Five Ways You Can Get Involved in May Day 2021

Vanessa Codilla | April 30, 2021

May Day, or International Workers’ Day, celebrated on May 1 commemorates the historic contributions and sacrifices made by workers across the globe. May Day also raises awareness about ongoing battles that workers are facing today. For over 20 years in Los Angeles, May Day has also been a celebration and mobilization for those who continue to push for workers’ liberation and immigrant justice. 

Coalitions of community and labor organizations usually coordinate large gatherings and marches that uplift worker voices. Last year, despite unprecedented circumstances due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Los Angeles community coalitions organized a virtual action to honor essential and immigrant workers for keeping the country going during the national emergency. 

In anticipation of this Saturday’s May Day holiday, the Labor Studies program housed at UCLA’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) invites you to learn about and honor worker history safely, whether you choose to participate virtually or in-person. 

1. Get involved with the May Day 2021 March presented by the Los Angeles May Day Coalition

If you would like to celebrate May Day in-person, a socially-distanced May Day March/Car Caravan and Rally is happening on Saturday, May 1, beginning at 9 a.m. at the Los Angeles State Historic Park. This year’s theme will be “The Work Continues / La Luche Sigue,” with the focus on lifting up immigrants, workers rights, and fighting against anti-Asian hate. For more information, visit the Facebook Event Page.

2. Use social media to show your support!

Unable to attend the May Day march in-person? Tune into the Facebook livestream of the program prior to the caravan procession. Musical and cultural performances will be showcased at 11 a.m. and the march and caravan will proceed at 12 p.m. Post on your social media accounts using the hashtags #TheWorkContinues, #LaLuchaSigue, and #WeAreHome to show your support in the fight to protect workers and make strides towards racial justice.

3. Watch Labor History Documentaries 

May Day is an opportunity to learn about the fights of workers in the past and their connection with today’s battles. Learn lessons from films that highlight working women who built labor movements in the 1930s and 1970s. “Union Maids” (1976) is an oral history film that chronicles the fight to form industrial unions in the 1930s from the eyes of rank and file women. “9to5: The Story of a Movement” (2020) uplifts the movement started by a group of Boston secretaries in the early 1970s that changed the American workplace. To receive free screening links on May Day, send a request to Ben Evory (Office of Julia Reichert) at Links are accessible on May 1st and 2nd only.  

4. Check out the UCLA Labor Studies Program 

The first major of its kind in the University of California system, the labor studies program offers UCLA undergraduates an opportunity to learn about the workplace and the social, political, and economic forces that influence it. With an emphasis on the labor market, public policy, employment relations, unions, and working-class movements, the program offers high-quality academic coursework around the current and future state of work. The labor studies program also blends classroom with field placement and applied research experiences, bringing ideas and action into a fruitful dialogue that engages students with the Los Angeles community. Learn all about the undergraduate major and minor, and follow Labor Studies on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

5. Tune in to the free online Nonviolence and Social Movements course 

Learn about how the theory and practice of nonviolence has shaped social movements in the United States and across the globe by civil rights leader Reverend James Lawson, Jr. and UCLA Labor Center Director Kent Wong. This 10-week online Labor Studies course is offered free to the public and features a series of conversations from prominent movement leaders. Guest speakers include co-founder of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles chapter Professor Melina Abdullah, renowned labor and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, Los Angeles labor leader State Senator Maria Elena Durazo, and more. Learn about the course on the IRLE Website and access free course videos through UCLA Labor Center’s YouTube channel