MU grad students feel connection to "May Day"

Related Story

COLUMBIA - The Coalition of Graduate Workers held its 2nd annual May-Day Picnic Tuesday afternoon in Peace Park.

"May Day is an international holiday that commemorates the struggle for the 8-hour work day in the 1880s." said organizer Joseph Moore. "It's mostly celebrated outside of the United States but because were a labor union we keep the tradition alive."

The picnic saw coalition members engage with one another, hold "teach-ins" about both international and domestic labor rights and highlight the bargaining disputes between graduate students and MU.

"We see ourselves in the struggle for the 8-hour day," Moore said. "That was a struggle for dignity and respect in the workplace and better working conditions, and we're asking for similar respect and dignity in the workplace, so there's a connection between the two."

On the groups decision to hold a picnic, Moore said, "We do the marches, we do the rallies, we do the agitation but a big part of being a union is building a community."

One coalition member said it's important to understand the history of May Day in order to recognize the significance of labor rights.

"My dad was a union member -- he was a carpenter," said member Dawn Van Scoik. "So I understand the importance of unions, the importance of labor and the importance of labor workers being treated fairly, so May Day is really important in that history."

Van Scoik said the message she hopes the University gets from the gathering is simple.

"We are workers," she said. "We just want to be recognized as workers, and coming together May-Day -- it's the most important day for us to get together to do this."