If you live in New York City, you know that something big is being planned for the upcoming May day public holiday. You can tell by the posters plastered all over the city. “May 1st—No Work, No School, No Shopping”. Occupy Wall Street Environmental Solidarity is planning an “eco-bloc” contingent for the day, highlighting ways in which the interests of workers, immigrants, and ecosystems intersect. The solution..a “green jobs program”.
If you live in New York, you’ve probably seen the stickers stuck to subway railings and the posters wheat-pasted to construction site walls that read, “May 1st—No Work, No School, No Shopping.” The first day of May marks International Worker’s Day. The holiday typically draws millions to the streets worldwide to advocate for workers’ rights.
In the United States in recent years May Day has also become a day in defense of immigrants—those who are paid the lowest and often do the dirtiest jobs in our society all while living with the threat of deportation over their heads. In 2006, over a million people flooded the streets across America calling for congress to instate the DREAM act which would give the children of undocumented immigrants an opportunity to become citizens upon completion of college or military service.
The ascension of the Occupy Movement this fall, injecting a bit of class consciousness into our political discourse, has reinvigorated organizing efforts around the workers’ holiday and this year promises to be one of the largest May Days in recent memory. Immigrant rights groups, unions, and Occupy activists plan a full scale day of community pickets culminating in a mass march from Union Square into the financial district. Occupations across the country have put out a call for a “general strike”, calling it “a day without the 99%.” It’s hard to say if there will be a literal “general strike” in the traditional sense of mass walkouts, but tens of thousands are expected to hit the pavement in New York City alone, converging on the financial district, and reinvigorating the movement that sprung up this fall for social and economic justice.
Environmentalists and unions are often pitted against each other in jobs versus conservation scenarios. But, on closer examination these distinctions melt away, replaced by points of unity.
A case in point: this fall, the Oil and Natural Gas Industry Labor-Management Committee published a website called Jobs for the 99 percent. The site calls for the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would stretch from Alberta, Canada’s tar sands to the Gulf Coast, carrying heavy crude oil to refineries that service global markets. NASA climate scientist James Hansen has cautioned that the amount of natural gas required to extract tar sands oil, along with the oil itself, would emit so much heat-trapping carbon dioxide that it would spell “game over” for our planet.
Incidentally, or perhaps not so incidentally, you might ask who is this Labor-Management Committee that set up the Jobs for the 99 website? The CEOs of Exxon, Marathon Oil and Devon Energy all sit on the committee. Its Secretary-Treasurer is Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute.
The Jobs for the 99 website claims that Hollywood celebrities who took part in demonstrations against the XL at the White House are preventing the 99% from receiving the bountiful employment opportunities the pipeline will present. This assertion by the Labor-Management Committee has been greatly bolstered by coverage of the pipeline on Fox News. The network has gone so far as to proclaim the XL would create a million jobs. TransCanada, operator of the would-be pipeline, has put jobs figures at a more modest 20,000-300,000, listing as possible auxiliary jobs speech therapists, choreographers and dancers.
Source: The Examiner