May Day, labor’s 132-year tradition

          It started in Chicago in 1886, with working men and women demanding an eight-hour work day.

May Day: labor’s 132-year international tradition

On May 1, 1886, working people in Chicago — folks of various trades, ideologies and national origins, not all of whom spoke English — gathered peacefully to demand an eight-hour work day. The rally was attacked by police. Three days later anarchists gathered to protest the police brutality, and as the police moved in to break up that protest someone set off a bomb that killed several of the officers. Men identified as anarchist leaders, none of them ever shown to have anything to do with the bomb, were charged with murder and several were hanged, the rest sent away to prison.

The movement was suppressed in the USA, although organized labor did come back and win the eight-hour day many years later. Meanwhile the tradition caught on across the rest of the world, and now May 1 is celebrated as Labor Day in most of the world, including in Panama.


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