On the heels of Rachel Stafford’s story of postal workers fighting mandatory overtime we bring you another piece from Edmonton. This is a speech by our friend and comrade Frank Edgewick. We’re reposting it because it speaks to our shared values, and because we like what it sounds like. Frank gave this speech at Edmonton’s May Day celebration at End of Steel Park after a march through the Whyte Avenue entertainment district. The annual event drew 80 workers from all sectors along with a half-dozen police vehicles. Below Frank’s speech we post a report by Recomposition’s own Phinneas Gage. Gage describes how May Day marchers handled police interference.
On May Day, workers celebrate their shared history of struggle and unite to build the struggle for the future. We celebrate International Workers Day on May 1st in honor of the Haymarket Martyrs who were put to death for their involvement in 1886 with the 8-hour day movement.
The election is tomorrow. The election is about who rules this country. Rulers who set conditions for our lives. The election is about class power. The class power of the owners is on display. We get to pick which faction of the owning class makes the laws.
This is nothing to jeer at – for some of us, with cuts and wars, this can mean the difference – between life and death.
May Day is today. May Day celebrates workers who would not be ruled. Workers who made better conditions for our lives. May Day is about class power. The class power of working and unemployed people is being built. We get to build it. We struggle. This is how we become the heroes of our own stories.
The election comes around once every four years or so. May Day comes every year.
There are three hundred and sixty-four days left, most years, for organizing our class.
Organizing is bringing people together. It is bringing people together to build power.
Organizing builds power for our class. Our class power will change our lives and the whole world.
Organize by listening, talking, mapping, planning, and fighting. Listen to our people
Talk to our people. Map our struggles. Plan our struggles. Fight to win. Organize… by listening, talking, mapping, planning, and fighting to win.
Listen to the people who share our situation: our neighbours, our coworkers, people who ride our buses. These are the members of our class. These are our people. We are all ages, all colours, all genders, and all abilities. We have different origins, different sexual orientations, different families, different problems and different stories. We are different from each other.
Learn about our class and the world from these different ways through life. Hear the story of our class and hear our agitations and troubles. Make it known that you are listening.
Talk to our people. Tell them that you hear them. Tell them where you come from.
Tell them that our stories weave strength together. Tell them that our problems are related. Tell them that we can work together. Tell them that our class can fight back.
Tell them that our class has always fought back. Tell them that the bosses will fight us and that we will still win.
Map our struggle. Map it out together with our people. Learn about the place where you are. Remember what you learn – share it with others. Map out our points of strength. Map out the bosses’ points of weakness. Map out our allies. Map out our resources. Map out our communication. Map out the terrain of our struggle.
Plan our struggle. Plan to win. Plan it on the map. Plan with our people. Plan to bring allies together. Bring resources together. Plan on set backs. Plan on victories. Plan for counter attacks. Plan so that you are three steps ahead. Make three back-up plans.
Fight to win. Fight for a bus to bring you home at night. Fight evictions. Fight the boss.
Fight the cops. Fight for dignity. Fight for respect. Fight for a better life for our kids.
Fight for safe places for workers to leave our kids. Fight for a wage you can live on.
Fight for a wage life can be good on. Fight for work that doesn’t hurt you. Fight for work that makes things better. Fight.
Pick battles we can win. Pick battles that fit the scale of our movement. Pick strategies and tactics that will help us win. But fight.
On May Day, honour our class history. The day after May Day, and the day after that,
and every day, Organize our class.
Listen to our people! Talk to our people! Map the terrain of our struggle!
Plan our struggle! Fight to win!
“[I realise]… that ‘many people have died for the right to vote’, but observes that also many people have died for the eight hour work day and the sanctity of the weekend… and while i have often felt that my vote was wasted and that elections have let me down, the weekend has *always* come through for me.”
-Matt Black, Calgary Anarchist Extraordinaire
On May First about eighty workers marched down Whyte Avenue in Edmonton from Corbett Hall at the University of Alberta Campus to End of Steel Park. Leading the march was the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) the union at my job. Every year the march is held without asking a permit from the city, this is not out of lazyness- it is a political statement.The city demands that groups wanting to hold protest marches on the streets pay a fee of a few thousand dollars in order to cover the cost of a police escort. There has rarely been much of an issue made about this by the police. Usually the turnout to this march is much higher, generally around a couple of hundred people. However this year it was held the day before a Federal Election. Many, many people sent their regards to the folks who were marching but they were working hard for the Orange Wave that was supposedly going to sweep Edmonton.
The march started off as it always does, calmly and quietly, as the mixture of environmental activists, trade unionists, wobblies and anarchists poured on to Whyte avenue you could hear the music from Marching band over the Sunday afternoon traffic. This all changed by the time the march entered the main commercial district on Whyte Avenue. As we were walking down the street we could see a police car with it’s lights flashing in front of another crowd waving flags. We were confused a first, then we saw the signs and could make out the colours on the flags, they were Syrians calling for Canadian support for their struggles in the middle east!
Immediately several wobblies rushed across the crosswalk to shake their hands and cheer them on. Moreover it appeared the police had them isolated to one piece of sidewalk on Whyte Avenue while we held most of the lanes going one way. The crowds both stopped briefly and began chanting “Solidarity!” at each other other. At this point the Police were visibly displeased. After exchanging literature and cheering for a few minutes both marches went on their separate ways, the Syrians were on their way to an event I was told and could not join us.
As soon as we began moving on hoards of police cars descended on the Mayday march. One tall, gaunt officer who must have been in charge waded into the middle of our crowd and began shouting at people to get on to the sidewalk. Everyone simply ignored him. Trade Unionists stared blankly at the police officer, Anarchists simply kept their heads down and stiffled a giggle. He stormed out of the crowd screaming for people to get back on the sidewalk as people simply continued on.
Then we could hear sirens behind us, and could see the crowd at the back shuffling. As the sirens drew closer I could see the same man driving his police cruiser through the crowd with the lights flashing and the siren going. This guy was a maniac! When he left the front of the crowd he pulled his car up half a block and then parked it in the middle of the intersection to block our path. He then got out and started shouting that he wanted to talk to “whoever was in charge”.
The people at the front simply shrugged so he started harassing a sister with a megaphone, she did like the rest, was polite but didn’t give him much to work with. As the crowd approached the cruiser they began to slow down. Everyone was hesitating and looking around. Soon the crowd began asking itself about “who was in charge”. Just then a small group of Wobblies, and Postal Workers came up from the middle and simply walked around the cruiser. Again the tall officer was left staring at everyone as they simply filed past. They repeated the order to get on the sidewalk and the crowd ambled along silently. In fact the crowd began to swell as people from the sidewalks saw this obvious abuse of authority and began to join in.
The whole situation repeated itself at every intersection for the next three or four blocks until the march eventually ended at the intended park. The police parked their cruisers around the rally and watched as it carried on much as it had the whole way along, completely peacefully and largely as if they were not there. There’s often a lot of distractions when you fight for what’s right. The most important thing is that you don’t take the bait and stick to the plan.
A few days later I can’t help but think about election day or the day after these events. On that day I went to the polls by myself and I voted by myself. The NDP candidate, Lewis Cardinal, had a good showing, obviously a lot of people are worried about things like the attack on our freedom of speech we experienced the day before but he did loose. It’s encouraging to see that so many people care about what I do though. However, we didn’t just speak out against the attack on our rights on Mayday, we stood strong and asserted our rights. Even in the face of just eighty of us the police had to stand down, just imagine if there were more of us? Well then we could dream even bigger.