Today, May 1, we celebrate May Day around the world as a day commemorating the struggles of labor and the working class. On May 3, 1886, several unionists were injured or killed by police during a strike at Chicago’s McCormick Harvesting Machine Company. They were advocating for the eight-hour workday. In protest, labor leaders called for a mass rally at Haymarket Square the next day. After Mayor Harrison left the square—a bomb detonated and police responded with force. Over 100 civilians and police were injured or killed that day.
Today, 137 years later, labor frustrations are settled peacefully at the bargaining table. However, collective demonstrations of solidarity by union members are still necessary to let our employers know that rank-and-file employees need to be listened to and respected. I ask that all of our UAPD members stand up with your colleagues for what you believe in, for what you need to practice safely and effectively in your workplace, for what your patients need and deserve, and for what will keep you happy and not burnt out.
Our collective voices are increasingly being heard outside the bargaining tables. This past month, our LifeLong members picketed the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley to protest unsafe workloads, CDCR psychiatrists rallied and testified in Sacramento over non-competitive wages and oppressive working conditions, and Loma Linda residents held a press conference in LA about the physician suicide epidemic. Our social service doctors in San Diego demanded to know why the State did not timely inform them about their workplace buildings infected with Legionella. We are increasingly speaking up and acting up. We must.
As UAPD establishes new bargaining units across the country in Washington, New Mexico, New York, and Massachusetts, we need to show other doctors and providers what peaceful protest can accomplish. On May Day we must remember our union’s original mission statement, “to enable doctors to give of themselves, unhindered by extraneous forces, for the welfare of their patients.”
Stuart Bussey, M.D., J.D.