Green Bay, WI: Students, workers and community members rally for May Day
Green Bay, WI – On Sunday, April 30, members of Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Appleton Students for a Democratic Society, United Action Oshkosh, and Food Not Bombs all rallied in Green Bay for the third annual May Day celebration in the broader Fox Valley.
The rally began with a reading of a FRSO statement by Aodhan Bowman. Bowman made clear that the enemy – the monopoly capitalists – stand no chance against a united front composed of workers, oppressed nationalities, and youth. As mentioned in the statement, the growing momentum seen in the labor movement and the various people’s movements in the U.S, like the movements for Black, Chicano, and LGBTQ liberation, as well as immigrants and reproductive rights, all remind us that a better world is possible.
Dan Pratt, a Teamster union steward at UPS out of Oshkosh, spoke on the state of union organizing in the U.S. Despite many of the sobering stats he shared, Pratt reminded attendees to be hopeful and encouraged all those present to join or start a union at their workplace if they are not represented by one already.
“Corporations want to have a monopoly on bargaining power, but unions give workers a say over their workplace and the conditions therein,” Pratt said. “The power of the bosses can only be dismantled through the collective organization and struggle of workers. We have nothing to lose but our chains!”
Audari Tamayo, a member of Appleton SDS and FRSO, began his speech by calling back to the events that led to the Bayview and Haymarket Massacres that took place in the early days of May in Milwaukee and Chicago, respectively.
“The eigh-hour work day, five-day work week, lunch breaks and all matters of human decency were won through struggle. Even then, these are things that are continuously being fought for as the state seeks to repress the people, and as capitalism keeps most under the stress of losing their homes, the stress of having enough to eat, and the ever-growing threat of climate change imposed on us by the capitalists.”
The struggle for workers' rights was fresh on the students' minds as they had been fighting against their university’s administration and food provider for increased pay and longer break times for the workers, a struggle that saw awful suppression of students and overt protection of the interests of big business over student well being.
“We are the students, the youth, the majority in our schools, and the heart and soul of the schools which seem to treat us as dispensable, and as a source of cheap labor, and as a way to fund their miseducation schemes. We must take back our schools and our education!” Tamayo said.
Hollie Poupart, member of United Action Oshkosh and FRSO, went next. Poupart related the struggle for workers’ rights to the fight for community control of the police along with the liberation of oppressed nationalities. She recalled to the harrowing events that took place in an Oshkosh rally where protesters were attacked by reactionaries as police stood idly by.
“Police are not on the side of the working and oppressed people. They've shown that their job is to protect property and the oppressive status quo, not the masses!” Poupart said.
Poupart ended her speech calling for all in attendance to show their support at an upcoming rally for Jimmie Sanders, a Milwaukee man murdered in Appleton by the killer cop Jay Steinke. Poupart’s speech reminded attendees that the fight for justice is taking place on all fronts in every community, and that without a collective organized effort, killer cops and exploitative corporations will continue acting with impunity.
To round out the day's speeches, Hannah Hurle, an FRSO member from Green Bay, spoke on the misguided efforts of reactionaries to argue against those seeking to build socialism. Hannah rebuked the claim that capitalism ensures individual freedoms, something that has become evident to be false.
“Collective action is what ensures individual freedoms. The few individual freedoms we have today came as a result of collective struggle by the workers and oppressed people to ensure our individual rights,” Hurle said.
The rally closed with a last reminder from Aodhan Bowman about how things stand.
“This May Day, let's remember that our strength lies in our unity, and the ruling class is well aware of the fact that when capitalism burns, workers will fan the flames and students will add the fuel. Onward to victory, always!”