Elementary ‐ The Weekend ‐ International Workers Day (C0078)
A: Alright everyone settle down. Let’s get started. As you know, an important aspect of becoming a good citizen is understanding the genesis of our legal system. It is not enough to simply memorize our laws, it is necessary that we comprehend why and how they were formed. This brings me to our topic for today. Does anyone know what we celebrate on May first?
B: Cinco de mayo?
A: No, that’s May fifth in Spanish, James, no wonder you are failing my Spanish class. No, May first is International Workers’ Day.
B: Do we get a day off from school then?
A: No! It is not considered to be a national holiday here in the US, but in other countries it is.
B: Aww, man!
A: In the nineteenth century, working conditions were appalling, with workers being forced to work ten, twelve, and fourteen hours a day. Support for the eight-hour work day movement was growing rapidly, despite the indifference and hostility of many union leaders, and by April 1886, 250,000 workers were involved in the May Day movement. Previous legislative attempts to improve working conditions had failed, so labor organizers took drastic measures. They passed a resolution stating that eight hours would constitute a legal day’s work. And, on May First 1886, the resolution took effect.
B: Cool! Is that why we only work eight hours now?
A: Yes! But the happy ending came at a high price. On May third, 1886, police fired into a crowd of strikers at the McCormick Reaper Works Factory, killing four and wounding many. A mass meeting was called for the next day to protest the brutality.
B: And then what happened?
A: Well, as we say, the rest is history...