Workers will rally for May Day at Elmwood Park’s Labor Monument

May Day
A shot from last year’s May Day rally. (Credit: Facebook)

Workers, unions and representatives of community coalitions and activist groups will on Wednesday celebrate May Day at what they’re calling “America’s most unique labor monument.”

“The Labor Monument: Philadelphia’s Tribute to the American Worker,” was commissioned by the Association for Public art and in 2010 installed in Elmwood Park, located at 71st Street and Buist Avenue in the Eastwick section of Southwest Philadelphia.

Participants will gather at the monument on 3 p.m. Wednesday to celebrate the sixth annual May Day rally and celebration organized by the May Day USA Education Committee.

“The origins of May Day hold important lessons for all of us, but especially for workers and rights advocates right now who continue to face a seemingly relentless wave of ‘austerity’ programs,” committee chair and event co-host Jim Moran said in a statement.

“Just a few days ago, we witnessed hundreds of textile workers in Bangladesh being crushed by unfettered corporate greed. A key message of our celebration today is that we are better than this – humanity can do better than this.”

Musicians, hip hop artists and poets will stand with labor activists for an itinerary of events including the presentation of the “Aggie Moran Human Rights Award” to Philadelphia Poet Laureate Sonia Sanchez, labor historian Alice Hoffman, advocate Barbara Rahke of worker safety organization the Philadelphia Area Project on Occupational Safety and hospitality workers’ rights nonprofit the Restaurant Opportunities Center.

They’ll be joined by the representatives of the Chicago Teachers Union, the American Postal Workers Union and AFSCME District Councils 47 and 33, all of whom will speak about the ongoing labor struggles being waged in Philadelphia and across the country.

Also recognized will be the 19 activists who were arrested at the last School Reform Commission meeting in Philadelphia, when the SRC voted to close 23 city public schools.

The event will feature food and entertainment, including musical performances from artists like Pittsburgh’s Mike Stout and the Human Union Band, a barbecue, garden planting, children’s face-painting and games.

The rally is all in celebration of a nationwide general strike on May 1, 1886 that resulted in the right to an eight-hour work day.

“Four immigrant workers were hung by the neck until dead in Chicago in the 1880s and other workers died in the great struggle for the eight-hour day,” Moran said.

“Today’s May Day event hopes to remind Philadelphians and all Americans of our place in international labor history and also inspire us to fight all the harder against corporate greed which continues to crush our fellow workers around the world.”


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