Monday, September 03, 2012

Labor Day Link: The Bread and Roses Strike, 100 Years Later

cross-posted from Dagblog

Labor Day is a great day to remember some of the history of the American labor movement. Of course, our leading American newspaper is using the day to lionize Henry Ford without mentioning how fiercely Ford hated the labor movement. So, a little counter-programming:

This year is the 100th anniversary of the Bread and Roses strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts (a place dear to my heart). The strike, and the mill-owners' violence against the strikers and the strikers' families, caught the whole nation's attention. We have spent the last century assiduously erasing these events from our national memory. But follow this link to read about what the good old days were really like, before labor unions ruined everything with their socialist 40-hour weeks, minimum wage rules, overtime pay, and child-labor laws. It's a good chance to read up on what the paradise of the unfettered free market was really like.

A hundred years ago today, the leaders of the Bread and Roses strike were awaiting trial for murder. They had been three miles away, speaking before hundreds of witnesses, when that murder took place. The victims were striking workers. The shots had most likely been fired by strike-breaking police. And you know what? That wasn't even the third-most-outrageous thing that happened.

I'd like to thank the Bread and Roses strikers for fighting to reduce the work-week to 54 hours. And that's just where the list of thanks we owe them begins.

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