This post written by Caroline Wooten, Organizing Director of the Illinois Sierra Club.
May 1st is a time when we usually gather to celebrate the transformative and dramatic changes that organized workers have won throughout the decades: from ending child labor, to winning a 40 hour work week, to winning safety protections through the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and more. We know these and other reforms need to be constantly defended from corporate attacks. We also know we have even further strides to make when it comes to building a safe, inclusive, equitable, and democratic society.
In recent months, we have witnessed the great risks that frontline workers are taking to bring us through this crisis, the negligence of those in power to protect workers with safety equipment, safety practices, and hazard pay, and the great risks that workers are taking to demand the very minimum to support them in the risks they’re taking.
This year, Sierra Club Illinois is proud to be part of the Chicago Earth Day to May Day Coalition. This is a coalition of environmental groups, unions and workers centers, immigrant rights groups, and more, seeking to draw the connection between protecting people and protecting the planet, and to demand changes to ensure a livable future for all.
In many ways, May Day and Earth Day have a lot in common. Both were first organized in response to horrifying events: May Day in response to the Haymarket Massacre which occurred right here in Chicago; Earth Day in response to a series of environmental disasters including the Santa Barbara Oil Spill of 1969. Both brought about monumental change that has transformed our society and your and my life for the better. In the case of May Day, the eight hour work day. For Earth Day, the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, and landmark environmental laws including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act. Both are international holidays, united in the reality that people and the planet need protecting everywhere, and that our path to a just and livable future is through organized people coming together to stand up to those who seek to exploit labor, lives, and our planet for their own profit.
Last week we joined Earth Day Celebrations including digital town halls, a caravan for environmental justice, radio shows, livestreams and more. This year, we’re glad to celebrate May Day by joining a number of events touching on different urgent issues. May Day is about building a safe world for workers, and recognizing that immigrant rights and prison abolition is an inherent part of that. The horrors of the Haymarket Affair after all included police shootings, the scapegoating of immigrant workers and activists, unjust trials, and capital punishment.
We know the Earth Day events, and these May Day events we’ll be joining look far different than what we originally hoped and expected, but now is as important a time as ever to take action and work together to take our power back.
If you plan to join us for any of these actions, let us know by RSVPing!
Take action today:
ICIRR May Day Action
Join ICIRR, SEIU Local 1, Chicago Federation of Labor and others to discuss the impact of COVID19 on Immigrants and Workers | #WeAreEssential #EverybodyIN
Learn from our partners in labor about how the pandemic has affected them and their members
Explore how the fights for immigrant rights, worker rights and health care rights are all linked together
Learn about critical resources available to our communities
Take action to ensure we include #EverbodyIN our relief efforts
Streaming on ICIRR’s Facebook Page – event link here
May Day: Fire Drill Fridays
Panel Discussion hosted by AFGE 704 (EPA Workers) to discuss how we can get out of this pandemic (the transition back into the work place) and address the climate crisis by using the transition to clean energy. The talk will be at NOON central for one hour with 3-4 panelists. Live Streamed at https://www.facebook.com/AFGELocal704/live/ at noon
The People’s Bailout Virtual Rally
Amazon workers are striking for safer working conditions. Renters and homeowners are calling on landlords and banks to demand rent and mortgage cancellation. Families are demanding utility corporations put an end to water shutoffs. Small business owners are fighting big banks for access to relief funds to pay their employees. Community members are calling for the release of people trapped in unsafe jails and detention centers. Nurses and grocery workers are calling for better safety protections and pay. More than ever, it is clear: Our fights are connected. We need a People’s Bailout that includes us all.
May Day: Virtual Labor History Tour
May Day will be a call to action for many to fight for the labor rights we all deserve, more now than ever as COVID-19 impacts our workplaces
The Chicago Federation of Labor and the Illinois Labor History Society are hosting a virtual tour of important historical sites around Chicago and Illinois on Facebook Live. Check out the facebook event for more information.
May Day Funeral Procession for Decarceration
Please honor the lives we lost by wearing black and dressing your car in black for this caravan-style funeral procession and live broadcast of speakers. The caravan will circle Statesville Prison. Line up on Division at the intersection with Route 7, pointing east towards Route 53. Instructions to dial-in to the program broadcast will be posted at https://tinyurl/MayDayCaravan the day before the event.
Songs of Solidarity
If you missed it the first time we will be rebroadcasting our Songs of Solidarity virtual concert on May Day! You can watch the show via facebook live at the Warehouse Workers For Justice, Mystery Street Recording Company and Sunrise Movement Chicago facebook pages! If you like our work donate here: http://www.ww4j.org/donate.html
With: Sam & Spencer Tweedy, Mykele Deville, Sima Cunningham (OHMME), Sunny War, Sterling Hayes, Kahiem Rivera, Lyn Rye See Less
May Day – Rent Strike
Corporate landlords and banks still think their profits are worth more than our lives, even in the midst of a pandemic. Without OUR money, they are without power over OUR homes. That’s why, on May 1, we will use our power to withhold our rent and mortgage payments unless the five largest corporate landlords — FirstKey Homes, Cerberus Capital Management, Equity Residential, Lincoln Property Company, and Greystar — meet our following, basic demands:
- Forgive unpaid rents and waive mortgage interest and defer mortgage payments for the months of April, May and June.
- Cease evictions of any renters and foreclosures on any homeowners during the full duration of the crisis — for at least six months.
- Use your political power to call on public officials to support housing relief for the tens of millions of American workers who have lost their jobs.
Join us, take the #RentStrike Pledge: https://bit.ly/3clSo4E Facebook event link here.