Monday, September 5, 2016

Labor Day

Happy Labor Day, the day set aside to recognize the accomplishments of organized labor and the struggles, often bloody and deadly even if they're largely unknown to most Americans, by union men and women that gave you the living standard you enjoy today.

The US Department of Labor's front web page today has the obligatory recognition of Labor Day and a link to a very sanitized history of the day guaranteed not to upset any conservatives and where you won't read this statement, which is from the much better Wikipedia article about Labor Day:

 "Following the deaths of workers at the hands of United States Army and United States Marshals Service during the Pullman Strike of 1894, the United States Congress unanimously voted to approve legislation to make Labor Day a national holiday and President Grover Cleveland signed it into law six days after the end of the strike."

I usually celebrate this day by reading the Labor Day statements issued by New Mexico's Democrats in which these so called Democrats don't even mention the word union. In fact I have never heard one of these jokers utter the word union and this year they haven't even issued Labor Day statements as of this writing. Indeed, I was looking through the archives at one of our Democrat senators official web pages, Martin Heinrich, and I can't even find any of his previous statements about Labor Day. Which is interesting and a reminder that those people are entirely free to create whatever history of themselves that best serves their interests. Long gone from Heinrich's bio, for example, is the story he used to tell about how his mother's union wages were what made it possible for their single parent family to survive. In other words, he'll disrespect the struggles his own mother went through in even being a union member in his conservative home state of Missouri if it serves his interests. A pathetic, weak man this is.

You'll find plenty of statements from him, of course, about the "bipartisan" bills he's backing -- bipartisan meaning half Republican -- as you will on the web sites of Tom Udall, Michelle Grisham and Ben Lujan, the other so called Democrats from New Mexico who are supposed to be representing the interests of the working class by, among other things, promoting unions but are not. They therefore contribute to the declining living standards of Americans that, as Seattle Times columnist Jon Talton pointed out this Labor Day weekend, are primarily being caused by declining union membership, and I might add by the decades long assault on unions by the Capitalist class aided and abetted by politicians like the conservative Republicanish New Mexico variety of Democrat.

Finally, however, there is this statement from New Mexico's Democratic Party Chairwoman Debra Haaland that actually does contain the work union. I've criticized this woman before but on this Labor Day I thank her.

New Mexico – This Labor Day Weekend, Democrats across the state will be honoring and celebrating the contributions the labor movement has fought for throughout the history of our country.
Democrats in New Mexico defeated harmful right-to-work legislation pushed by Governor Susana Martinez and N.M. House Republicans, and continue to work to make it easier for workers, public and private, to exercise their right to organize and join unions.

Note: The graphic I used for this post is the cover of what many consider to be the best history ever written of the US Labor Movement even though it was published in 1931, i.e. Louis Adamic's Dynamite: The Story of Class Violence in America. Which is in print and available at the usual Capitalist outlets but also from AK Press, the worker owned publisher of Anarchist, radical and Socialist literature in Oakland, CA, from which I got my personal copy. Adamic was a journalist but also an Anarchist and a member of the anarchist union the IWW.

The book is also available for free in a pdf file that looks pretty easy to read at Libcom, one of several good Anarchist/Socialist online libraries. ( is another.)

1 comment:

  1. My grandfather was a member of IWW, and is buried in the timber workers cemetery on Laurel Hill near Springfield Oregon. He was a colleague of sorts with Bill Haywood, and we have pictures of the two of them together, along with other IWW members. Oregon, particularly Springfield, was a stronghold of the Wobs. I inherited few of his tendency, but am proud of the heritage.