Thursday, April 29, 2010

May Day Celebration

I've been reading in Capital about the struggle over the length of the working day and its intensification for the enhancement of relative surplus value and, of course, the capitalist mode of production more generally. To step outside of the book for a moment, it seems appropriate to note that Saturday is May Day. For all the workers on the front lines, still fighting the good fight while many of us seem to have forgotten, in remembrance of all the workers killed earlier this month in the mining disaster in West Virginia and the oil rig explosion in the Gulf Mexico, for all the workers who are unemployed and about to lose unemployment insurance, for all the workers working two or three jobs to make ends meet, for all the union members, for all the shift workers, for all the custodial workers and service employees, for all the teachers and nurses, for all the workers with horrible commutes, with long hours, with dangerous conditions, for all the workers: Happy May Day.

And in that spirit of May Day, I'd like to draw your attention to an event being held by United Workers, an organization of low-wage workers here in Baltimore that has been doing amazing work for several years now. They first came to our attention a couple years back during their (ultimately successful) fight for a living wage for workers at the Camden Yards stadium. The group was formed in 2002, as their site puts it, "by homeless day laborers meeting in an abandoned firehouse-turned-shelter . . . inspired by past human rights struggles, such as the fight to end slavery, the struggle for civil rights, calls for immigration with dignity, the labor movement, the fight for international economic justice and other human rights and justice movements." They spent years learning about this history and the roots of poverty, which led directly into the Camden Yards campaign.

This Saturday, for May Day, United Workers is hosting Our Harbor Day, an event they've been planning for more than a year:
a day of neighborhood plays and parades, including a march to the Inner Harbor. We’ve made giant puppets, rehearsed musical performances, and been developing a series of art and community actions. Everyone is invited to join in the writing of Baltimore’s history by taking part in community and cultural action together!


The first three acts of Our Harbor Day explore different themes related to economic and social justice. ”Earth” explores issues of environmental justice, especially in relation to development and sustainability. ”Work” explores issues of economic and social justice, focusing on fairness and equity and also on the power of our work to shape history. ”Education” explores the intersection between education and justice, between cultural creation and social movement. Together we will explore the themes of earth, work and education as we think of ways to assert a positive vision for our city.


The final act connects the themes of earth, work and education, and the many histories of our city, to the current struggle for fair development at the Inner Harbor. Just as with the B’More Fair and the Human Rights Zone March last spring, we see our community as interconnected, requiring a diversity of approaches as we work together for the common vision of a just and fair Baltimore for everyone. We’ll finish Our Harbor Day with the final act, culminating at the Inner Harbor and launching the next chapter in our fight for fair development by creating a Human Rights Zone for all workers in heart of our city.
Maybe you live in Baltimore and haven't heard about this but would like to come and participate. Or perhaps you're in Delaware or Philadelphia or Washington, DC, or Virginia? Why not give it a whirl? Well, anyway, we're planning on being there for a good chunk of the day ourselves (of course, I have Aimée to thank for getting us involved; I usually have to be knocked over the head to get it in the mix; it does me good). It begins at 11am, at 2640 (where else?).


Jacob Russell said...

Spent the day in Baltimore... Philly Medea Mobilizing Project allies.. there to observe support and learn.

An amazing day..

Wanna 'follow the rules." you got two choices.



People gotta make our own rules. Baltimore... you got my attention.

Jacob Russell said...

Wish I'd known to look for you...