At The Nation, Peter Dreier gives us a history lesson about May Day and then writes:
The Occupy Wall Street movement’s success can be measured in part by how public opinion has changed about such issues as corporate profits, widening inequality and excessive executive compensation. By last December, two months after the first occupations at Zuccotti Park, 77 percent of Americans—and 53 percent of Republicans—agreed that “there is too much power in the hands of a few rich people and corporations,” according to a Pew Research Center survey. The Pew study also found that 61 percent of Americans believe that “the economic system in this country unfairly favors the wealthy” and that 57 percent think that wealthy people don’t pay their fair share of taxes. Most of these people won’t be found protesting in the streets, but the nation’s changing mood clearly influences what candidates for office and elected officials think they need to do to satisfy public opinion.
This year, in the wake of Occupy Wall Street, and in the midst of a presidential election contest, activists from around the country are ramping up the May Day festivities.
Feeling a new wave of anger and activism among their rank-and-file, unions will be taking to the streets this May Day. In Los Angeles, for example, the County Federation of Labor will augment the downtown immigrant rights rally with a series of protest actions led by different unions and their allies. The Teamsters will sponsor a demonstration at a waste sorting facility owned by American Reclamation, which is infamous for treating its immigrant workers like garbage. The action is part of the Teamsters campaign, in partnership with environmental and community groups, to not only organize workers in recycling plants but also to push the city government to regulate waste collection and recycling. UNITE HERE will bring thousands of hotel workers to Long Beach, where they are organizing several nonunion hotels, to rally and collect signatures for a “living wage” ballot measure. Supported by SEIU, LA’s 8,000 unionized janitors, who will be out in force to demand a better contract from the mega-corporations that own the area’s office buildings, may announce a county-wide strike on May Day. SEIU’s airport workers affiliate will be spending May Day engaged in protest and civil disobedience at Los Angeles International Airport to challenge efforts by major airlines to jeopardize employees health and safety.
In April, a coalition of unions, environmental groups, community organizing networks — including National People’s Action, PICO, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, Jobs with Justice, National Domestic Workers Alliance, Rainforest Action Network, SEIU, United Food and Commercial Workers, AFL-CIO, Communication Workers of America, MoveOn, Unite Here, Common Cause, the Steelworkers union Public Campaign, Public Citizen, Health Care for America Now, the United States Students Association, and others—began a series of protest actions major banks and corporations, and trained close to 100,000 new recruits in civil disobedience tactics.
Greg Mitchell has been live-blogging the Occupy movement for seven months and will be doing the same Tuesday.
An interactive map of May Day activities is here.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2008:
Stand aside Michael Crichton, you have been upstaged. A whole pod of right-wing sci-fi has beens are chiming in with the most peculiar suggestions for fixing social shortcomings heard this side of the Puppeteer Homeworld. What makes this crew spooky is the Department of Homeland Security is reportedly listening to their advice, and that’s not fiction:
Sadly, No — The group has the ear of Department of Homeland Security Undersecretary Jay Cohen, head of the science and technology directorate, who has said he likes their unconventional thinking. … Among the group’s approximately 24 members is Larry Niven, the bestselling and award-winning author of such books as “Ringworld”. Niven said a good way to help hospitals stem financial losses is to spread rumors in Spanish within the Latino community that emergency rooms are killing patients in order to harvest their organs for transplants.
It isn’t the first crazy thing Niven has said, but it may be the most despicable yet: Larry Niven is the great grandson of oil tycoon Edward L. Doheny whose clumsy bribe kicked off a corruption investigation that eventually led to the Teapot Dome scandal. Buoyed by a massive trust fund set up by grandpa Doheney, Niven’s never had to worry a day in his life about healthcare or anything else for that matter. I doubt it would knock any sense into him, but right about now I’d say Larry could use an uninsured visit to the ER, after a bone snapping wake up call administered by a pissed off Pak Protector suffering from Tree-of-Life withdrawal and a litter of starving Kzinti kits chewing on his raw, salted ass. Anything left over can go to the alleged organ banks. After all, as Niven was fond of writing, they’re always empty.