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CAAA: May Day in the Golden State

  • State: California
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May 1, also known as May Day, is globally recognized as International Workers' Day.  Observed in more than 100 nations, it honors the achievements and challenges faced by workers.

Originating in the United States, though not officially acknowledged as a holiday, May Day commemorates the historic events of May 1, 1886. On that day, 60,000 workers in Chicago staged a mass protest advocating for the eight-hour workday. The aftermath, known as the Haymarket affair, saw the state execution of eight labor organizers.

The eight-hour workday was finally law with the passage of the Federal Labor Standards Act in the New Deal. But it took another 78 years and California’s uniquely progressive politics to extend that eight-hour standard to farmworkers.

A little more than a week ago, that victory was threatened by an ag employer-proposed bill to retreat from that standard for farmworkers. Their effort failed. But the seduction that any victory is forever is a trap. 

If the eight-hour workday can be attacked in 2024, so will other worker protections such as compensation for cumulative trauma injuries caused by disabling, repetitive work. History is not about the past. It is paradoxically about the future.

May Day is a day to be emboldened and inspired, to highlight problems in the workplace and to build alliances. It is also a day to spend time with family, friends, fellow workers and trade unions.

Workers across California are organizing events to commemorate May Day. Gatherings are scheduled in several cities.

  • Inland Empire: 10 a.m., 17080 Arrow Blvd., Fontana (Inland Empire Labor Council).
  • Sacramento: 10 a.m., State Capitol, 10th and L streets.
  • San Francisco: 2 p.m., 415 Mission St., rally and march to Union Square (Francisco Labor Council, Unite Here 2, SEIU 87).
  • Los Angeles: 2 p.m. rally, 3 p.m. march, 6100 W Sunset Blvd., Hollywood (L.A. May Day Coalition).
  • San Jose: 4 p.m., Roosevelt Park, 901 E. Santa Clara St. (South Bay Labor Council).
  • San Diego: 4 p.m., San Diego Bayfront Park at Gull Street and Park Boulevard (San Diego Labor Council).

This opinion by the California Applicants' Attorneys Association communications team is republished with permission from the CAAA website.

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