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IWW Reclaims May Day in Grand Rapids

May 2, 2010

Yesterday, about 200 people came to a May Day event at Martin Luther King Park, hosted by the Grand Rapids Chapter of the IWW. Reclaiming the original day when working people gathered together to build solidarity and community, the IWW invited a variety of organizations to come and talk about their work, enjoy some food and live music throughout the day.

There were representatives from Stop Targeting Our Kids (STOK), the Bloom Collective, a new socialist student group at GVSU, Our Kitchen Table, an anti-foreclosure group and the West Michigan Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

In addition to the speakers there were children’s activities, a community potluck, information tables and the Really Really Free Market. All of this combined provided an atmosphere of solidarity and a chance for people to build community.

The IWW also passed out a document reflecting their core beliefs and current position on issues of importance to working people and their families. The document read:

  • We believe that that this economic system of exploitation, capitalism, where profits are valued more than people, is inherently unjust. The IWW wants to replace Capitalism with an economic model where everyone’s needs are met. We envision a society where workers take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth.
  • We believe that all workers have the right to organize. The IWW has a history of organizing everyone in the working class, even students and the unemployed. In Grand Rapids we have organized Starbucks workers and are planning a new organizing campaign of bar and restaurant workers.
  • We believe that until Capitalism is replaced with a better economic system that all workers have a right to a livable wage. Right now in the US according to United for a Fair Economy, the average CEO makes 344 times more than the average worker. CEOs are not more valuable than workers and we will work with anyone on a campaign for a livable wage ordinance for Grand Rapids and Kent County.
  • We believe that the US government has misused taxpayers’ money by bailing out Wall Street, which has done nothing more than reward institutions engaged in criminal behavior. Hundreds of thousands of people are losing their homes to foreclosure and unemployment and while underemployment affects millions, the rich are rewarded. The IWW condemns both the bailout and the so-called federal economic stimulus. Imagine what would have happened if the money the government gave to Wall Street Bankers went to the American public to pay off all our mortgages and to pay workers a livable wage. That would have been a real economic stimulus!
  • We believe, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that a nation that spends more on war than it does on the well being of its citizens is deplorable. As of today, the US has spent $989 Billion of taxpayers’ money on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, $518 million from Grand Rapids alone. The IWW condemns these wars and the use of the working class to fund and fight them.
  • We believe that no human being is “illegal”.  We are firmly opposed to SB 1070 in Arizona, which disenfranchises and criminalizes a whole race of people. As a union formed by immigrants we stand in solidarity with all immigrants. Liberal “free trade” policies like NAFTA and CAFTA create a race to the bottom at the expense of ALL workers.

The following video is with IWW organizer Cole Dorsey:

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