The massive marches in Chicago and Los Angeles alone represented millions of undocumented workers joined by organized labor and trade unionists. The film The Penthouse of Heaven- May Day Chicago 2006 features footage from the Chicago demonstration, the city whose Haymarket riots 120 years ago are some of the most prominent in labor history. A one-day strike for an eight-hour workday was held on May 1st, 1886. On the 4th, following a shooting and riot the previous day at a plant, a bomb exploded in Haymarket Square, killing eight police officers. Though the bomb thrower was never identified, seven men received death sentences.
Worldwide appeals for clemency led to the establishment of May 1 as International Worker’s Day across the world. The United States, however, has not adopted the holiday, but the mass demonstrations on May 1 of this year celebrated the country’s own international workers in solidarity.
The festival continues through July 31st, with historical walks commemorating the Oakland General Strike, labor films at the Roxie Theater, readings at Modern Times Bookstore, a Maritime History Boat Tour, and dozens of other events in San Francisco and Oakland. Go to www.laborfest.net for a complete schedule.