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People Patriots vs. Corporate Criminals…

The first national holiday celebrating America’s working class was observed on a Tuesday, September 5th, 1882. It became a federal holiday—Labor Day—in 1894 and is celebrated on the first Monday of September every year since.

(Click on image to enlarge...)

Few lessons are taught on the subject. It took 100 years of class war by gov’t and big business and thousands of deaths for the American working class to even get that far.

From the beginning of the Republic, the US justice system deemed workers who came together for the purpose of “raising wages,” were “criminal combinations,” an early form of conspiracy law.  Commonwealth vs. Pullis (1806).

It was not until 1842, in Commonwealth vs. Hunt, that a court ruled that a union of workers was a legal organization.

As I prepare this morning—Labor Day 2011—to march on Woodward Avenue in Detroit with my old Local #212 UAW, and maybe even listen to Obama explain his compromise-and-surrender policy in the face of open corporate/Republican class warfare, I’ll be recalling other scenes.

In particular, the 1932 Ford Hunger March when armed corporate thugs, police and firefighters with hoses in the sub-zero weather were used to beat and kill protesting workers. But there’s no shortage of such history and worker sacrifice…

1932 Ford Hunger March...

I was blessed to have witnessed a plentiful time in America when after World War-II, with the return of millions of veterans and post-war construction, some 50% of workers were organized along with a far more even distribution of taxes and wealth.

Today, that burden is almost exclusively on the working and middle classes with payroll, state and sales taxes the most regressive, corporations reaping world-history profits, and unions at only 8% of the workforce (somewhat higher for gov’t employees). Small wonder that we’re now in competition for third-world wages and employment.

In 1874, some 1,600 cops, many mounted, attacked thousands of unemployed workers and their families in Thompson Square Park, NYC (East Village).

The workers were protesting for the establishment of a public works program. Abram Duryee, Police Commission, described the event as “…the most glorious sight I ever saw.”

In 1877, striking coal miners, the Molly Maguires, in Pennsylvania were murdered by corporate thugs. Sixteen of the miners, tried by a corporate court, judge and prosecutor (sanctioned by the gov’t) were also “convicted” and hung (by a corporate executioner).

Later in 1877, during a general strike that spread across the nation (the Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1869 mostly by Chinese and Civil War veteran labor), culminated in the Battle of the Viaduct in Chicago.

Corporate goons and federal troops (just returned from massacring Indians) attacked the workers killing 30 and wounding another 100.

But murder and mayhem was also accomplished by many other means, not the least being egregious work/safety and environmental conditions. All of this was directly abetted by the US Supreme Court, which often declares pro-worker legislation to be unconstitutional.

In 1911, 147 women and children were burned to death in the Triangle Shirtwaist Co. fire. Their escape routes in the 10-story building were chained shut to “prevent the interruption of work.”  It was the worst single disaster in NYC until 9/11, 2001.

The Ludlow Monument...

I’ll conclude this list with a brief comment on the Ludlow Massacre. Some 1,200 coal miners struck the Rockefeller and other company mines in Colorado, 1914, for better pay and conditions.

In fact, what little they were paid was in company script, which could only be used of course at high-retail company stores.

In support of the corporations the Colorado National Guard was called out and boarded flatbed railroad cars with rifles and mounted machine-guns.  The train then ran next to the workers and familys’ tent-encampment.

The military gunned down and burned to death some 25 men, women and children. By the time the entire strike was over, which spread far beyond Colorado, some 200 workers and family were murdered.

When I go to the Labor Day march today as a proud working class unionist, I’ll bring along a few copies of (former 30-yr Republican congressional staffer) Mike Lofgren’s Truthout article, “Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult.”

Know this: Corporate conservatives know only one god. And they worship only before the altar of profit to prey for personal wealth, privilege and power.

Dr. Publico

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