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UFCW gets help from masked man V

Local UFCW members decide this weekend whether to accept Safeway's contract cuts. Who is that masked man? "..where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who's to blame? ... if you're looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn't be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. ... He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent." -V

Support UFCW Local 7, shop elsewhere

UCFW Local 7 workers, the people who look after you at Albertsons, Safeway and King Soopers, may have to go on strike on Saturday in a bid to save their retirement, benefits and hours. As it is they've already conceded to wages and work schedules much worse than yours. Do you support them in this fight? Well, you'll have to figure out where to get your groceries for the next little bit. The more we deny the supermarket chains our business, the shorter the strike will inconvenience us.   Meanwhile however, the search for alternate sources of provisions just might expand your horizons. After you've found natural food, fresher produce, or more variety, the big three will have to offer us more of that to lure us back. There are plenty of more traditional grocery stores in town, specialty, natural and discount, where we could be shopping for our food. Check them out. SPECIAL NOTE: DO NOT go to Walmart, Sam's Club or Costco, because that's who's driving the wages down and giving the supermarket chains the idea that they can treat their workers as terribly. As a rule too, do not use the auto-checkout machines because they are taking jobs from everyone. Alright here's an incomplete list: GROCERS Asian Pacific Market, 615 Wooten Rd, at Powers and Platte India Bazaar, 3659 Austin Bluffs Parkway #35 La Cusquenita, 2031 E. Bijou Rancho Liborio Market, 1660 S. Circle Little Market, 749 E. Willamette Mountain Mama Natural Foods, 1625 W. Uintah New Han Yang Oriental Supermarket, 3835 E. Pikes Peak Sammy's Organic Natural Food Store, 830 Arcturus Dr Seoul Oriental Grocery Mart, 2499 S. Academy Thai Orchid Market, 2485 S. Academy Vitamin Cottage Natural Grocers, (2 locations) 1780 E. Woodman   + 1825 S. Nevada Ave, Southgate Whole Foods Market, 7635 N. Academy, Briargate Whole Foods Market, 3180 New Center Point SALVAGED GROCERIES Extreme Bargains, (3 locations) 3112 E. Platte   + 3190 N. Stone + 2727 Palmer Park Westside Bargain Mart, 3135 W. Colorado Ave Community Market, 56 Park Ave, Manitou SPECIALITY Ceres' Kitchen, 9475 Briar Village Point, Briargate Staff of Life, 65 Second St, Monument Carniceria Leonela, 3736 E. Pikes Peak Ave Carnizeria Y Taqueria La Eca, 216 E. St. Elmo Ave Arirang Supermarket, 3830 E. Pikes Peak Back to the Basics Natural Foods, 2312 Vickers Briar Mart, 1843 Briargate Blvd Carniceria La Trigena, 217 N. Academy Euro-Mart & Deli, 4839 Barnes Wimberger's Old World Bakery & Deli, 2321 Bott Mollica's Italian Market & Deli, 985 W. Garden of the Gods Rd FARMERS MARKETS Nana Longo's Italian Market, 1725 Briargate Blvd Spencers, 1430 S. Tejon St MEAT MARKETS All Natural Meat and Fish Market, 1645 Briargate Parkway, Briargate Ranch Foods Direct, 2901 N. El Paso, Fillmore/El Paso Andy's Meat Market, 2915 E. Platte, Platte & Circle Rocky Mountain Natural Foods, 2117 W. Colorado DAIRY Farm Crest Milk Stores, (7 locations) 4095 Austin Bluffs Parkway   + 5050 Boardwalk Dr + 2105 W. Colorado Ave + 5510 S. Hwy 85/87   + 3945 Palmer Park Boulevard + 2129 Templeton Gap Rd Robinson Dairy, (delivery) 120 S. Chestnut, 719.475.2238 Royal Crest, (delivery) 1385 Ford St, 719.596.1986 BAKERIES Great Harvest, (2 locations) 101 N. Tejon St + 6942 N. Academy La Baguette, (4 locations) 2417 W. Colorado + 117 E.

Safeway, King Soopers want you to scab

COLO. SPRINGS- The notice on the supermarket door reads "Due to a possible labor dispute Safeway is now accepting applications for temporary employment." UFCW Local 7 is predicted to go on strike this weekend. Instead of working toward a settlement, the supermarkets are planning to hire SCABS, which shouldn't be hard in this economy. In the few minutes I was watching, two eager dumbersomethings strode into the store with applications. Hopefully an ugly picket line will raise Colorado Springs' class struggle literacy. "King Soopers will be hiring temporary replacement workers as a precautionary measure due to a potential labor dispute with the U.F.C.W. - Local 7 which may occur on or after May 9th, 2009."

Mother Jones and the children of Ludlow

APRIL 20 MARKS THE 95TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE LUDLOW MASSACRE. From her 1925 autobiography, Mother Jones wrote about the UMWA strike in Ludlow Colorado, over the harsh winter of 1914. From Chapter 21: No one listened. No one cared. The tickers in the offices of 26 Broadway sounded louder than the sobs of women and children. Men in the steam heated luxury of Broadway offices could not feel the stinging cold of Colorado hill-sides where families lived in tents. Then came Ludlow and the nation heard. Little children roasted alive make a front page story. Dying by inches of starvation and exposure does not. On the 19th of April, 1914, machine guns, used on the strikers in the Paint Creek strike, were placed in position above the tent colony of Ludlow. Major Pat Hamrock and Lieutenant K. E. Linderfelt were in charge of the militia, the majority of whom were, company gun-men sworn in as soldiers. Early in the morning soldiers approached the colony with a demand from headquarters that Louis Tikas, leader of the Greeks, surrender two Italians. Tikas demanded a warrant for their arrest. They had none. Tikas refused to surrender them. The soldiers returned to quarters. A signal bomb was fired. Then another. Immediately the machine guns began spraying the flimsy tent colony, the only home the wretched families of the miners had, riddling it with bullets. Like iron rain, bullets' upon men, women and children. The women and children fled to the hills. Others tarried. The men defended their home with their guns. All day long the firing continued. Men fell dead, their faces to the ground. Women dropped. The little Snyder boy was shot through the head, trying to save his kitten. A child carrying water to his dying mother was killed. By five o'clock in the afternoon, the miners had no more food, nor water, nor ammunition. They had to retreat with their wives and little ones into the hills. Louis Tikas was riddled with shots while he tried to lead women and children to safety. They perished with him. Night came. A raw wind blew down the canyons where men, women and children shivered and wept. Then a blaze lighted the sky. The soldiers, drunk with blood and with the liquor they had looted from the saloon, set fire to the tents of Ludlow with oil-soaked torches. The tents, all the poor furnishings, the clothes and bedding of the miners' families burned. Coils of barbed wire were stuffed into the well, the miners' only water supply. After it was over, the wretched people crept back to bury their dead. In a dugout under a burned tent, the charred bodies of eleven little children and two women were found-unrecognizable. Everything lay in ruins. The wires of bed springs writhed on the ground as if they, too, had tried to flee the horror. Oil and fire and guns had robbed men and women and children of their homes and slaughtered tiny babies and defenseless women. Done by order of Lieutenant Linderfelt, a savage,

Mother Jones: You Don’t Need a Vote

After the 1914 Ludlow Massacre and the later capitulation of the UMWA union, Mother Jones, by now 85 years old, toured the US to spread the word about what happened. She wrote in her autobiography, about a meeting in Kansas City: "I told the great audience that packed the hall that when their coal glowed red in their fires, it was the blood of the workers, of men who went down into black holes to dig it, of women who suffered and endured, of little children who had but a brief childhood. 'You are being warmed and made comfortable with human blood' I said. ... 'The miners lost,' I told them, because they had only the constitution. The other side had bayonets. In the end, bayonets always win.'" From The Autobiography of Mother Jones, Chapter 22: YOU DON'T NEED A VOTE TO RAISE HELL. Five hundred women got up a dinner and asked me to speak. Most of the women were crazy about women suffrage. They thought that Kingdom-come would follow the enfranchisement of women. "You must stand for free speech in the streets," I told them. "How can we," piped a woman, "when we haven't a vote?" "I have never had a vote," said I, "and I have raised hell all over this country! You don't need a vote to raise hell! You need convictions and a voice!" Some one meowed, "You're an anti!" "I am not an anti to anything which will bring freedom to my class," said I. "But I am going to be honest with you sincere women who are working for votes for women. The women of Colorado have had the vote for two generations and the working men and women are in slavery. The state is in slavery, vassal to the Colorado Iron and Fuel Company and its subsidiary interests. A man who was present at a meeting of mine owners told me that when the trouble started in the mines, one operator proposed that women be disfranchised because here and there some woman had raised her voice in behalf of the miners. Another operator jumped to his feet and shouted, 'For God's sake! What are you talking about! If it had not been for the women's vote the miners would have beaten us long ago!'" Some of the women gasped with horror. One or two left the room. I told the women I did not believe in women’s rights nor in men's rights but in human rights. "No matter what your fight," I said, "don't be ladylike! God Almighty made women and the Rockefeller gang of thieves made the ladies. I have just fought through sixteen months of bitter warfare in Colorado. I have been up against armed mercenaries but this old woman, without a vote, and with nothing but a hatpin has scared them. "Organized labor should organize its women along industrial lines. Politics is only the servant of industry. The plutocrats have organized their women. They keep them busy with suffrage and prohibition and charity."

What became of Ludlow DEATH SPECIAL

One of the weapons deployed against the striking miners of Ludlow, was an early armored car nicknamed the "Death Special." Its steel plated sides emboldened mine guards to run their mounted machine gun through the union camps. What became of the intimidating machine? Does it sit in a prairie museum, or was its metal armor recycled? Recycled, definitely. The Death Special was improvised by the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency who were the hired strike-breakers, and built at CF&I's own steel works to use against its striking employees. At Ludlow the steel-plated vehicle was driven alongside and through the tent colony, its searchlight used to harass the sleeping strikers. Its guns took shots at the tents which left haphazard victims killed or maimed. World Wars One and Two produced many armored vehicle designs, but the Baldwin-Felts model was unique for being a civilian model. You can recognize its lines in the modern urban assault vehicles which metropolitan police departments have determined to arm themselves, in the war against what, meth-lab pill-boxes? No, these armored police cars are deployed against public protest, in the name of riot-control. By their paint jobs, neither camouflage nor emergency neon, they are obviously intended to intimidate. If the Baldwin-Felts and Pinkertons are going to reinvent themselves as Blackwater and Triple Canopy, why not also their weapons of choice? This one was used to mark the line over which the A.NS.W.E.R. marchers were not to cross, when they marched against the Pentagon and its weapons suppliers in Washington DC. This vehicle was bought by the Aurora Police Department, out of the $50 million allocated to Denver for security for the 2008 DNC. Notice on its intimidating black sides, it says "Emergency Rescue." Here it is aimed at you. St. Paul at the RNC. Denver.

Ludlow Massacre or unhappy incident?

COLORADO COLLEGE- CC is holding a symposium on the 1914 Ludlow Massacre. Actually, it's only called the Ludlow Symposium. True to Colorado Springs form, several among the audience want to call it an "incidence," instead of a "massacre." One of the participants, author Scott Martelle, is willing to oblige, explaining that if the militia hadn't known that women and children were taking shelter beneath the tents which they were putting to the torch, then the soldiers were guilty only of criminally negligent homicide. (*Note 4/12/09: this article has been revised in light of helpful comments offered by symposium participants. Also: Differences of opinion aside, I am remiss if I do not praise the scholars who were very generous with their time and encyclopedic memories to enrich this symposium. 1. CC's own Professor David Mason authored an evocative narrative of lives caught up in the 1914 events, written in verse, entitled Ludlow. 2. Journalist Scott Thomas researched the most recent definitive account to date, the 2007 Blood Passion: the Ludlow Massacre and Class War in the American West. 3. Thomas Andrews, Associate Professor at CU Denver, enlarged the context in 2008 with his award winning Killing For Coal: America's Deadliest Labor War. 4. Zeese Papanikolas represented his authorative Buried Unsung: Louis Tikas and the Ludlow Massacre, written in 1984.) Does it matter what it's called, or with what certainty? The symposium is filled with public school system educators looking for an angle with which to approach Ludlow with their kids. One of them expresses her doubt about teaching about Mother Jones, having just heard from the panelists a probably too-nuanced assessment of the labor hero's tactics. The political climate of our age can't find any purchase with moral nuance. I'm stuck thinking that in recording social history, scholars cannot avoid writing the victor's narrative. In particular as regards the history of labor, because neither academics nor even middle class hobbyists in the symposium's audience can look at the events from the perspective of the working class. Even the scholar's objectivity is middle class. The opinion was expressed by the panel that the Ludlow aftermath was one of the few occasions when the story was spun to the benefit of labor interests. But this does not account for why authors and educators find themselves having to resurrect the tale of Ludlow these many years later. When it occurred, Americans may have swallowed the hyperbole, but since that time they've internalized its internment, effaced by a corporate culture so as to have disappeared from even our school textbooks. I think this may have been something of the question posed by symposium organizer Jaime Stevensen to the panel, when she asked how the authors insulated themselves from the fictions woven into their own perspectives of history. She didn't get any takers. The very concept that history adds up to only so much trivial pursuit, is inherently a view from the ivory tower. Do the Ludlow scholars not recognize that common people today face the same foes

Protesting unfair labor at GE Johnson

COLORADO SPRINGS- For nine months now Carpenters Union Local 515 has been protesting GE Johnson's use of Spacecon subcontractors who misclassify workers to substantially evade labor costs. Everyday, union members like Jose Cano man this banner at Cascade Avenue, between Bijou and Kiowa, with no end in sight.

Turbine industry wants young new wife

Alternative energy ventures, through the efforts of their lobbyists, can't find the workforce they need in Ohio. While the area boasts one of the nation's highest unemployment rates, many of those workers are from the decimated steel industry. NPR Morning Edition reported yesterday that would-be wind turbine manufacturer Rotek Inc, for example, doesn't agree that United Steel Workers Union members are right for the job. Unions assert that the jobs aren't offering sufficient wages. NPR uncritically countered that "The starting salary with benefits at many wind turbine plants in Ohio can range to $30,000 a year." The NPR report left the impression that manufacturers wanted to move into the alternative energy field, but were being thwarted by the unreasonable expectations of US labor. This may be true. But an industry promising new poor jobs is no gift horse. Shouldn't workers look it in the mouth before entrusting futures, communities and livelihoods to it? NPR's Julie Grant summarized the manufacturer objections with, thankfully, a some-people-say type attribution: "the new companies, the ones already making part for wind turbines, say they don't want burned out workers with low morale. What they need are workers open to spending a couple of years in training, who can think on their feet, and are excited to be part of the new economy they' re helping to create." The "new economy they're helping to create?" Would that be the new economy placing the employee as being working poor? What would a radio reporter herself think of a job that requires two years of training, at the employee's expense, to yield a $30K salary? The workforce in question are already experienced steelworkers. The wind turbine jobs are steel manufacturing jobs. They're not looking for high tech design positions. Lobbyist group the Apollo Alliance, which NPR labeled a Clean Energy think tank, suggests the government should subsidize the training period. So here I believe is the crux of what alternative energy investors are after. We can't argue that low wages are here to stay. America's new economy will no longer support the upward middle class American Dream of the Baby Boomers. So factory workers are going to work for half the pay, if they want work at all. But do they need to be trained to do it? The wind turbine manufacturing industry is suggesting that its labor force needs two years of training, paid for by the US taxpayer. Does that make sense to you? You get the bill, the workers get subsistence wages, and the factory owners get free labor. For two years. Likely employees are not going to stick around for the promise of $30K/yr, so the two year transitions will last as long as the government subsidies allow. Industrialists are always looking for low wage workers, even slave labor, when they can. NPR cited the example of Rotek Inc. "Rotek one of 75 companies here that have started making parts for wind turbines." The report mentions an $80 million investment, but implies that Rotek is a startup that requires subsidies,

Vote NO on 40s, YES on upper 50s

A voting guide for the proposed amendments to Colorado's constitution? Sooner than vote NO on all the initiatives on the ballot this year, oppose all those in the 40s and support those numbered in the upper 50s (rounding up on 5 leaves YES on 55-59). On the others follow your whim. For the record, Amendment 46 would kill Affirmative Action, A-48 could outlaw the contraceptive pill, and A-47 & A-49 would hinder Colorado workers' ability to organize. These ballot initiatives must be stopped. A-55 through A-59 are sound spending priorities.

US Labor Day turned into an extra day to shop for crap at Walmart

...The US Labor Movement is in shambles and is no force at all in the economic life of this country. This is as a result of having a group of labor union heads totally tied to the Democratic Party and co-opted by big business since the post World War 2 era. What was created by radicals amongst the working class way back in the '30s has been thrown away, and today US Labor Day is nothing more than another day when workers go to Walmart. Labor 'solidarity' has now been reduced to voting for the likes of Barack Obama and Joe Biden and praying that one does not lose the small equity one might have on a home or a car. It's a sad day for the workers of America who face illness and old age with shredded full of holes retirement and medical care plans. Brother can you spare a dime? has been changed to 'Brother can you spare a Hundred? My car ran out of gas and we got nothing to eat.' Labor buys nothing more than poverty for so many.

Business unionism’s dead end

Each year in the US, the labor unions get smaller and weaker. What is the cause of this since life is certainly not getting easier for the working class of our country? Will the unions finally just evaporate into thin air? At this time they are providing about ZERO protection for the population from the corporations and their corporate run government. In this blog we have talked at some length about the problems of 'Peace' organizations run as small businesses rather than as democratic community organizations opposed to war. We have the same phenomena in the Labor Movement and with the same results which are the demobilization of people rather than their mobilization. Organizations with small paid office staffs that separate themselves from the people they supposedly are serving lead to organizations that do not inspire people to move themselves. Why should they? They have no control over the organizations they are in. Apathy, disinterest, and demobilization results. We also have to factor in the corporate control over trade unions themselves, which is achieved through the Democratic Party. Once again, this process parallels what happens with the "peace' groups run by paid office types. In both types of organizations, trade union and 'Peace', the Conservatives office milieu that is cultivated by business models of organization see themselves a lobbyists, and lobbyists to the politicians. That becomes their principle focus. These types often talk about 'speaking truth to power', but what they mean is that they should spend all their time in some form of lobbying of Democratic Party politicians. As a result, demonstrations and independent organizing are deliberately kept from happening, and excess value is given to hobnobbing with the corporate press currying 'reporting' and visiting the offices of political insiders with pleas in hand. This is activity that is seen as needing paid organizers separate from community control, whose folk are only seen as potentially messing up this lobbying effort. This method of using business models inside community organizations has paralyzed the antiwar movement, and has beaten down the Labor Movement into non-existence. Ads a result, unions can hardly be found any where actually engaging in organizing. In fact, they can hardly be found in actually hanging on to the membership that is left. What it will take is a completely different model of organization to ever be able to rebuild these organizations. That is not presently on the scene and it will not occur in an easy manner, but will require much sacrifice and effort. BTW, that foto of workers at the head of this column is taken from a day labor company site. These are some of the many workers abandoned by business unionism's failed model of unionism.

July 5 protest Starbucks unfair labor

The IWW Starbucks Workers Union has declared a Global Day of Action to protest Starbucks' anti-union termination. According to their press release: Coordinated Actions Across the U.S., Europe, and Latin America Could Be Largest Ever Against Coffee Chain. Grand Rapids , MI ( 06-30-2008 )- Union members and social activists are gearing up for what may be the largest, global coordinated action against Starbucks ever. Protesters will decry what they see as an epidemic of anti-union terminations by the world’s largest coffee chain. Starbucks and its CEO Howard Schultz have exhibited a pattern of firing outspoken union baristas ever since the advent of the IWW Starbucks Workers Union (SWU) in 2004 and are demonstrating the same practice against the CNT union in Spain. "On July 5th people around the world will show Starbucks that we, baristas along with our supporters, will have a voice and Starbucks discrimination and repression of our efforts will not go unchecked," said Cole Dorsey, a fired Starbucks barista and a member of the SWU. ...Actions against Starbucks will take place in: Argentina, Chile, the British Isles, Italy, Japan, Norway, Serbia, Poland, Slovakia, 4 cities in Spain, 6 cities in Germany. In the US: Phoenix, Philadelphia, Grand Rapids, Boston, Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles.

The community service chain gang

Involuntary roadside workers may not be as conspicuous as when they wore the stripes of yore, but they're there. You thought those bright orange vests belonged to Parks and Rec personnel? Often they are citizens repaying a debt to society. More specifically, a sweat equity forfeiture to the sheriff. Municipal courts and prosecutors levy community service hours as a penalty for misdemeanors. While we might envision "community service," as lauded recently by Barack Obama, as helping a charity for example, or doing social work, in reality it's whatever the local government needs done on the cheap. They pay the private agency which validates your hours, you work for free. While municipal courts, and the traffic tickets that drive them, serve chiefly as cash registers for the local administrators, one can easily imagine the growing incentive to harvest unpaid labor for services that require work. These are jobs that could be going to union laborers, or landscaper contractors. Instead the burden is being put on the common citizen, usually the ones least able to fend off the arbitrary enforcement of law. In the age of electronic ankle bracelets, work-release programs, and house arrest, there's no need for striped coveralls and chains. Bring your own leather gloves and sunscreen and put your shoulder to the facade of our healthy looking community. It's becoming a prison planet without us really seeing it. Wages are shrinking, the cost of living rises, the pursuit of happiness dissipates, and you're throwing your back and your dignity into tasks that once upon a time you would have proclaimed were why we all pay taxes.

Eugene V. Debs “When I shall fight”

I am not opposed to all war, nor am I opposed to fighting under all circumstances, and any declaration to the contrary would disqualify me as a revolutionist. When I say I am opposed to war I mean ruling class war, for the ruling class is the only class that makes war. It matters not to me whether this war be offensive or defensive, or what other lying excuse may be invented for it, I am opposed to it, and I would be shot for treason before I would enter such a war. Capitalists' wars for capitalist conquest and capitalist plunder must be fought by the capitalists themselves so far as I am concerned, and upon that question there can be no compromise and no misunderstanding as to my position. I have no country to fight for; my country is the earth; I am a citizen of the world. I would not violate my principles for God, much less for a crazy kaiser, a savage czar, a degenerate king, or a gang of pot-bellied parasites. But while I have not a drop of blood to shed for the oppressors of the working class and the robbers of the poor, the thieves and looters, the brigands and murderers whose debauched misrule is the crime of the ages, I have a heart-full to shed for their victims when it shall be needed in the war for their liberation. I am not a capitalist soldier; I am a proletarian revolutionist. I do not belong to the regular army of the plutocracy, but to the irregular army of the people. I refuse to obey any command to fight from the ruling class, but I will not wait to be commanded to fight for the working class. I am opposed to every war but one; I am for the war with heart and soul, and that is the world-wide war of social revolution. In that war I am prepared to fight in any way the ruling class may make necessary, even to the barricades. There is where I stand and where I believe the Socialist Party stands, or ought to stand, on the question of war. -- Eugene V. Debs, When I Shall Fight - Appeal to Reason (September 11, 1915)

SEIU July 17 protest of private equity

Join the Service Employees International Union, Move-On and Amnesty International to demonstrate for tax reform to curb abuse by private equity firms and buyout barons raiding our jobs and economy.

We have fed you all for a thousand years

  Here's an old labor anthem, addressed to the idle rich who claim the fruit of other men's labor. To whom belongs the wealth generated by work? We have fed you all for a thousand years We have fed you all for a thousand years And you hail us still unfed, Though there's never a dollar of all your wealth But marks the workers' dead. We have yielded our best to give you rest And you lie on crimson wool. Then if blood be the price of all your wealth, Good God! We have paid it in full! There is never a mine blown skyward now But we're buried alive for you. There's never a wreck drifts shoreward now But we are its ghastly crew. Go reckon our dead by the forges red And the factories where we spin. If blood be the price of your cursed wealth, Good God! We have paid it in! We have fed you all a thousand years- For that was our doom, you know, From the days when you chained us in your fields To the strike a week ago. You have taken our lives, and our babies and wives, And we're told it's your legal share, But if blood be the price of your lawful wealth, Good God! We bought it fair! And for good measure, from Finian's Rainbow: When the Idle Poor Become the Idle Rich When the idle poor become the idle rich. You'll never know just who is who, or who is which. Won't it be rich? When everyone's poor relative becomes a 'Rockefellative', And palms no longer itch. What a switch! When we all wear ermine and plastic teeth How will we determine who's who underneath? And when all your neighbors are upper class, You won't know your 'Joneses' from your 'Ass-tors' Let's toast the day The day we drink that drinky up, but with a little pinkie up. The day on which the idle poor become the idle rich When a rich man doesn't want to work He's a bon vivant. Yes, he's a bon vivant. But when a poor man doesn't want to work, He's a loafer, he's a lounger, He's a lazy good for nothing, he's a jerk! When a rich man loses on a horse Isn't he a sport, oh isn't he a sport? When a poor man looses on a horse He's a gambler, he's a spender, He's a low life, he's a reason for divorce! When a rich man chases after dames He's a man about town, a man about town. But when a poor man chases after dames He's a bounder, he's a rounder, He's a rotter, and a lot of dirty names! When the idle poor become the idle rich You'll never know just who is who or who is which. No one will see the Irish or the Slav in you 'Cause when you're on Park Avenue, Cornelius and Mike, look alike When poor Tweedle Dum is rich Tweedle Dee This discrimination will no longer be. When we're in the dough and off of the nut You won't know your banker from your but...ler. Let's make the switch. With just a few annuities, we'll hide these incongruities With clothes from Abercrombie-Fitch When the idle poor become the idle rich!

Lucy Parsons and the call for class war

The death of Utah Phillips reminded me of a favorite story he would tell about the Haymarket widow Lucy Parsons. Shoot or Stab Them was advice that got the anarchist agitator arrested whenever she tried to speak in public. Lucy's husband was among those anarchists framed and executed for the infamous 1886 Haymarket bombing. Lucy continued to advocate for labor rights and social change. Here's how Utah told the rest of the story: Lucy lived well up into this century, well into this century, died in 1940. One time, she was speaking at a big May Day rally back in the Haymarket in the middle 1930s, she was incredibly old. She was led carefully up to the rostrum, a multitude of people there. She had her hair tied back in a tight white bun, her face a mass of deeply incised lines, deep-set beady black eyes. She was the image of everybody's great-grandmother. She hunched over that podium, hawk-like, and fixed that multitude with those beady black eyes, and said: "What I want is for every greasy grimy tramp to arm himself with a knife or a gun and stationing himself at the doorways of the rich shoot or stab them as they come out." Lest her zeal need a little explaining, Lucy Parsons made this declaration at the founding convention of the IWW in 1905: "Never be deceived that the rich will permit you to vote away their wealth." Very little remains of the pamphlets which Parsons published over the course of her life. The authorities considered her "more dangerous than a thousand rioters." They blocked her entrance to public halls and arrested her whenever she addressed a crowd. When Parsons died, the police confiscated and destroyed her library and papers. A number of websites have emerged to celebrate Lucy Parson's legacy. Would it be racist of me to suggest that a book entitled FIFTY BLACK WOMEN WHO CHANGED AMERICA should have mentioned Lucy Parsons at least in the index? The list complied by author Amy Alexander included Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Florence Griffith Joyner. A short biography of Lucy Parsons is reprinted at Red Robin's Red Channels, Left Links, and Proletarian Places. There's also the Lucy Parsons Project. Her essay on "The Principles of Anarchism" is archived at LucyParsons.org. An oratory class at the University of Washington includes Parsons' infamous call to arms: Lucy E. Parsons, "To Tramps," Alarm, October 4, 1884. (Also printed and distributed as a leaflet by the International Working People's Association.) TO TRAMPS, The Unemployed, the Disinherited, and Miserable. A word to the 35,000 now tramping the streets of this great city, with hands in pockets, gazing listlessly about you at the evidence of wealth and pleasure of which you own no part, not sufficient even to purchase yourself a bit of food with which to appease the pangs of hunger now knawing at your vitals. It is with you and the hundreds of thousands of others similarly situated in this great land of plenty, that I wish to have a word. Have you not worked hard all your life, since

David Rovics on death of Utah Phillips

Utah Phillips died Friday. Friends have circulated a May 14th letter he'd sent. The Salt Lake Tribune reprinted a great interview from 2005. And fellow performer David Rovics forwarded this remembrance: I was watching my baby daughter sleep in her carseat outside of the Sacramento airport about ten hours ago when I noticed a missed call from Brendan Phillips. He's in a band called Fast Rattler with several friends of mine, two of whom live in my new hometown of Portland, Oregon, one of whom needed a ride home from the Greyhound station. I called back, and soon thereafter heard the news from Brendan that his father had died the night before in his sleep, when his heart stopped beating. I wouldn't want to elevate anybody to inappropriately high heights, but for me, Utah Phillips was a legend. I first became familiar with the Utah Phillips phenomenon in the late 80's, when I was in my early twenties, working part-time as a prep cook at Morningtown in Seattle. I had recently read Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, and had been particularly enthralled by the early 20th Century section, the stories of the Industrial Workers of the World. So it was with great interest that I first discovered a greasy cassette there in the kitchen by the stereo, Utah Phillips Sings the Songs and Tells the Stories of the Industrial Workers of the World. As a young radical, I had heard lots about the 1960's. There were (and are) plenty of veterans of the struggles of the 60's alive and well today. But the wildly tumultuous era of the first two decades of the 20th century is now (and pretty well was then) a thing entirely of history, with no one living anymore to tell the stories. And while long after the 60's there will be millions of hours of audio and video recorded for posterity, of the massive turn-of-the-century movement of the industrial working class there will be virtually none of that. To hear Utah tell the stories of the strikes and the free speech fights, recounting hilariously the day-to-day tribulations of life in the hobo jungles and logging camps, singing about the humanity of historical figures such as Big Bill Haywood, Joe Hill or Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, was to bring alive an era that at that point only seemed to exist on paper, not in the reality of the senses. But Utah didn't feel like someone who was just telling stories from a bygone era -- it was more like he was a bridge to that era. Hearing these songs and stories brought to life by him, I became infected by the idea that if people just knew this history in all its beauty and grandeur, they would find the same hope for humanity and for the possibility for radical social change that I had just found through Utah. Thus, I became a Wobbly singer, too. I began to stand on a

National Day of Prayer versus May Day

A billion years to raise the tree frog   A hundred million years of lovers curling against each other in sleep   Half a million years of campfire sparks ascending to the stars   Twenty-one centuries since Spartacus and his fellow slaves brought Rome to its knees   Two centuries since the Luddites demonstrated the proper treatment of workplace technology   One hundred and twenty years since the Chicago government used the Haymarket disturbance to justify the execution of seven innocent men: "Hang these men and you kill Anarchy in this country!" A century since anarchist Leon Czolgosz proved them wrong by assassinating President William McKinley Eighty years since Henry Ford tried to buy off workers with the weekend Sixteen years since the rioters of Los Angeles showed what it takes to get justice in this country Eight and a half years since the WTO protests shattered plate glass in Seattle and complacency across the world One day to gather in our communities, to celebrate the coming of spring and the potential of resistance Counting the days to our next chance to make history Eleven weeks to the international day of action against climate change called to coincide with the G8 meetings in Russia* Eight months to plan unpermitted marches and rowdy street parties for New Year's Eve Nine months to prepare a surprise for the next Presidential Inauguration A decade to establish radical social centers and free schools in every community Twenty years to explore everything that can be accomplished while wearing a mask A generation to replace grocery stores with gardens and cough syrup with licorice root A century for dairy cows and toy poodles to go feral Five hundred years to melt down cannons into wine goblets, water pipes and sleigh bells A millennium for the dandelions growing out of the sidewalk to become redwoods ...and the rest of eternity to enjoy (*Adapted from Crimethinc, MAYDAY 2006)

May Day

On May 1st, 2008 the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) will stop-work for eight hours at all West Coast docks to protest the continued US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Transport and postal workers are joining in. A similar action last year in Australia led to violence. A 2003 antiwar dock worker protest in Long Beach met with unprecedented police brutality.

Obama offers unfunded fellowships

The post-primary assistants Obama will be requiring in the field, which he is christening FELLOWSHIPS, are unpaid positions. Unpaid Fellowships. Perhaps Obama means to say apprenticeships or internships. Are those terms too vocational? To exploitive? So much for Obama's respect for Labor. Academic fellows are paid out of an endowment, or directly by scholarships. Medical Fellowships are just plain paid. Obama plans to impart his political journeymen expertise to his field canvassers. Every campaign has. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose. In the grassroots world they are called volunteers.   Accepting the indignity of political advocacy subsidized by your family, is Obama going to create grassroots, or grass tentacles? Consider the rise of MoveOn. The phenomenon mobilizes "grassroots" but all discretion to act flows from above. Obama will call that mentorship.

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