Tag Archives: union

Happy May Day (the real Labor Day)

Solidarity Forever!

Origin of Solidarity Forever:
Tune: “Battle Hymn of the Republic”


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“Solidarity Forever” is the most popular union song on the North American continent. If a union member knows only one union song it is almost sure to be this. It has become, in effect, the anthem of the American labor movement.

Ralph Chaplin, the famous poet, artist, writer, and organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World, wrote “Solidarity Forever” on January 17, 1915. That day, while lying on the rug in his living room, he scribbled stanza after stanza. The idea had come to him earlier while he was in West Virginia helping the coal miners in the great Kanawha Valley strike. Little did he dream then that song would live on after all his other work was forgotten.

Chaplin recalls: “I wanted a song to be full of revolutionary fervor and to have a chorus that was singing and defiant.”

Edith Fowke and Joe Glazer, eds., Songs of Work and Protest, New York, NY, 1973, p. 13.

When the union’s inspiration through the workers’ blood shall run,
There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun;
Yet what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one,
But the union makes us strong.

Solidarity forever,
Solidarity forever,
Solidarity forever,
For the union makes us strong.

Is there aught we hold in common with the greedy parasite,
Who would lash us into serfdom and would crush us with his might?
Is there anything left to us but to organize and fight?
For the union makes us strong.

It is we who plowed the praries; built the cities where they trade;
Dug the mines and built the workshops, endless miles of railroad laid;
Now we stand outcast and starving midst the wonders we have made;
But the union makes us strong.

All the world that’s owned by idle drones is ours and ours alone.
We have laid the wide foundations; built it skyward stone by stone.
It is ours, not to slave in, but to master and to own.
While the union makes us strong.

They have taken untold millions that they never toiled to earn,
But without our brain and muscle not a single wheel can turn.
We can break their haughty power, gain our freedom when we learn
That the union makes us strong.

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.

Joe Hill

Sunday marks the shooting death in Salt Lkae City of Joe Hill

Joe Hill "Remember" Cartoon
 Hill is remembered as a staunch member of the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.)
I.W.W. Poster 
The Wobblies were part of an era of social, economic and political uncertainty in the United States and the world. The I.W.W. was a more radical extention of movements challenging the existing order, including Socialists, Progressives and Populists. 
Hill is best known for his songs:

One thing is certain. If Hill was not on the lines in person, he was there in the form of song.

Drawing on his lifelong love of music, fashioned around self-taught abilities on the piano, guitar and violin, Hill authored a stream of songs aimed a firing up the poorest workers in America. His songs decried “bosses” and “scabs” and extolled the virtues of workers organizing in One Big Union to fight for their rights. His songs soon became a fixture in the I.W.W.’s Little Red Songbook.

“Workers of the World, Awaken!”

Written while Joe Hill was in prison, this song speaks to workers on an international level.

Workers of the World Sheet music


Workers of the world, awaken!
Break your chains, demand your rights.
All the wealth you make is taken
B y exploiting parasites.
Shall you kneel in deep submission
F rom your cradles to your graves?
Is the height of your ambition
To be good and willing slaves?

Arise, ye prisoners of starvation!
Fight for your own emancipation;
Arise, ye slaves of ev’ry nation, in One Union Grand.
Our little ones for bread are crying;
And millions are from hunger dying;
The end the means is justifying,
‘Tis the final stand.

If the workers take a notion,
They can stop all speeding trains;
Every ship upon the ocean
They can tie with mighty chains;
Every wheel in the creation,
Every mine and every mill,
Fleets and armies of the nation,
Will at their command stand still.


Join the union, fellow workers,
Men and women, side by side;
We will crush the greedy shirkers
Like a sweeping, surging tide;
For united we are standing,
But divided we will fall;
Let this be our understanding-
“All for one and one for all.”


Workers of the world, awaken!
Rise in all your splendid might;
Take the wealth that you are making —
It belongs to you by right.
No one for bread will be crying,
We’ll have freedom, love and health,
When the grand red flag is flying
In the Worker’s commonwealth.


“Workers of the World, Awaken!” was written by Joe Hill.

Salt Lake IWW Organizer Training Kick-Off

The Salt Lake City General Membership Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) held its first annual Organizer Traning Conference this weekend at the Salt Lake AFL-CIO Union Hall.

Here are photos from the kick-off event held Friday, April 7th, including music, a panel discussion, and lively discussion.

Tony Roehrig was the moderator of the evening. Tony is one of the original Wobblies of the modern era in SLC. He is a delegate who helped revive the branch in the late 20th centery and has kept the branch active in organizing, educating and agitating.

Scott Fife, Local IWW activist, artist (he painted the art above of Joe Hill), opens up the evening with some labor songs.

Pete Litster, Local IWW activist, performs spoken word.

Meet the panelists for the evening, James Mouritsen, Evan Enns, and Michael Garcia (descriptions below).

James Mouritsen read and explained the preamble of the IWW Constitution. Since taking out a red card on May Day 2003, shortly after returning to the SLC area, James has joined fellow Wobs and radicals planning and carrying out pickets, rallies, Mayday celebrations, soapbox events, and free public film screening son labor and jusice related themes.

Evan Enns explained and spoke to the IWW philophy, history, and current actions. Eva currently serves as secretary/treasurer of the Denver IWW branch. She has been active in organizing since she came to the union through a drive at Telefund, Inc.

Michael Garcia spoke to Wobbly tactics and direct action in the workplace. Michael has been a Wob for the last decade. He has talked up the union at his workplace, Big City Soup, has been able to get many co-sorkers into the union, and has been active in related work.