For the workers—Together we are strong. Part 1.

Posted: January 11, 2015 in Call to Action, for your reflection, Solidarity, We want justice now!, Workers Unite!

On January 11, workers in Laurence Massachusetts went out on strike in what became known as the Bread And Roses strike. Furbirdsqueerly said in remembrance of that day let us do a musical tribute collage not only to those workers but to all workers. These songs are ones that we gather together from you tube. These songs are not in any order and certainly all of them hold the utmost importance in our lives as workers. Some of the songs we have published on this blog before and some we haven’t. We stand in solidarity with workers everywhere and join in again by saying, Workers of the World unite, all together in the fight. Songs of labor and workers began as workers faced fierce opposition and labor leaders used many informal methods to spread the word, including popular song. Labor songs were used to raise awareness of the workers’ plight, to recruit new members to the cause, and to keep workers’ morale up during a difficult strike or other labor action.

Bread and Roses this version is sung by Judy Collins. We think that it is more of the most beautiful versions of Bread and Roses. This song seems more appropriate than ever. Both for ourselves, and for those desperate workers in the sweat-shops of the Third World.

One of our favorite songs about workers is sung by Dropkick Murphy. All glory to the workers. From here we know the slogan No War But Class War, as spoken so true by comrade Frank Little of the IWW. Yes we sing and say No to the Bosses War. No to their greed. We have more in common with their enemies than with them. Sisters and brothers fight on:

Come all of you workers
Who toil night and day
By hand and by brain
To earn your pay
Who for centuries long past
For no more than your bread
Have bled for your countries
And counted your dead

Come all you young fellers, so young and so fine. And seek not your fortunes way down in the mines. It will form like a habit and seep in your soul, “Til the stream of your blood flows as black as the coal…from the song Dark as a dungeon.

Way Down In The Mines.


The Bells of Rhymney is a song first recorded by Pete Seeger using words written by Welsh poet Idris Davies. This version that we publish is sung by John Denver. The work was inspired by a local coal mining disaster and by the failure of the 1926 General Strike. The song also references not only the bells in churches of Rhymney but also to bells in other areas of South Wales.

? How much of the aristocracy’s wealth was paid for by the slave trade. And those that weren’t, were often built on the sweat and misery of small children working 16 hours a day in dark, satanic mills or down in the suffocating coal mines.

miners-1911 2

Dig The Devils Blood. A Coal Miners Song

workers-unite-1985 2

Basebenzi hlanganani – Workers Unite.

Yeyanina lentshutshiso kubasebenzi bomhlaba?
What is this repression against the workers of the world?

Sayibamba sayidudula imikhuba yabaqeshi
We shall hold and push away the employers’ horrible deeds

Basebenzi hlanganani ngemikhuba yabamqeshi
Workers unite against the horrible deeds of employers

Mine worker Song South Africa: 

This music video is dedicated to those who lost their lives, and their loved ones, during the Marikana Mining Disaster on 16 August 2012 in South Africa and represents the doom and gloom of the world of a miner.

The ukulele sound was introduced to empathize with the daily pendulum movement of miners in the extraction of gold, diamonds and platinum etc. to satisfy consumer demand for luxury goods.

A song about the great troubadour of the IWW, Joe Hill sung by Paul Robeson.

One of the most important lessons workers must learn is the old idea that together we are strong. The strength of Solidarity or simply put the Workers United Will Never Be Defeated. There is Power in The Union was written by Joe Hill and 1st published in The Little Red Song Book. This version is updated and sung by Billy Bragg.

Tom Morello on the line with the workers a true troubadour of these troubled times.

My Crime Being Hungry and Poor: Nina Simone -Work Song.

“Oh, I like my boss, he’s a good friend of mine / That’s why I’m starving out on the bread line.”

This is Alistair Hulett’s version of The Internationale. Often regraded as the Socialist Anthem, this song has inspired leftist movements all over the world in various languages and versions. From France in the late 1800’s to post-revolutionary Russia, to 20th Century South American revolutions. It has inspired the working classes all over the earth to throw off their shackles and fight for freedom. The original French words were written in June 1871 by Eugene Pottier (1816–1887, previously a member of the Paris Commune and were originally intended to be sung to the tune of “La Marseillaise” Pierre De Gevter (1848–1932) set the poem to music in 1888. His melody was first publicly performed in July 1888 and became widely used soon after.

Solidarity Forever :

In our hands is placed a power greater than their hoarded gold,

Greater than the might of armies, magnified a thousand-fold.

We can bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old

For the union makes us strong.

Ralph Chaplin began writing “Solidarity Forever” in 1914, while he was covering the Kanawa coal miners’ strike in Huntington, West Virginia. He completed the song on January 15, 1915, in Chicago, on the date of a hunger demonstration. Chaplin was a dedicated Wobbly, a writer at the time for Solidarity, the official IWW publication in the eastern United States, and a cartoonist for the organization. 

The Preamble of the IWW constitution begins with a classic statement of a two-class analysis of Capitalism: “The working class and the employing class have nothing in common.” The class struggle will continue until the victory of the working class: “Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the earth and the machinery of production, and abolish the wage system.” The Preamble denounces trade unions as incapable of coping with the power of the employing class. By negotiating contracts, the Preamble states, trade unions mislead workers by giving the impression that workers have interests in common with employers.

Yo cuando era nino mi padre querido…The Cotton Pickers Song.

The Picket Sign
Lyrics: Luis Valdez,
Music: Traditional (Se Va el Caimán)
The picket sign, the picket sign
I carry it all day with me
The picket sign, the picket sign With me
throughout my life.
From Texas to California, farm workers are
fighting From Texas to California, farm workers
are fighting And the growers a’-cryin, ‘a-cryin’,
from the strike they’re knuckling under.
A cousin of mine was out
irrigating ditches A cousin of
mine was out irrigating ditches
On one day with Pagarulo, the
next with Zaninoviches.
The picket sign, the picket sign…
There are some who don’t understand
though favored with advice, There are some
who don’t understand though favored with
advice The strike is good for everybody but
some play the stupid fool
They tell me I’m too headstrong, yell too
much and incite people They tell me I
am too headstrong, yell too much and
incite people But Juarez was my uncle,
my father-in-law, Zapata
The picket sign, the picket sign…
And now organizing the workers in all of
the fields And now organizing the workers
in all of the fields Because some only eat
tortillas with nothing else but chiles
We’ve been many years,
fighting in this strike We’ve
been many years, fighting in
this strike One grower bit the
dust, another’s a granddaddy
The picket sign, the picket sign…
(translated by Abby Rivera 1/05)

Standing with the sanitation workers-Memphis Tennessee. Dr. Martin Luther Kings speech, I’ve Been To The Mountain Top.

In Memphis, King invoked Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan and asked people to put their own lives at risk to help others: “The question is not, ‘If I don’t help the sanitation workers, what will happen to me?’ The question is, ‘If I don’t help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?’” For years, King had called on middle-class people, especially ministers, to join the struggle of the poor, and now he infused that message into his support for the Memphis sanitation strikers. He pressed his point home: “We’ve got to see it through. And when we have our march, you need to be there. Be concerned about your brother.” His message was the union message: “You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go down together.” The civil rights leader was supporting a strike by 1,300 sanitation workers, mostly African-American men, who were protesting horrendous working conditions, poverty-level wages, and the refusal of the city to recognize their union. The sanitation workers began their strike in February 1968 after two men who were seeking shelter from the rain were crushed to death in a garbage compacter.  The strike was resolved in mid-April when the city of Memphis finally agreed to give raises to the sanitation workers and to recognize their union.


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