May Day March Nanaimo 2012

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May Day March 2012

May Day 2012 is coming upon us. Since last year we have seen the development of the Occupy Movement world wide. Many Occupy groups are focusing on actions during May Day.  Let’s all get together and have an even bigger May Day March in Nanaimo and Victoria!

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May Day March 2012

Just like to thank everyone who was involved in restoring the May Day March in both Victoria and Nanaimo this year. Looking forward to building next years march! Anyone interested in maintaining the working class tradition of May Day  start checking this blog about January of 2012.

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May Day March – Nanaimo and Victoria

The Nanaimo May Day March, was organized by CHLY Community Radio and the Van Isle IWW Branch. About 40 people took part in the march and 80 to 90 were at the rally at any one time. Music was provided by among others, a marching band, Sean Phillips and Puzzleroot. FW Larry spoke on the origins and significance of May Day and Gilberto about May Day in El Salvador. Everyone thought it was a great success, considering it was our first march in over 50 years. A big thanks to everyone who took part in organizing the event.

May Day Victoria -For the first time in many years Victorians marched on May Day. About 60 or so marched with over 100 at the rally. Prior to Marching the crowd was addressed by the likes of  Fredrick Douglas,Joseph Ettor, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn,Big Bill Haywood,  Judi Bari and Michael Moore.  Accompanied by drumming and chanting, the May Day March proceeded through the heart of the Victoria tourist district and onto the hall for refreshments, music and to be joined by the May Day For Wild Salmon Walk and Rally.

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Nanaimo May Day March

Sunday May 1. Meet at the Library at Diana Krall Square 12:30 – 1:00 PM, we will then march around downtown, arriving at the China Steps by 2:00 or so. There will be chili and a potluck as well as speakers & music.

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Victoria’s Elders Share Their Tales of May Days Past

Kick Off to May Day March 3rd, 2011

The public is invited to an event where the Elders of the Community will share their remembrances of International Workers’ Day – celebrated around the world as May Day, May 1st.  This kickoff event will take place on March 3rd, 2011 at 7:00 PM at the BCGEU Building at 2994 Douglas Street, Victoria, BC

Since 1886 May 1st has been the true workers’ day around the world, at time when workers and their organizations remember the sacrifices the working class has made to gain what it has and to renew the call for struggle to rebuild the movement.  Less a celebration of the work we must do to survive May Day is more about refocusing our attention upon the true class adversary.  We have gained much in the 125 years since the general strike for an 8-hour day and its roots in Chicago.  But those gains will be taken away by the financiers and parliamentarians if the working class doesn’t step up to the challenge.

Worldwide the tradition is for the workers to march on May Day.  This year a new committee has been formed to plan a march in Victoria which will commence at Bastion Square at 1PM on May 1st.  The committee is building support by a number of planned outreach and public education events.  The first is our kickoff event on March 3rd.   On hand to share stories will be Bill Doherty, Gudrun Doherty, Kevin Neish, Freda Knott, Larry Tickner, Dave Rothkop, Alison Acker and D.J. Alperovitz.  Our moderator for the evening will be Saloumeh Pourmalek.  The audience will have an opportunity to ask questions of our elders and to share their stories as well.  We’re inviting interested individuals to bring their mementos, too; banners, photos, buttons, books, recordings.

This event is open to the public and admission is free of charge.

For further information contact us at: phone:  250-384-6893(Art Farquharson)

Art Farquharson for the Victoria May Day Committee

Supported by the Victoria Labour Council and the Vancouver Island Branch of the IWW.

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May Day United

New York, NY- Worker and community-based organizations around the
country announced today that they will build a national network to
promote a dynamic day of action for quality jobs and workers’ rights on
May 1, 2011, International Workers Day. The network, May Day United,
will work with local groups across the country to power a spirited
response to the extreme attacks taking place against working people and
their labor unions in the public and private sectors and to challenge
the increasing exploitation of immigrant workers and their families.

“Public workers are fighting heroically for the rights of unions in
Wisconsin and other states. Immigrants and students are organizing
against racial profiling and the ban on ethnic studies in Arizona. While
the backs of working families are against the wall, people are out in
the streets and are fighting back,” said David Bacon, the workers’
rights journalist. “The May Day marches this year will give us the
chance to bring these efforts together, and show that we?re all fighting
for the same thing?jobs, equality, and basic rights.”

Inspired by the historic May Day actions of 2006, the massive protests
in Wisconsin, the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, and the original
struggle for the eight-hour work day commemorated by May 1st actions
around the globe, May Day United invites everyday working families
across the country to stand together against increasing corporate and
governmental assaults on the right to join a union and the right to work
free of anti-immigrant discrimination.? Organizations can join the
network at

May Day United will not be directly organizing demonstrations on May 1st
– the network will use organizing, compelling digital and print
materials, as well as legal support to increase participation in
existing May Day demonstrations and assist communities in organizing
their own actions.

The organizations that have come together to build the network expect
that many groups around the country will respond to the call for dynamic
and assertive actions on May 1, 2011 in favor of jobs with dignity and
true equality. The convening organizations, listed below, issued a call
to action today which can be viewed and endorsed at


May Day United is an emerging national network of worker and
community-based organizations promoting dynamic actions on May 1st, 2011
for jobs with dignity and true equality. The network is on the web at, on Facebook at , and on Twitter at .

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A Brief History of May Day


International Workers’ Day, May 1st, is a day of special significance for the labour movement. It’s a day of worldwide solidarity. A time to remember past struggles and to demonstrate our hope for a better future. A day to remember that an injury to one is an injury to all.

May Day is a day of remembrance and celebration for international labour and left-wing movements. It commonly sees organized street demonstrations and marches by working people and their labour unions throughout most of the world. May Day is a national holiday in more than 80 countries and is celebrated unofficially in many others.

International Workers’ Day was originally recognized to commemorate the 1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago and working class struggle.

In 1884, the heart of the American labour movement was in Chicago. The Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions – in response to workers who were being forced to work more than twelve hours a day – passed a resolution stating that eight hours should constitute a day’s work legally from May 1, 1886. The resolution further called for a general strike to achieve this goal.
The government of the day was terrified by the increasing revolutionary nature of the Anarchist and Labour Movements and prepared accordingly.  By May 1st, the movement got momentum.  On May 3, 1886, police fired into a crowd of strikers at the McCormick Reaper Works Factory, killing four and wounding many. Agitators called for a mass meeting the next day in Haymarket Square to protest the brutality. The Chicago Police marched into the square and ordered the meeting to disperse. At this moment a bomb was thrown into the ranks of the police, killing one and wounding about seventy others. The police opened fire on the spectators. The subsequent riot resulted in the deaths of seven policemen and an unknown number of protesters.

Following the bombing a reign of terror swept over Chicago. Meeting halls, union offices, printing shops and private homes were raided “Make the raids first and look up the law afterwards” was the public statement of J. Grinnell, the Illinois States Attorney.
The raids and repression, backed and encouraged by the press, weakened the eight-hour day movement. A major source of worry and fear for the ruling class was removed and both the American Labour and Anarchist movements suffered set backs. The raids had solved part of the problem, now scapegoats had to be found.
Eight men, all anarchists and active union organisers stood trial for murder. No proof was offered by the state that any of the eight had anything to do with the bomb. In fact, three had not even been at the meeting and another was there with his wife and children. A biased judge and jury and a hysterical press ensured that all eight were found guilty. Their only “crimes” were their anarchist ideas, union activity and the threat these held for the ruling class. Grinnell made it clear, “Anarchy is on trial…these men have been selected… because they are leaders”.

In spite of world wide protest, four of the Haymarket Martyrs were hanged. Half a million people lined the funeral cortege and 20,000 crowded into the cemetery. In 1893, the new Governor of Illinois made official what the working class in Chicago and across the world knew all along. He pardoned the Martyrs because of their obvious innocence and because “the trial was not fair”.

In 1889, at the first congress of the Second International meeting in Paris for the centennial of the French Revolution, the American delegation proposed that May 1st be adopted as a workers’ holiday. This was to commemorate working class struggle and the “Martyrdom of the Chicago Eight”. Since then May Day has became a day for international solidarity.

May Day was formally recognized as an annual event at the International’s Second Congress in 1891.

In 1904, the International Socialist Conference called on “all Social Democratic Party organizations and trade union of all countries to demonstrate energetically on May 1st for the legal establishment of the 8-hour day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace.” The congress made it “mandatory upon the proletarian organizations of all countries to stop work on May 1st , wherever it is possible without injury to the workers”.

In many countries, the working classes sought to make May Day an official holiday, and their efforts largely succeeded. May Day has long been a focal point for demonstrations by various labour unions, socialist, communist and anarchist groups.

In the United States and Canada, however, the official holiday for workers is Labour Day in September. This day was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor, who organized the first parade in New York City. After the Haymarket Square riot in May, 1886, US President Grover Cleveland feared that commemorating Labor Day on May 1st could be- come an opportunity to commemorate the Haymarket Martyrs. Thus he moved in 1887 to support the Labor Day that the Knights of Labor supported.

Although May Day celebrations by socialist, anarchist and anti-globalization activists occurred in 1894 the government of Canada declared the first Monday in September as Canada’s official Labour Day.

May Day remains an important day for Unions and community group protest in Canada despite the official Labour Day in September. The province of Quebec holds the Celebration of the International Labour Day (Fête des travailleurs) the celebration, in Montreal, goes back to 1906.

May Day awareness is growing in Canada with workers now taking to the streets in Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, and Ottawa.

It is time for Victoria to March On May Day. Join Us.

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May Day Poster

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Mission Statement

Mission Statement on May Day March 2011.

May Day, International Workers’ Day, has particular meaning to the working class of the world. It is a time for renewal of the struggle for justice, particularly in the workplace. Justice in our world has different meanings but May Day recognizes that the vast majority of the population must take waged work in order to survive. Work, paid and unpaid, is the universal human condition.

May Day recognizes that the power for change is in the hands of the workers. It recognizes that workers themselves, armed with knowledge derived from universal public education, know that the world is in crisis and that only a working class movement can find a new path. The struggle for clean energy, food, drinkable water, safe housing, universal public health care and universal old age security, world peace and an end to racism will only come about when the workers, those who produce all wealth, rise up and find common cause with their fellow workers throughout the world. A healthy, safe and meaningful life for all humanity is possible.

The struggle for justice is ongoing and winnable. On May 1st, 2011 we’ll make that point in a march in the streets of Victoria, BC. Victoria, in unceded Coast Salish territory, is the capital of the Province of British Columbia, one of the wealthiest places on earth. We intend to inspire Canada and the world by reaffirming our solidarity with the working people of our community.

“In our hands is placed a power greater than their hoarded gold.

Greater than the might of armies magnified a thousand fold.”

(Solidarity Forever – Ralph Chaplin 1916)

We ask that you join us in the planning and execution of this event. Contact us at We ask that unionized workers call upon their union locals to endorse this march. We ask that all workers and their families join us on May 1st in Victoria.

“¡No pasarán!”

(“they shall not pass”- a keynote slogan in the 1930’s in struggles in Spain, France and England against fascism)

Hasta la victoria, Siempre!

(“onward to victory, forever”- the closing words in Che Guevara’s letter to Fidel as Che left for Bolivia to spread the revolution)

The Victoria May Day Committee

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