May Day 2017 Statement
President of UE Local 150, NC Public Service Workers Union
Good morning. I’m Nathanette Mayo, president of the NC Public Service Workers Union, UE150. I bring you greetings and solidarity on this May Day – International Workers Solidarity Day.
The first May Day celebration or rally began here in the US & represented workers & working peoples’ struggle for the eight hour workday. Eight hours of work, eight hours of play/recreation and eight hours of rest. It, then, was also and still is, now, a fight to hold greedy corporate bosses accountable & to hold the government accountable to the needs of working people.
We are all workers in this United States. Whether we were born here; walked, drove or flew across a border or sailed into a port to get here. Whether we are men, women, trans, young, old, abled or differently abled, employed, unemployed, underemployed, retired, black, brown, white –we ALL are workers. We workers are “the People” referred to in the constitutions of the U.S. and North Carolina. We are the people referred to in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We are here today to demand that those elected by us do the will of the people.
You know in some mission statement I came across one time that had some pretty interesting ideas about working people, it stated that:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
There was also two sections of an article I read which stated:
Section 1. The equality and rights of persons.
We hold it to be self-evident that all persons are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, the enjoyment of the fruits of their own labor, and the pursuit of happiness.
Sec. 2. Sovereignty of the people.
All political power is vested in and derived from the people; all government of right originates from the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the whole.
That was Article 1 of the NC State Constitution.
And in the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights passed in 1948
(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
So, the framework is there. We as working people must hold their – government & corporate bosses feet to the fire. We cannot let their attempts to fragment us, pit worker against worker succeed & weaken us and our workers movement.
We must fight against attempts by backwards legislators on Jones Street the write “Right to Work” into our state constitution. The real purpose of right to work laws is to tilt the balance toward big corporations and further rig the system at the expense of working families. These laws make it harder for working people to form unions and collectively bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions. We must fight their attempts to pass laws which criminalize with arrests and felony charges for exercising our constitutional right to assemble, protest, and petition our government for working people’s needs. We must fight against deportations of undocumented workers. We must fight for healthy and safe jobs. We must fight for $15 minimum wage and the right to a union. And we must fight for the human right of collective bargaining for public workers here in North Carolina.
Fruit of Labor Singing Ensemble, whom I sing with, wrote a song which said “they’re lying to us to make us forget that We the People, is where the power’s at”.
So on this May Day – International Workers Solidarity Day we have to recommit to the national and international workers struggles. We cannot give away our power. We hold the purse strings because they, the 1% wealthy & corporate barons, don’t make a dime unless we move!
Power the the Workers! Power to the People!