May 1, 2011, Istanbul, Turkey–200,000 people march. Milwaukee, Wisconsin–100,000. These were among the largest events in the world on May Day, International Workers Day–or simply Labor Day for most of the world, El Dia del Trabajo.
Born in the U.S. in 1886 in the struggle for the 8-hour day, May Day was associated with anarchists, socialists, and communists, so the U.S. government undermined it with the establishment of a new and innocuous “Labor Day” holiday in September. Kept barely alive by a few leftists, May Day was brought back to the U.S. in a big way by immigrants in 2006 and became a big day for the expression of immigrant issues and the demand for immigrant rights. As U.S. workers tried to reclaim our holiday,
consciousness grew about the need for solidarity with workers all over the world, and more U.S. workers joined with immigrants in the celebration of this holiday. The biggest expression of this unity in 2011 was in Wisconsin.
Some of the issues around the world: More jobs, union rights, better working conditions, higher wages to counter higher prices for food and fuel; migrant worker rights; an end to the growing income gap between rich and poor; democratic political rights and an end to autocratic governments; an end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.