May 1st is International Workers’ Day, a national holiday in more than 80 countries that celebrates workers and workers’ rights, and the significant role that unions play in advocating for and protecting the rights of workers.
May Day actions across the United States this year will also place a special emphasis on immigrant rights and the need for commonsense immigration reform.
The National AFL-CIO has a list of May Day events, and you can see photos from many of today’s festivities on their web blog.
This year, the struggle for global workers’ rights takes on an added sense of gravity and urgency in the wake of last week’s tragedy at a garment factory in Bangladesh. The death toll from the building collapse there is now over 420, with more than 1,000 still listed as missing.
The Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights put out a very timely statement today, about stalled legislation in the US Congress called the Decent Working Conditions And Fair Compensation Act, signed onto by 22 senators and 175 members of Congress in 2007. The legislation would prohibit the import of any products which failed to adhere to International Labor Organization’s core labor standards which include:
- No child labor,
- The right to freedom of association,
- The right to organize and to form an independent union,
- The right to bargain collectively,
- No forced labor, and
- Decent and safe working conditions.
This is a grim reminder that as far as we have come, there is still so much work to do.