the heroic origins of may day

by Mark Harrison

On 1st May we celebrate the achievements of organised labour, but how did this tradition start? These origins take us back to America’s revolutionary socialist history and the struggle for the eight hour day.

At the October 1884 convention of the federation of Organised Trades and Labour Unions, a resolution was passed unanimously which stated, “that eight hours shall constitute a legal day’s labour from and after May 1, 1886” and called for a general strike to meet these ends. There was great support for the cause and the American working class duly answered the call of the OTLU: more than 300,000 workers downed tools across the country. Chicago was the centre of the movement, 40,000 were out on strike and the city stood still. Continue reading “the heroic origins of may day”