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May Day. What does this have to do with me?
We often hear the comments, “What does this have to do with me?” “Why do I need to vote?”, “What has the union done for me?” and “Why do I care about May Day?”. Do you notice the one common thing that pops up in these questions we often hear, is the word “I” or “me,” and that is why some do not get why labour movements are so important nor do you understand the importance of May 1.
Let us break down even more. It is hard to believe that in 2022, the 2SLGBTQ+ community can still face discrimination in the workplace. This is especially evident for trans folks who are just trying to be their true authentic selves. The community has long faced acts of violence and hate.
Living with HIV is still a struggle, and many folks do not get assessed or disclose their HIV status, because of ongoing discrimination today, especially for many in the workplace. People living with HIV are often referred to as being “Dirty” and what exactly does that mean? They do not shower? Like come on, its 2022 and we know with proper medications, a HIV positive person cannot pass on HIV to their sexual partners. Yet, here we are, folks living with HIV still losing their jobs, losing their homes, no access to doctors and medications. We are not talking about people in a third world country either, we are talking right here at home in Canada where we get people protesting because they are asked to wear a mask. Let us also not forget, the harassment folks feel in the workplace, for just being who they are.
“In 1889, May Day (May 1) was chosen as the date for International Workers’ Day, labour activists in general around the world, to commemorate the Haymarket affair in Chicago and the struggle for an eight-hour working day.”
To be honest, yes things are better because of the unions and the labour movement. For example, because of them, we have 8-hour workdays, 40-hour work weeks, parental Leave, EI benefits, CPP, and OAP. Let us not forget they fought for universal healthcare, minimum wage increases, and continue to fight for equality for everyone even when you are not part of the labour movement. But sadly, we still have things to change. Life / work balance comes to mind, livable wages. and of cours, just to be who you are and treated with dignity and equality. The Labour movement will hold governments accountable when they try to take away your rights and they fight against legislation that is bad for everyday workers.
If you are still asking, “What does this still have to do with me?” Then that is the problem, because its not necessarily about you as an individual, its about your community, its about your neighbour, your mother, your father, your kids, your siblings, and yes the homeless. You can affect change, or you can continue to sit there and say, “Me” over and over again. But eventually, you must realize its not about you, its about all of us which does include you.
Everyone has the right to be who they are and live their life and find work that gives a good life work balance no matter your race, background, sexual orientation, HIV status, or whether you are 2SLGBTTIQQ+. Its about freedom, real freedoms that are protected under the Charter of Rights of Freedom in Canada and Human Rights Codes which suggests that some employers / folks missed that memo.
Welcome to MAY DAY folks! Stand together, make a change, give everyone the right to be who they are wherever they go, and also be treated with dignity and respect. Seems simple, doesn’t it? Then why is it that we still struggle is what you should be asking. If you are asking that question, then its not about “you” anymore, it is about all of us and that is May 1.
Love Geri Atrick
About the Author
Geri Atrick is co-host of Not So Str8 Talk, a show that focuses on marginalized & 2SLGBTQ+. Geri also organizes national events around music and the arts, is deeply passionate and active in politics, and is an advocate on many social justice issues. Giver her a little wine and you will never know what she will say. Check out the show at www.str8talk.ca or at Hunters Bay Radio