[Ed note: Olympia’s own cherished Food Co-op has returned to its practice of being open every day of the year —except for one single, significant day: it is closed on May 1, International Workers’ Day. The Co-op has posted on its website this explanation of why.]
International Workers’ Day, May 1, has a long history in this country and others, originating with the United States labor movement in the late 19th Century. On May 1, 1886, unions across the United States went on strike, demanding that the standard workday be shortened to eight hours. This was an important step in workers right to organize and to seek fair treatment from employers. While that particular day had a bloody ending and successes were slow, we look back on May 1st as a day that changed things for workers here and around the world.
Our purpose, which includes to “support efforts to increase democratic process” and to “support efforts to foster a socially and economically egalitarian society,” drives our decisions on how to be a cooperative progressive business every day. We believe our position as a collective with an egalitarian labor structure, makes it appropriate to choose International Workers’ Day as a day off in solidarity with others.
Our collective would like to acknowledge that other workers have to go on STRIKE to take this day of observance off, while we here at the Olympia Food Co-op have privilege to discuss the issues and come to a unified decision together, ultimately deciding to close in solidarity with the movement.
In recent years, May Day celebrations and rallies have focused on the struggles of oppressed communities and immigrant rights. This year is bound to be no exception, as many unions and groups allied with supporting immigrants and low wage workers are planning a day of action.
As this day is celebrated in numerous countries, with a variety of history and current events, much information can be found online.
Here are some places to look for more information:
Industrial Workers of the World—
A Union for All Workers/The Brief Origins of May Day
These organizations have websites that may be of interest to you…
- Food Chain Workers Alliance
- Grassroots Global Justice Alliance
- Beyond the Movement: Uniting Movements
- Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity
- Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
- National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights