MayWorks, the annual month-long celebration of workers’ culture and history first organized in 2012 by Washington’s labor movement, is just two weeks away and you should mark your calendars to attend the many great events planned for May 2013, including many events at the Northwest Folklife Festival on Memorial Day Weekend.
MayWorks has a new website — MayWorksWA.org — that includes everything you need to know, including a growing calendar of events and even a MayWorks 2013 reading list. Here are a few of the highlights (check back at the site as more events are added):
MAY 3-5 — Pacific Northwest Labour History Association Conference in Portland OR — The PNLHA’s 45th Annual Labor History Conference, under the theme “Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future,” will be held in Portland. Click here for the event brochure for event details and locations.
SATURDAY, MAY 4 — MayWorks Kickoff Concert at the Seattle Labor Temple (2800 1st Ave.), 7 to 9 p.m. — Washington YELL presents the MayWorks 2013 Kickoff Concert featuring hip-hop artists RA Scion (formerly of Common Market) and John Crown (with Jasper T. & the Homies), and R&B singer Camila Recchio. Tickets are $12 at the door. Call 206-281-8901 for more information. This all-ages event is sponsored by the Washington State Labor Council, the MayWorks Committee, and the Washington Federation of State Employees Next Wave.
MONDAY, MAY 6 — Deadline to enter the 2013 MayWorks video contest! — Participants will submit 3- to 5-minute films with the theme “We Do the Work.” Winners will receive cash prizes and have their videos screened at the NW Folklife (as well as posted here at The Stand). Submit video contest entries — including the film’s title, filmmaker’s name and union affiliation — to Kamaria Hightower, c/o Washington State Labor Council, 314 1st Ave. West, Seattle, WA, 98119. Entries can be submitted electronically via email but must be in a form that can be transferred to DVD for screenings. The winners will be announced at NW Folklife on Sunday, May 26. For more information, see the video-contest flyer.
FRIDAY, MAY 10 — Women in Trades Conference at the Seattle Center’s Fisher Pavilion, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Many women have never considered career options such as welding, electricity or carpentry, but these opportunities are available, and even more so as baby boomer workers are nearing retirement. This free event is a prime opportunity for women of all ages to meet recruiters and tradeswomen such as carpenters, electricians, painters and bricklayers, then learn about wages and salaries, training and necessary skills.
SATURDAY, MAY 11 — TPP Forum at the Central CO-OP/Madison Market Annex, 2 to 5 p.m. — May 11 is World Fair Trade Day & International Day of Action against the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Find out why the TPP matters to you and what you can do about it at this forum at the Central CO-OP/Madison Market Annex, 1900 E. Madison in Seattle (corner of 19th & Madison).
SATURDAY, MAY 18 — Tacoma Labor History Walks at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. — As part of MayWorks, the Pierce County Central Labor Council has organized these two walks. To participate, meet on the steps of UW Tacoma on Pacific Avenue across from the State History Museum. One walk will be led by State Sen. Steve Conway (D-Tacoma) and the other by PCCLC Secretary-Treasurer Patty Rose. For more info, email Ross Rieder or call him at 206-406-2604.
TUESDAY, MAY 21 — Bill Fletcher, Jr. at the Vancouver Hilton, 5 p.m. — Join Bill Fletcher, Jr., a well-known social movement theorist and activist, for a discussion about the current state of the economy, the labor movement and next steps for rebuilding the labor movement — and America. A former senior staff member of the AFL-CIO, Fletcher is the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum; a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies; an editorial board member of BlackCommentator.com; and in the leadership of several other projects. This event is free and open to the public.
MAY 24-27 — Northwest Folklife Festival at the Seattle Center — Washington Works, inspired by MayWorks, will be the central cultural focus at the festival, which will feature performances, exhibits, panels, presentations, labor folklore videos, films, and demonstrations of craft traditions from a wide range of trades and local communities. Exhibits will include “Images of Labor and Social Justice: The Art of Richard V. Correll;” “Journey for Justice: 223 Years of Asian Pacific American Labor History in the Puget Sound;” and “Men Along the Shore and the Legacy of 1934 (ILWU).” Films will include the documentary, “Shift Change: Dignified Jobs in Democratic Workplaces.” The festival’s Narrative Stage will feature presentations about labor education in Washington State, immigration and work in the Pacific Northwest, “Service With a Smile” by representatives of UNITE HERE and UFCW, the work and history of the IBEW, women in non-traditional occupations, and much, much more.
Check MayWorksWA.org and click on the calendar for the latest, including times/locations for the May 24-27 Folklife Festival events.
BACKGROUND — Historically, the labor movement has been a driving force in the production of arts and culture, both in the United States and throughout the world. Working people have used art and music to celebrate and affirm the many facets of the work they do — on the job, raising children, serving as volunteers and activists in our communities and unions.
But there has been a long-term trend to “professionalize” the arts, and high-tech media has taken over the delivery of our cultural activities and identities. So much so that many of us have become less likely to make the art and culture of our everyday lives — something that we create for ourselves. But as the great songwriter Charlie King wrote — “Our life is more than our work, and our work is more than our job.”
Delegates to the 2011 Convention of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, voted to establish a new tradition called MayWorks to find and celebrate the culture of workers — our art, music, dance, poetry, and stories. Riffing on the theme of “Bread and Roses” to celebrate the centennial of that pivotal strike of 1912, the first MayWorks celebration occurred throughout the state in 2012.
For more information, check out the MayWorks Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mayworkswa. The MayWorks Planning Committee urges those interested in attending or organizing events to “Like” the page and share it with their friends and organizations.
Also, union organizations are urged to help promote MayWorks activities. Here’s how:
Promote the video contest — See last year’s video contest winners, please distribute the video-contest flyer (please use a union printer!), and direct people to the MayWorks Facebook page (see above).
Assign a representative to the MayWorks Committee — The WSLC is looking for more people to help plan and coordinate this year’s events.
Plan a local event — It could be as simple as a labor movie night, or as complex as a reception and concert.
Donate to MayWorks — Your donation will help defray production, performer, and publicity costs for this year’s MayWorks activities. Send your contributions to the WSLC at 314 First Ave. West, Seattle, WA, 98119.
For more information email Kamaria Hightower or call her at 206.254.4913.