The 1st of May Labor Day is celebrated in more than 80 countries world wide. Mostly Labor Unions march the streets with their members to remember the fights for better working conditions, regular and humane working hours and better salaries.
On one side the 1st of May marks the Chicago Haymarket Affair in 1886. That day police shot down demonstrators who were fighting for an 8 hour working day. After that bloody event, it became a yearly routine for people to flood the streets to demonstrate for better working conditions. Eventually May 1st turned into a public holiday. But why is the US not celebrating Labor Day on May 1st then?
This may have two reasons. One, government was afraid, that the Haymarket Affair could increase anger and violence during the demonstrations. Realizing that yet a public holiday for the workers was necessary, was underlined through the Pullman strike on the 11th of May 1894. On that day, workers of the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago stood up in a strike against payment cuts and the firing of Workers Unions representatives. George Pullman was a typical welfare capitalist, without any thought about the wellbeing of his employees. The kettle was forced to boil over.
Secondly, May 1st is a celebration of the working classes that has been strongly promoted by the international labor movement anarchists and specially by socialists and communists that carry the label of “power to the working class” in their ideology. As of that, the US represents totally opposite values, and of course would want to avoid any support for socialism especially communism. This was more than obvious during the cold war, the muscle play right and left from the iron curtain; communism vs capitalism. The US celebrates its Labor Day on the first Monday of September, basically marking the end of summer. People celebrate this day with barbecues, hamburgers and hot dogs.
In The Philippines the 1st of May is known as Labor Day and is a public holiday. Generally Labor organizations and unions hold protests in major cities. On the 1st of May 1903, the Union Obrera Democratica Filipina (Filipino Democratic Labor Union) held a rally with 100000 people in front of the Malacañan Palace demanding workers economic rights and Philippine independence from the American occupancy. On the 1st of May 2001, a massive demonstration was held near the Malacañang Palace, better known as EDSA 3 or May 1 riots.
During the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a new called holiday economics policy that moved holidays to either a Monday or a Friday to create a long weekend. In 2002, Labor Day was yet moved to 29 April. After years of protests, finally in the year 2008, Labor Day was excluded in the holiday economics policy, returning to the 1st of May finally.
By Thomas Fleckner