In capitalist society, people have very little recourse when they're treated badly at work. Bad bosses can and frequently do mistreat, abuse, and fire workers just because they feel like it.
When workers can no longer tolerate it or get fired, they find themselves scrambling to keep their families' heads above water.
May 1 is celebrated as International Workers' Day in most other countries. This holiday reminds us workers need mechanisms to fight back.
On May 1, 1886, workers in Chicago struck for the eight-hour day. Police moved in, someone (likely a provocateur) threw a bomb, people died in the blast and six likely innocent labor leaders were hanged. On May Day, we mourn these martyrs' sacrifices and celebrate what can be won through organization.
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Workers in the 19th and 20th centuries were subject to the vagaries of capitalism and bad bosses. However, unlike workers today, they had the benefit of strong unions, mutual-aid societies, cooperative enterprises and political parties built by workers to fight the power and serve the people.
Over the last 40 years, a coordinated assault by employers and the political right has decimated or corrupted most of these institutions.
Today, bad bosses mistreat some groups of people more than others. A 2011 study by Jaime M. Grant revealed that 90 percent of transgender people have experienced harassment or mistreatment at work, and 26 percent have been fired for being transgender.
A local transgender man, Rayne Martinez, was fired for his sexual orientation and gender identity. Unlike straight couples in the office, he and his wife, Donna, were not allowed to acknowledge each other on the job.
A litany of discriminatory write-ups followed this incident. Ultimately, Martinez was terminated after he took bereavement leave for his father's funeral.
This put him in a tough spot. He enjoyed his job taking care of adults with developmental disabilities, but cannot find another job in the field because of his bogus disciplinary record.
Unlike most people in his situation, he decided to fight back. He found a group of allies in the local socialist organization, Kentucky Workers League.
Since January, Martinez and the Kentucky Workers League have demanded that his former employer purge the discriminatory write-ups from his file and admit wrongdoing.
We have been working to renew the old traditions of labor organizing and working-class politics. We invite all people of good conscience to join in a parade today for justice.
Participants will gather in the parking lot of Third Street Coffee & Stuff at 257 N. Limestone at 2:30 p.m. and begin the parade at 3 p.m.
Workers of all kinds will stand together and make their voices heard.