Public Comment

May Day and Labor Day- A Major Difference

Harry Brill
Friday April 28, 2017 - 04:00:00 PM

Some of you might be confused about the difference between May Day and Labor Day. Actually the difference is substantial.

The May Day holiday is broader than Labor Day. Beginning in the late 19th century, socialists referred to May 1 as International Workers Day. It was on May 4, 1886 when police killed workers who were demonstrating in Haymarket Square, Chicago for an eight hour day. But May 1 commemorates the struggles and contributions of not only American workers, but all working people around the world. It is no surprise that the conception of May Day was international in scope because it reflected the perspective of socialist and communist leaders, who tend to take a broad perspective. Because of the severe resistance and repression they confronted, May Day has historically promoted an anti-establishment perspective. 

Labor Day is a federal holiday that honors the contribution of American workers and the American Labor Movement. It was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor. It is celebrated annually on the first Monday in September. This holiday tends to be festive rather than adversarial. The Alameda Labor Council, for example, sponsors a huge annual picnic. For a small admission charge, all are invited. 

This May 1 there will be a rally and march for immigrant rights. A coalition of immigrants, workers, students, labor unions, and faith and community groups will join together. A rally will be held at 3pm at Fruitvale Plaza (near BART). The march will begin at 4:00pm.