On Monday, May 1, hundreds of people joined together to march through the streets of Seattle, Salem, and other cities in the Pacific Northwest in recognition of International Workers Day, which has been celebrated for over a century to acknowledge the struggles and successes of workers and migrants around the world. The PNW People Over Profit (PNW POP) coalition helped organize and attend these actions.
The marches were led by groups that included grassroots organizations, labor unions, political collectives, migrant organizations and community nonprofits. Sponsoring organizations of the Seattle march included El Comité, BAYAN Seattle, MLK Labor Union, Seattle Democratic Socialists of America, SEIU, 350 Seattle, and others.
In Seattle, participants began at the Henry M. Jackson Federal Building. Several people from different organizations gave speeches, representing groups such as Casa Latina, Black Star Farmers, La Resistencia, and the Drivers Union of WA. There was a land acknowledgement from a descendant of Chief Seattle, Ken Workman, and a musical performance by Paul Chiyokten Wagner of the Saanich Nation. Other Indigenous representation included Roxanne White, speaking on behalf of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, People, and Families organization. The program overall demanded that people around the world stand alongside workers, migrants, and all oppressed peoples in the wake of heightening fascism, union busting, human rights violations, and the climate crisis.
After the beginning program, the mobilization through downtown began: the crowd first marched to PCC, then to the Amazon Spheres and Amazon Go stores, past the Bank of America building, and lastly to Denny Park. Each stop had speakers discussing the labor violations and workers organizing at the various corporations. Chants were led that said, "PCC/Amazon workers, we love you! Fight for your rights and we will too!" Ending at Denny Park were several speakers who encouraged the audience of workers, migrants/immigrants, activists, and unions to not let the fight for worker rights end that day, but continue beyond May 1st.
The march upheld the significance of May 1st as a worker’s holiday, a day with roots in the labor movements of the late 19th century. In the U.S., May Day originated as International Workers’ Day to commemorate the worker-led strikes that took place in Chicago in 1886, known as the Haymarket Affair. In 1889, the Second International held its first official meeting in Paris calling for demonstrations in the following year, on the anniversary of the Chicago protests, under the banner of May Day.
The May Day 2023 marches were a continuation of the bright tradition of recognizing May 1st as a day of celebration and remembrance for workers around the world. From Seattle, to Salem, to Skagit, the Pacific Northwest-wide POP coalition carried on the legacy of May Day.
POP especially highlighted the upcoming Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference coming to Seattle in August for a month's worth of ministerial meetings. The speakers at May Day described APEC as a place where world leaders decide how to exploit the world's resources and worker labor amongst themselves for maximum profit. Speeches appealed to the crowd and Seattle residents to mobilize against APEC by joining the POP coalition.
For anyone interested in getting involved with the work being done by these organizations, the organizers encourage participating in the upcoming APEC counter-summit in Seattle on July 29-30. The counter-summit is intended to be the people's response to the neoliberal schemes of the APEC conference. More information can be found here http://bit.ly/pnw-pop.
Pacific Northwest People Over Profit (PNW POP)