Asheville Coalition To Celebrate International Workers Day with Rally and March Downtown
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 1, 2021 (Asheville, NC) — A local coalition including members of Asheville DSA, WNC Workers’ Assembly, Party for Socialism and Liberation, Raise Up! WNC, Just Economics WNC, Down Home WNC, and the Sunrise Movement Hub of Asheville are celebrating May Day downtown with a rally and march at 1pm.
“Celebrating International Workers’ Day is a long standing tradition in Asheville and all over the world,” said Emma Hutchens, Living Wage program Coordinator with Just Economics. “Historically, worker organizing revolutionized workplace safety and labor laws and now in the present, after a year of COVID-19 highlighting how every worker is essential and the risks that workers took on through the pandemic to meet the needs of the public, it’s clear that there’s still work to be done. Nevertheless, I think of May Day as a joyful and celebratory day reminding us of what’s possible when we work together.”
International Workers’ Day began in the late 19th century as part of a global movement for workers rights. Though its foundations are in Europe, the date was selected to honor Americans that were killed in the Haymarket Riot of 1887.
“May Day is the day to draw attention to the power that workers have when we come together. In 1886 workers got organized and demanded ‘8 hrs for work, 8 hrs for sleep, 8 hrs for what you will.’ Today we need new demands for a new time,” said Megan Greene, a grocery store worker and member of NC Raise Up/Fight for $15 from Morganton. “We are organizing to demand at least $15 an hour, healthcare for all, workplace safety protections and real decision making power on our jobs.”
This year’s Asheville May Day celebration is slated to include speakers, a “sing-a-long,” a parade through downtown, and a banner drop. It will also feature efforts to organize local residents and raise awareness about economic issues, through the distribution of care packages to downtown workers.
“I’ve been a CNA since I was 18 years old. I’m proud of the care I give to people. But as CNA’s we are underpaid across the board. That’s why we’re organizing,” said Sandra JW Brown, a homecare worker and member of NC Raise Up & Fight for $15 from Asheville. “North Carolina is a Right to Work state. Some workers think this means we can’t organize or unionize, but that’s not true. We still have rights as workers. If more folks knew their rights, they would be less afraid to speak up.”