May Day 2009 celebrates labour’s historical wins and modern day social movements

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On May 1, working people around B.C. will participate in May Day events to celebrate the labour movement’s ongoing and historical achievements.

The Vancouver and District Labour Council is hosting a dinner and evening celebration at the Maritime Labour Centre. Check with your local Labour Council to see what’s happening in your community.

May Day’s designation as an international day for workers’ rights started in the United States, where the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions declared May 1, 1886, as the date on which the eight-hour work day would become standard.

On that day, it’s estimated that more than 300,000 workers in 13,000 businesses across the U.S. walked off their jobs in the first May Day celebration in history.

Today, May Day is still used as a symbol for political mobilization. In 2002, a million demonstrated against far-right French candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen. And more recently, May Day 2006 was designated as the “day without immigrants,” in which more than one million rallied and marched through cities across the U.S. in support of immigrant workers’ rights.