For The Workers-Together We Are Strong. Part 2.

Posted: January 14, 2015 in for your reflection, From us to you

Workers of All Countries, Unite!

This is part two of our tribute to the workers. This again is a musical tribute appropriation collage in honor of the working class in solidarity against the Capitalist System and the boss. It is presented in the service of the people. We came upon this quote by Joe Hill and being very interested in art workers we publish it here.

“I have lived like an artist; I shall die like an artist.” — Joe Hill

Joe Hill truly an artist of the people. He was able through his songs to collapse the divide between art and life, thus finding art a revolutionary practice. Art in the streets, in the meeting halls, on the corner, where ever the workers gathered there was song. Art that spilled it guts. Helping people along the way to discover their full potential in standing up for themselves, their families and for what is right. Songs help the people fight for their emancipation from the big capitalist, from the goons, from the police and national guard. Joe Hill’s art made us think and with the knowledge and the art we join with workers everywhere in the good fight for our very lives depend on it just as the lives of the members of the IWW’s men, women and childrens did. We at this blog salute artists who find that place where art works dwell in the service of the people.

Now let’s hear some boos and whatever you want to do for here is the low of the low. The Scab.

Let’s hear from Queer, Social Justice singer and songwriter Evan Greer, Picket Line Song Support The Unions.

We Have Fed You All For A Thousands Years, and man we feed you still.

By John E. Nordquist
(Tune: “Annie Laurie”)Parasites in this fair country, lice from honest labor’s
There are some who never labor, yet labor’s product get;
They never starve or freeze, nor face the wintry breeze;
They are well fed, clothed and sheltered,
And they do whate’er they please.These parasites are living, in luxury and state;
While millions starve and shiver, and moan their wretched
They know not why they die, nor do they ever try
Their lot in life to better;
They only mourn and sigh.These parasites would vanish and leave this grand old
If the workers fought together, and the scarlet flag un-
When in One Union grand, the working class shall stand,
The parasites will vanish.
And the workers rule the land.

Study War No More or “War is Hell.” Let the capitalists go to war to protect their own property.

No War But Class War!  (worth fighting for)

Frank Little a IWW organizer, free speech fighter, was a strong opponent of World War I. Little fought hard with the leaders of the IWW to directly proceed with anti-war and anti conscription agitation.  Little said at that time, ..the IWW is opposed to all wars, and we must use all our power to prevent the workers from joining the army.” He later called soldiers serving in the war, “Uncle Sam’s scabs in uniforms.” Wars should be left to the capitalists who start the war. “Either we are for their capitalist slaughter fest or against it.”

No War But Class War…Michael Parenti

Rebel Girl written by Joe Hill and sung by Janne Laerkedahl.

The United Farm Workers

Songs were the life-blood of our work with the Farm Workers Union. There were many times on the UFW picket lines that songs were all that we had. When the growers lined up with their goons and their guns, with their arsenal of political and economic and social power that they wielded without compunction; with their squad cars and their pick-up trucks, and their tractor trailers and the scabs that they had brought from far away; there we stood: we sand. We sang when we were discouraged; we sang when we were angry or defiant;we sang when we were proud; we sang to lift our spirits…Jan Peterson UFW.

Pastures of Plenty written by Woody Guthrie and sung by Odetta.

De Colores sung by Maria Fernando. Kathy Murguia in the book UFW-Songs and Stories Sung & Told by UFW Volunteers has this to say: “Every meeting ended with us joining hands and singing De Colores, which enhanced a sense of community, of being connected in a struggle for justice. We continue to sing it in the decades following those early meetings, during Union events and other gatherings often as a closing. The rooster, the hen, the chicks that sing, the great loves of many colors–these images brought such joy, such pleasure and lastly for those who sang it, such hope. For more on the UFW see our notes. (1 )

“The People here are union. You can’t survive with out it”…Geraldine Blankinship, Flint striker.

75th Anniversary of the Flint Sit down Strike: A UAW Documentary. February 12, 2012


by Floyd Hoke-Miller

Remember when the “Sit Down” came?
And all the papers laid the claim,
Against each Union Member’s name?

‘Twas then the “Big Shots” howled with fear,
“The revolution now is here;
The stand they take is naught but sheer.”

You worked in chains that galled your pride,
And when you tried to save your hide,
The “Bulls” and “Bears” stook up and cried:

The economic ills you feared
And increased crops of “Stools” appeared,
But when you called their hand they jeered:

After 90 days of intense struggle around the seized plants, General Motors gave in. They recognized the UAW as the union representation in seventeen plants. This was the key victory of the entire Euro-American labor  upsurge of the 1930s. It was obvious that if General Motors, the strongest corporation in the world was unable to defeat the new industrial unions, then a new day had come.

“Afrikan workers employed in the industrial economy were concentrated in just five industries: automotive, steel, meat packing, coal railroads. The first four were where settler labor and settler capitalist were about to fight our their differences in the 1930 ‘s and early 1940’s. And African-American labor was right in the middle. A 1929 study of the automobile industry comments:  “As one Ford official stated, “many of the Negroes are employed in the foundry and do the work that nobody else would do. The writer noticed one Chevrolet plant that Negroes were engaged on the dirtiest, roughest and most disagreeable work, for example in the painting of axles. At the Chrysler plant they are used exclusively on paint jobs, and at the Chandler-Cleveland plant certain dangerous emery wheel grinding jobs were give only to Negroes.”  In virtually all auto plants Africans were not allowed to work on the production lines, and were segregated in foundry work, painting, as janitors, drivers and other service jobs. They earned 35-38 cents per hour, which was one half of the pay of the Euro-Americans production lines workers This article further explores the CIO policy to promote integration in certain areas but to maintain Jim Crow situations in many. The skilled craft jobs were maintained for white privilege and the more desirable production jobs and the operation of unions for whites The CIO’s labor policy was consistent with the overall colonial labor policy of the U.S empire. They did not challenge U.S Imperialism rules but rather followed closely those rules”… Settlers: The Myth Of The White Proletariat, J Saki, pages 86-87. (To check out this book on line go to HERE.)

Song From The Cotton Field–sung by Bessie Brown as recorded in 1920.

“all my life I’ve been making it, all my life white folks been taking it.”

Come By Here Lord, Come By Here:   “Come By Here,”is a song deeply rooted in black Christianity’s vision of a God who intercedes to deliver both solace and justice.The lyrics told of people in despair and in trouble, calling on heaven for help, and beseeching God in the refrain, “Come by here.” But in the hands of white liberals in the 1960s this call became the pallid pop-folk sing-along “Kumbaya.” And “Kumbaya,” in turn, has lately been transformed into snarky shorthand for ridiculing a certain kind of idealism, a quest for common ground. As Glenn Hinson a professor of folklore stated, “Yet again, a product of African-American spirituality has been turned into a term of joking and derision. It’s a distortion, and it’s a sad reversal.” “Come By Here” in its original hands appealed for divine intervention on behalf of the oppressed. The people who were “crying, my Lord” were blacks suffering under the Jim Crow regime of lynch mobs and sharecropping. The song is believed to have orginated with slaves living on the Georgia Sea Islands and was an expression of Black Liberation Theology. “The song in white hands was never grounded in faith,” Professor Hinson said. “Its words were simplistic; its tune was breezy. And it was simplistically dismissed.” (2) Yes, Lord Come By Here as we need you more than ever. This is a beautiful version sung by K. M. Williams.

Railroad Gandy Dancers

From Appalachia History, “Gandy Dancers” by Dave Tabler (7 January 2008) — Before railroad work was completely mechanized in the 1950s, railroad calls were an everyday part of the track worker’s ritual. Most of these gandy dancers—the label applied to railway line workers who maintained railroad tracks and kept the rails straight—were African Americans who adapted the work call to railroad work. The term is said to be from the dance-like movements of the spikedriver, plus the name of Chicago-based Gandy Manufacturing Company, who supplied tracklining tools.(3)

The physical movements of these railroad crew members were synchronized by a caller who sang the chants, ensuring safety and pacing while spiritually uplifting the men at their toil. Teams of eight to 14 men worked together to lay or care for the tracks. They had a rich repertoire of songs used for the many tasks required of them. Called lining track songs, these hollers are closely related to shanties. In the poetic words of folklorist Alan Lomax, the songs “sounded so wild and sweet that the mockingbirds in the nearby bushes stopped to listen, [as the] railroad moved into the Southern wilderness.”

Pay us for our work! A demand of workers every where!

Domestic workers lead surprise march on home of millionaire Elyse Slaine

When Will We Be Paid For The Work That We Have Done? By the Greene Sisters.

NO we are not just asking we are demanding. The above photo was taken at a demonstration against Elyse Slaine a millionaire socialite who had refused for 5 months to pay the back wages of Marichu De Sesto. A combative band of domestic workers, backed up by an actual band of musicians from the Rude Mechanical Orchestra, noisily arrived at the doorstep of millionaire socialite Elyse Slaine at 925 Park Avenue for a surprise visit. They were led by Filipina domestic worker Marichu De Sesto, who says she cooked and cleaned for Slaine for 15 years, working long and unpaid overtime hours, only to be abruptly kicked to the curb in May when she requested a day off for a medical appointment. (4)

No Rest For The Weary..Blue Scholars

Legend of John Henry’s Hammer sung by Johnny Cash.

John Henry is an African-American folk hero and tall tale. He is said to have worked as a “steel-driving man”—a man tasked with hammering a steel drill into rock to make holes for explosives to blast the rock away in constructing a railroad tunnel. According to legend, John Henry’s prowess as a steel-driver was measured in a race against a steam powered hammer, which he won, only to die in victory with his hammer in his hand and heart giving out from stress.

Guy B. Johnson, a Professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina, investigated the legend of John Henry in the late 1920s. He concluded that John Henry was a real person who worked on and died at the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway’s Big Bend Tunnel. (5)

Request of Comrade Bernardo:

Midnight Special by Lead Belly. 


The “Midnight Special” is a traditional folk tune about a passenger train that roared past a prison every night.  The singer of the tune dreamed of the freedom that waited just outside his prison walls. Now we are no fools we are not saying that our daily lives of drudgery is the same as being jailed. But you know thinking about it it is a sort of prison life we lead. Yes we  get up each day, go to work, come home go to bed get up go to work are too in a prison of sorts. We dream of the weekend, we dream of our vacations, we dream of holidays and when we get enough guts up we call in sick. We dream to be free. Just to get out of the prison that the capitalist has created for us. Yeah we are held in and back by the sharp barb wire but you know we have a cutting tool. The tool of the workers united.

red-flag 2

One of our favorite songs will end Part 2 of this piece.

The The Red Flag as sung by Billy Bragg. This updated version speaks for our times. We like everything about it. It isn’t slow as the orginial piece  Jim Connell wrote the song’s lyrics in 1889. There are six stanzas, each followed by the chorus. It is normally sung to the tune of “Lauriger Horatius”, better known as the German carol “O Tannenbaum” (“O Christmas Tree”). Yes it did wave above our infant might as it does wave above our infant might today. Now the problem is convincing enough folks that we have to do something about it all and then going out and doing it.


(1) United Farm Workers

(2 ) A long Road from Come By Here Lord, To Kumbaya.

(3 ) Railroad Gandy Dancers

(4 ) Domestic workers lead surprise march on home of millionaire Elyse Slaine. from Liberation News.

(5) John Henry. To learn more about John Henry.

There have been several requests that we continue doing our musical collages in tribute to workers. We will consider it as we look through more songs.


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