To All Workers, Let's Commemorate May Day Together


This year will be the 120th anniversary of May Day, the day of struggling workers. May Day began as a day to remember the struggle of American workers for an 8-hour workday, which spread across the country like wildfire in 1886. That year, hundreds of thousands of workers went on strike and participated in protests around May 1. The mass movement led to victories and inspired other struggles. Even though the American labor movement began later than the European labor movement, American workers began to win an 8-hour workday first due to their intense unity and militancy.

Of course, the government and capital struck back. They wanted to destroy the swiftly growing labor movement. The repression was worst in Chicago. Striking workers were murdered, and protests were completely outlawed. Many of the leaders of the labor movement were arrested. Of 7 labor leaders who were arrested 4 were executed. But the workers' strength could not be broken. One of the leaders who received the death penalty, August Spies, left a last testimony quoted below:


". . . [I]f you think that by hanging us you can stamp out the labor movement...if this is your opinion, then hang us! Here you will tread upon a spark, but there and there, behind you and in front of you, and everywhere, flames will blaze up. It is a subterranean fire. You cannot put it out."


The struggle of American workers, which was like a 'subterranean fire', deeply moved the workers of Europe. The Second International decided to hold an international protest to commemorate the heroic American workers' struggle and expand the 8-hour workday movement on May 1 from 1890 on.

On May 1, 1890 there was a giant strike and protest. The following year protests and strikes spread across all of Europe with millions of workers participating in May Day. After that, May Day became established as a day for unity and struggle among workers across the globe.

Migrant workers have also participated in protests on May Day. During the Chicago protests of 1886 that were the origins of May Day, roughly 80 thousand migrant workers marched through the center of the city demanding an 8-hour workday. In addition, in 2006 immigrants held mass protests against the US governments‘ proposed immigration reform, which was detrimental to their rights.

Today, when trans-national corporations are expanding all over the world and tens of millions of workers are crossing national borders international workers' solidarity is needed more than ever. The road to international solidarity starts with solidarity between native workers‘ and migrant workers domestically. In South Korea, migrant workers have also raised our voices to fight for our rights and we have built our own union. We were able to do this in part because of the support and solidarity given us by native workers.

Regretably, many migrant workers are made to work at their factories, even on May Day. It is therefore hard for many migrant workers to participate in the May Day protests. Therefore, migrant workers will commemorate May Day with our own protest on May 2. Let us come together on this day to show that we support unity among all workers and to fight to protect our rights, which are attacked with greater ferocity every day.


"We are Workers; Workers are One!" - Migrant Workers May Day Event (2nd of May 2010, 2-6PM)

- Place : Maronie park (subway line 4, exit 2)

- Organizers: KCTU, JCMK, Alliance for Migrants Equality and Human Rights)