By Gainesville Restaurant Workers Alliance
Eight employees of local Asian-American restaurant Tasty Buddha announced to their shift manager that they would not be clocking in July 20 because the funds linked to their paychecks were not available on payday. In lieu of washing dishes, taking orders, and chopping vegetables, we would announce our strike, walk a picket line, and encourage boycott of the business. Shortly after, the owner Parker Van Hart arrived to inform us that we all have lost our jobs for not clocking in. The strikers corrected him by simply stating, “Actually, we are on strike right now, protected under federal labor law (National Labor Relations Act). You firing us would be illegal.”
Knowing our rights was vital to the success of our story. The immense community support sustained us: the Industrial Workers of the World brought us water, sunscreen, snacks, and solidarity on the picket line. Individuals with labor experience and members of the ISO had our back. Staffers of bigger unions were always a phone call away to answer any questions.
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BY ROBBIE CZOPEK
The Federation of Organized Trade and Labour Unions in 1884 proclaimed that “eight hours shall constitute a legal day’s labor from and after May 1, 1886.” On May 1, 1886, in the U.S., 300,000 workers walked off their jobs from 13,000 businesses to demand the 8-hour workday. Most of the world’s workers celebrate May 1 as May Day or International Workers Day in remembrance of this. However, the U.S. government chose an arbitrary date in September to celebrate Labor Day in order to distance workers from the holiday’s significance.
The Gainesville Area General Membership Branch of Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) is working with many other local labor, progressive and radical groups to bring Gainesville a fantastic May Day Celebration. So far that list of groups includes the North Central Florida AFL-CIO, Gainesville International Socialist Organization, Gainesville Food Not Bombs, Alachua County Labor Party and Occupy Gainesville. As of the time of this article, we are still in the process of reaching out to many other local groups and hopefully your group has been contacted by now. If not, you can contact the the Gainesville May Day Planning Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by our weekly planning meetings, every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in the Sun Center behind Maudes. For more information, please go to gainesvillemayday.tumblr.com .
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Posted in April 2012, Articles
Tagged afl-cio, alachua county labor party, an injury to one, food not bombs, Gainesville, gainesville food not bombs, gainesville iso, international socialist organization, international workers of the world, iww, labor, may 1, may day, north central florida afl-cio, Occupy Gainesville, workers' memorial day