International Worker's Day, sometimes called May Day or Labour Day, takes place annually on May 1. This day is a celebration of labourers and the working class and commemorates the historic and ongoing struggles of the labour movement. In the late 1800's, workers came together to fight for safer work environments and an eight-hour workday, demanding eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, and eight hours to do as they will. These workers struggled and fought, eventually taking to the streets in a general strike that would result in death and injury to those who participated.
In Canada, the struggle of the working class came to a head in 1919 during the Winnipeg General Strike, which lasted for six weeks as more than 30,000 workers withheld their labour and brought the Winnipeg economy to a grinding halt. The strike was a result of social inequalities, stagnant wages, inequalities at work, rising prices, and poor health and housing conditions. The climax of the strike occurred on June 21, which became known as Bloody Sunday when a silent parade on Main Street was taking place. The protestors refused to end the demonstration. The Royal North-West Mounted Police came through the crowd on horseback, wielding clubs at the people in attendance, and then opening fire on the crowd. Two workers were killed.
The history of the labour movement, around the world, in Canada, and within Saskatchewan, has a bloody, violent history, as our brothers, sisters and comrades fought for the workplace protections that we enjoy today. As trade unionists, we must remember the sacrifices made by those who have come before us and we must be willing to continue to fight for our rights, and for the rights of those who will come after us. Our struggles today are different, our demands reflect the world we are living in more than 100 years following the birth of the labour movement, but we remain part of struggle with every negotiation, arbitration, and strike that occurs today.
While the history of International Worker's Day is heavy, we wanted to offer a bit of history of this important day, along with a fun contest to celebrate union labour. Did you know that union printers and manufacturers place something called a Union Bug on printed items or garments that have been produced by union labour? This provides a way for consumers to know if the goods they are buying have been made by workers who are represented by a union. It's called a "bug" because the image is very small and sometimes looks like a tiny bug on an item. We've included a few pictures of union bugs that we found today to give you an idea of what they look like. Can you spot them in each picture?
We are challenging you to find a union bug in your home, workplace, or community, snap a picture of it and send it to us at [email protected] for a chance to win a pair of tickets to see Stars on Ice the evening of May 11 in Saskatoon.
The Fine Print:
Contest is open to SEIU-West members.
This contest is not endorsed, sponsored, or authorized by any social media platform it is shared on.
The deadline to enter is Friday May 5 at 9:00am.
One entry per person.
Two sets of tickets are available.
Winner will be selected by random draw.
In the event travel and/or accommodations are required to attend the event, SEIU-West is not responsible for these costs.