Lisa Mednick Powell

Labor Day poetry Blast

Labor Day Bonus from your friend, who is the granddaughter of immigrant sweatshop workers, (this is for Grandpa Sam Schuch who was an IGLWU organizer and shop steward) and who is also a distant cousin of Lev Bronstein - AKA Leon Trotsky. The girl can't help it. She does not like what she sees going on at U.S. workplaces: union busting, layoffs, marginalization, and pay cuts. Remember: YOU CAN'T GET FIRED FOR JOINING A UNION. RETALIATION IS ILLEGAL. (The management will just find some other minor flaw in your job performance and then fire you for that! So stop groveling and start shoveling!) Which Side Are You On? (performed by Pete Seeger) Solidarity Forever (lyrics written by Ralph Chaplin and set to the tune of "John Brown's Body."From the Wobblies' song book.) 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 prairies; 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. Mayn Rue Platz (My Resting Place) is a sweat shop worker's song. This is a nice version of the song translated into English. (you can hear my version in Yiddish and English on my site: Click on 'music' and then 'miscellaneous releases.' ) "It's amazing how people can get so excited about a rocket to the moon and not give a damn about smog, oil leaks, the devastation of the environment with pesticides, hunger, disease. When the poor share some of the power that the affluent now monopolize, we will give a damn." -- Cesar Chavez I think poetry, if it is going to be any good, should move members of all groups, and that is what I hope for. --Frank Marshall Davis