August 31, 2020: Polish Solidarity Day in Michigan

WHEREAS, after suffering years of oppression under a communist dictatorship imposed by the Soviet Union  following World War II, Polish workers began a strike and occupied Poland’s Gdansk Shipyards on August 14, 1980; and,


WHEREAS, the Polish people, including students, intellectuals, clergy, and  factory workers, joined in the strike against the government and rallied in support of striking workers; and,


WHEREAS, on August 17, 1980, an Interfactory Strike Committee, established by the strikers and led by Lech Walesa, a former electrician, issued a list of 21 demands to the Communist Government of Poland; and,


WHEREAS, these demands included the right to form free and independent trade unions, a guaranteed right to strike, additional workers’ rights, improved economic conditions of the Polish people, the release of political prisoners, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and media access for people of all religions; and,


WHEREAS, the strikes in Gdansk and other factories in Poland were all carried out in a peaceful manner; and,


WHEREAS, on August 31, 1980, the Communist Government of Poland yielded to the 21 demands of the striking workers and signed an agreement with the workers, known as the “Gdansk Agreement”; and,


WHEREAS, as a direct result of the Gdansk Agreement, the striking workers established the Solidarity Trade Union (known in Poland as “NSZZ Solidarność”'), which became the first free and independent trade union ever established in the Soviet Bloc; and,


WHEREAS, over ten million Poles joined the Solidarity Trade Union, sparking a great social movement in Poland to promote fundamental human rights, democracy, and Poland’s independence from the Soviet Union; and,


WHEREAS, these subsequent social movements resulting from the formation of the Solidarity Trade Union eventually led to the collapse of Soviet dominance of Poland and Eastern Europe; and,


WHEREAS, the citizens of Michigan, particularly trade unions and the Polish-American community, were greatly supportive of the efforts of the Solidarity Trade Union and the people of Poland to rid themselves of an oppressive government;


NOW, THEREFORE, I, Gretchen Whitmer, governor of Michigan, do hereby proclaim August 31, 2020, the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Gdansk Agreement, as Polish Solidarity Day in Michigan.