Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Observations from the Edge 5.1.1

I jumped ahead of a large march heading towards Washington Square Park so I could stop in at the apartment and grab some fresh batteries. There are three large marches moving in different parts of the city including the huge "guitar army march" led by Tom Morello that is marching from Bryant Park to Union Square, right through the heart of Manhattan.

I wanted to get back to the Fox News piece I saw this morning. The theme of the studio chat was that shutting things down is not how Democracy works, that strikes are counter productive. Well I beg to differ because if a worker hasn't the right to strike what right does she have? The right to quit? Mass strikes have happened repeatedly in American history, a small history lesson.

In 1877, during a deep depression and the destruction of trade unions, workers shut down the country’s railroads, factories in major cities, and battled police and militias. They were only stopped when the US Army killed more than a hundred participants.

In 1886, more than 500,000 joined a May 1st strike for the eight-hour day. The movement was broken by a reign of terror that followed a police attack that is usually referred to as the “Haymarket Riot.”  May Day became a labor holiday in honor of the “Haymarket Martyrs” who were tried by a judge so prejudiced against them that their execution has often been referred to as judicial murder.

More recently, in 1970, during the Vietnam War protests, the civil rights movement, and a widespread cultural rebellion, postal workers, teamsters, and others took part in a wave of wildcat strikes, while miners held a month long political strike in West Virginia to successfully demand justice for victims of black lung disease.

For the record, I happen to have an uncle who just happens to be a local union officer but I'm still fair and balanced.

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