Santa Cruz Sentinel staff writer
On Saturday May 1, 1886, some 350,000 people across the country hit the
streets in a general strike demanding an eight-hour (rather than the typical
10- to 16-hour) workday.

In Chicago 90,000 women, men and children marched in a peaceful protest.

On Tuesday of that week, police fired randomly into a strikers’ rally in
Chicago, killing four and wounding many.

The next day, workers gathered in Haymarket Square to protest police
violence. When police attempted to disperse the rally, a bomb was thrown,
wounding 70 officers. The police opened fire on the crowd, killing 11
(including seven police officers) and wounding 200 workers.

Police arrested eight labor leaders, seven of whom were not at Haymarket. A
man identified by witnesses as the bomber was released by the police.

The eight labor leaders were sentenced to death, four were hanged, one
committed suicide, and three were released when all eight were finally

In 1889 the Socialist International declared May 1 a day of demonstrations.
Since 1890 workers worldwide have celebrated the battles and victories of
working people that won us many of the benefits we take for granted — like
the weekend and the eight-hour work day.

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