cooperative model is standing on the side of laborers. This month, Mariposa will be celebrating World Fair Trade Day to recognize the efforts of the fair trade movement which are turning the tide against exploitative labor practices.
~With hope and solidarity~
Events in the Area
- May Day USA Education Committee of Philadelphia, Fight for 15, and 15 Now are hosting a march from the McDonald's at 40th and Chestnut to Clark park starting at 1pm
- May Day USA Education Committee of Philadelphia hosts the Stand Up Fight Back May Day Rally in Clark Park at 2pm. Keynote speaker - Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, theologian, activist and author Chris Hedges! Other May Day speakers include Dr. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor from Princeton University’s African American Studies Department whose latest book is From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation (2016); City Councilwoman and education activist Helen Gym; Philadelphia Poet Laureate (2013-2015) Frank Sherlock; and Henry Nicholas, the President of District 1199C, National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees. Go to https://www.facebook.com/maydayphiladelphia/?fref=photo for more details.