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May Day quarantine kit

Did you know that May Day started as a Celtic festival called Beltane? Here's a deeper look at exactly why:

Which is how it came to be that May Day has deep and important ties to organized labor in the US. (Standard reminder in case you don't follow WWAN on twitter: Never cross a picket line.)

According to "The Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions (which would later become the American Federation of Labor, or AFL) held a convention in Chicago in 1884. The FOTLU proclaimed:

Eight hours shall constitute a legal day’s labor from and after May 1, 1886.

On May 1, 1886, more than 300,000 workers (40,000 in Chicago alone) from 13,000 business walked out of their jobs across the country. In the following days, more workers joined and the number of strikers grew to almost 100,000."

So, the length of your current work day dates back to this day in 1886.

Unions are still closely tied in the popular imagination with men who do hard physical labor. (Maybe that sensibility lingers because of the number of unions with "brotherhood" in their name? Who's to say.)

The three most populous and powerful unions are the National Education Association (NEA), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and the National Federation of Teachers. Collectively, they have over 6.5M members. Most of them are women.

And labor can protect the most vulnerable members of our workforce. The National Domestic Workers Alliance organizes the nations domestic workers—mostly women, largely immigrants and women of color—who are among the lowest paid and least protected workers in the US.

In Out of the Shadows, Lauren Hilgers writes, "The women the N.D.W.A. represents are diverse and scattered. There are more than two million domestic workers in the United States, most women of color and immigrants. They are housecleaners, nannies and health aides working in private homes, a majority making less than $13 an hour. It’s a work force that is extremely heterogeneous, largely invisible and subject to abuses that range from wage theft to sexual assault and outright human trafficking."

(Did you know that when the National Labor Relations Act was passed in 1935, it deliberately and conspicuously left out domestic workers? Read more here.)

Which is why this May Day is also about urging Congress to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. "The measure is designed to make it easier to organize workers by, among other things, forbidding employers from forcing staff to hear anti-union arguments. It also would override state 'right-to-work' laws that allow unionized employees to skip paying dues," according to the Chicago Sun-Times.


  1. "I have always been obsessed with this idea of getting people to care": An interview with Sara Yasin, managing editor of Buzzfeed News from Brad Esposito at Nieman Labs | "I started out in human rights. I started out working for a women’s rights organization that focused on Muslim women ... I’d done my Masters in international development and I didn’t know what it meant to work in an organization. I thought, I guess, that I would be saving the world. And then they were like: Here’s some spreadsheets."

  2. Words Matter: Copyediting as a Process for (or Against) Social Change by Kavita Das | "As Hillary Brenhouse, a freelance writer and editor-at-large of Guernica literary magazine, says unequivocally, 'Words matter. And so, copy editors, when properly employed, have an incredible amount of influence and responsibility.'”

  3. The Hot Person Vaccine by Kaitlyn Tiffany | Especially this whole paragraph: "I asked Anthony Shore, a linguist who develops brand names—perfect job—to help me better understand the Pfizer shot’s appeal. At first, he said, “I have no idea.” Then, two days later, when I called him and asked again, he had some thoughts ... First of all, he said, Pfizer is the name of a person—Charles Pfizer, born in 1824 in a kingdom that is now part of Germany—which could contribute to its “sounding expensive.” Many high-end fashion brands are named after people, like Pfizer (Fendi, Prada, Kenzo), and many are two syllables, like Pfizer (Fendi, Prada, Kenzo). Second, he said, Pfizer is a “cool word” because of the F and Z sounds, which are what linguists call “fricatives.” Fricatives "are really fast-sounding,” which is why you might want to include them in the names of cars, or drugs that are marketed as fast-acting—or vaccines that don’t require you to wait a full month between doses."


  1. This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett | As reviewed in this 2013 NYT piece "An Affection for Books, Dogs, One Tough Nun, and, Yes, a Husband" by Janet Maslin. "Crediting much of what she knows to the luck of the draw, which gave her Grace Paley, Allan Gurganus and Russell Banks as writing teachers, Ms. Patchett presents herself as something of a traditionalist."

  2. The Collected Stories by Grace Paley | In The Getaway Car by Ann Patchett, talking about her former teacher Grace Paley, Ann writes, "Grace wanted us to be better people than we were, and she knew the chances of us becoming real writers depended on it. Instead of telling us what to do, she showed us. ... She taught me that writing must not be compartmentalized. You don't step out of the stream of your life to do your work. Work was the life, and who you were as a mother, teacher, friend, citizen, activist, and artist was all the same person."

  3. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

TV Shows

  1. Covert Affairs | This USA gem features women in power, women taking risks, women in charge of departments and covert operations. Yeah, the place is still overwhelmingly white and male (but not entirely). And Annie Walker's shoes make no sense. But it is pretty much just like Alessandra Staley told you it would be when she reviewed it for the NYT back in 2010, “Covert Affairs is fun and clever and Ms. Perabo has panache in the role. The show has a bad habit of blasting maudlin pop ballads to signal Annie’s moodier moments, but the action scenes — particularly a hotel room barrage of sniper fire in the pilot episode — are first rate."

  2. Mare of Easttown | h/t to Stefani for flagging this one. From the LATimes: How Kate Winslet mastered the near-impossible accent TV fans can’t stop talking about.

  3. Collateral | Carrie Mulligan is always worth your time. Sophie Gilbert at The Atlantic sums it up pretty well: "Collateral swiftly pulls you in with a dynamite mystery, but it soon becomes clear that solving it was never the show’s goal, no matter what viewers might want."


  1. Made You Look: A true story about fake art | Watch this. Definitely watch this.

  2. Rocks | "Here, to be a young woman is to be as steady and immutable as the most ancient of mountain ranges."

  3. Suffragette | Why watch? Well, women's suffrage (this time in the UK). But. Really. Once again it is all about Carey Mulligan. At the time the film came out, NPR said, "The best thing Suffragette has going for it is the performance of its star, Carey Mulligan." Seems to be a theme.

Twitter Follows

  1. Fatima Goss Graves | @NWLC Pres. & CEO; @nwlcaf; Co-founder Time’sUp LDF; lawyer, activist, optimist, runner, mom, sister, friend, wife-not in that order. Views here, all mine

  2. Melissa Murray | Professor @NYULaw; Faculty Director of @bwln_nyu; co-host of @StrictScrutiny_podcast; occasional talking head @MSNBC; views mine. RT not an endorsement.

  3. Olivia Troye | Fmr White House #HomelandSecurity, CT & #Covid Advisor to VP. The truth hurts, but silence kills. Our Democracy matters. #UPenn alum. Director @AccountableGOP


  1. Pai & Mark's Spicy Shrimp Fajitas (with Bunches & Bunches amazing fire roasted chile sauce)

  2. Gilda (perhaps our favorite Basque snack) | Take a cocktail stick, an olive, a salted anchovy and one or two pickled Ibarra chili peppers. And there you have it: the perfect pintxo.

  3. Homemade bbq sauce over crispy oven pulled pork with not your mama's cole slaw. We like the whole thing smashed together on a 460 Bun if you're in a place where you can get one. King's Hawaiian rolls are pretty solid, too. Enjoy.

Unsolicited opinions

  1. We've heard for years that if you just look to the local level, you will find more women in elected office than at the state or federal levels. Spoiler alert: This is a myth. The Center for American Women and Politics released a report on April 29 that details just how grim it is (press release here). Wyoming currently ranks 45th for women in the state legislature. Do you want to take a guess where the Equality State ranks for women in municipal offices? (Here's a hint: The bookies set the line at 45th. Do you want to take the over (44th or better) or the under (46th or worse)?)

  2. Pro-tip: In Wyoming, the smart money takes the under. That's the higher (worse) ranking. Or say you're guessing how long someone who recently relocated to the state for a job might stay. Bet the under. How long will people under 35 hang out? Bet the under. The smart money says that we're not doing especially well at whatever it is we're doing these days vis a vis policy. (If we're not first, there is a decent chance we're vying for last.)

  3. Here's the good news about all that: Infinite room for improvement! The sky's the limit! You can make a difference just by participating! Because we can and should be doing a whole lot better than we are now. And how quickly we improve our situation depends on all of us getting involved.

Were you hoping we'd just tell you how Wyoming ranks for women in municipal offices? We were hoping you'd read the report. But if you guessed 47th, winner, winner, chicken dinner.

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