In the United States, Labor Days is celebrated the first Monday of September. It does not have the same energy or internationalism as May 1, and its meaning is diluted by the massive discounts at supermarkets. But the festivity is part of the history of the American workers’ movement. It dates back to 1894 and is the product of some of the most radical 19th century struggles conducted by socialists and anarchist unions.
On Monday, workers’ voices were heard, especially those in the “Fight for 15” movement, which has led a vibrant battle for a minimum wage of $15 for years. From Chicago to Memphis, from Kansas City to Los Angeles, Buffalo and Cleveland, leading the parades and the speaker’s corners were the chefs, waiters and cashiers at McDonald’s and Burger King, along with trade unions (SEIU, AFL-CIO) which are battling for an increase of the hourly wage from $11 to $15, trade union rights, health care and other basic benefits that are almost unheard of for those who work in the poor services sector with ultra-precarious contracts.
The American national strike has had a global echo and reached Italy, France, Japan and Great Britain, where the first McDonald’s strike was held in 1974, when the American company opened its British branch of activities; today, it employs 85,000 people in 1,249 restaurants. Worldwide, McDonald’s employs over a million employees.