What’s going on for Bay Area May Day?

Pub date April 30, 2012
WriterYael Chanoff
SectionPolitics Blog

UPDATE: The Golden Gate Labor Coalition has announced a change of plans. Instead of Golden Gate Bridge pickets, the coalition will be supporting a strike of ferry workers, who plan to bring all morning ferry service to a standstill. They have announced that the actions at the Golden Gate Bridge are cancelled, and instead workers will be demonstrating in solidarity with ferry workers in Larkspur- specific locations will be announced later today.

May 1, International Workers Day — May Day — used to strike fear into the hearts of bosses. The first May Day in 1867 was a fight for the eight-hour workday in Chicago (see more history at Citizen Radio at the Occupy Oakland Tribune). Since then, May 1 has remained a day when grievances are aired, when students and workers party in the street, when people strike in ways that shows whose really boss (you can’t have that work that keeps everything running without all those workers.) But mostly in other countries.

In the US, the day has diminished in importance, although it has resurged in recent years focused on immigrants rights. But what with Occupy Wall Street, labor and union organizing ramping up, and student strikes, and all these people working more and more closely together, May Day is coming back to the US.

The Bay Area certainly won’t be left out. Here is a list of May Day events, starting tonight and ending–well, who knows when. If you know of others, write them in the comments: it wouldn’t be a decentralized massive attempt at a full-on general strike without you!


5:30pm, San Francisco:

City workers from SEIU Local 1021 will gather at City Hall in a continued offensive surrounding their ongoing contract negotiations. The program runs until 7:30 pm, but the protest will go on “until they kick us out!”

8pm, San Francisco:

“The strike starts early” with a gathering at Dolores Park. According to a press release, demonstrators will meet “for a ruckus street party to counter gentrification, capitalism, and the policing of our communities.” www.strikemay1st.com/the-strike-starts-early

MAY DAY (Tue/1)

All day:

National Nurses United/California Nurses United is on strike at Sutter Health locations throughout the Bay Area. According to a press release, “some 4,500 RNs will be affected by the planned walk-out.”

ILWU Local 10, which worked in solidarity with Occupy Oakland in two port shutdowns last fall, is planning another one. They say that a work stoppage will halt the Port of Oakland’s operations all day.

7-10am, San Francisco:

The Golden Gate Bridge labor coalition, representing several unions of workers on the bridge, have been without a contract since April 2011. They originally called for a strike and resulting shut down of the bridge- and had massive support behind them. They’re now saying the protest will involve picketing at the bridge instead. So come join a picket, or if you cross the bridge don’t take the workers for granted- the bridge doesn’t work without them. www.occupythebridge.com

7am, San Francisco:

Meet at 16th st and Mission to be a part of the first SF Bike Cavalry of the day, a critical mass that will ride to the Golden Gate Bridge in solidarity with the picket. www.sfbikecavalry.org

8:30am – 12pm, Oakland:

Occupy Oakland will join others protesting, picketing, and generally striking at three (or four?) “action stations.” Meet at Snow Park for a “flying picket” that will “shut down banks and the Chamber of Commerce.” Meet at First and Broadway to “occupy Child Protective Services” in response to a decision they made to de-grant custody of one woman’s children based in part on her involvement in Occupy Oakland. Meet at 22nd and Telegraph to cause mayhem at uptown and downtown business associations. www.strikemay1st.com/119/

10am, San Francisco:

A rally and march for immigrants rights (the people who have been holding down US May Day for years.) Meet at 24th St Mission Bart for a march to 16th St. 

11am, San Francisco:

Janitors and retail workers at Westfield Mall are engaged in an ongoing labor dispute, and they’ll be picketing in solidarity at 5th and Market. 

11am, San Francisco:

A second SF Bike Cavalry will convene at Justin Herman Plaza to support the janitors strike, the immigrants’ rights march, and the Peoples Street Festival

11:30am, Hayward:

The Amalgameted Transit Union Local 192 will protest “substandard conditions” and “institutionalized racism” (according to a press release) at the operators of AC Transit, A-Para Transit Corporation, 22990 Clawiter Rd in Hayward.

12pm, San Francisco:

All the San Francisco students who walk out of school, workers who call in sick, people who usually do all the housework, who, for the day, say screw it, and other “general strike” participants will converge at Montgomery and Market for the People’s Street Festival. Music, performance, art and fun for the whole family. 

Noon-1pm, Oakland:

A mass rally in Oakland, at 14th and Broadway, with food, speakers, music, activities, and generally a lot to do that you can’t if you’re at work. 

1-3pm, Oakland:

According to Occupy Oakland “After the rally, those in attendance have the opportunity to stay downtown or join one of the autonomous actions that will be departing from 14th & Broadway to continue shutting down various capitalist institutions in the downtown area.”

3pm, Oakland:

Meet at Fruitvale Plaza (next to the Fruitvale Bart station) for likely the biggest action of the day. The March for Dignity and Resistance is being called the Bay Area’s regional protest and supporters will be there from all over the area. mayday2012.blogspot.com

6pm, San Francisco:

Celebrate workers rights at a fundraiser for Young Workers United, a self-described “multi-racial and bilingual membership organization dedicated to improving the quality of jobs for young and immigrant workers.” The party is at El Rio, 3158 Mission. www.occupysf.org

On May Day, local groups who have taken to occupying spaces in ways other than public square-camping will be ramping up their efforts. The occupied farm at Gill Tract will push on, and in a message from Occupy San Francisco: “On May Day, the SF Commune will open it’s doors and conduct another Open Occupation in solidarity with the May 1st General Strike.” So if you’re looking for someone to sleep while protesting a complex web of oppressive forces Tuesday night, you may be in luck.

For more information, see www.strikemay1st.com, a clearinghouse for Bay Area May Day plans.

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