Workers of the World — Unite!
We Don’t Have Much More to Lose
Or so we said on May Day in Cincinnati
The American Worker on the Corporate Cross
Friends, I don’t want to be sacrilegious, and actually, I love the Christian story, but I feel that Jesus, if he walked with us today, might say to us, “Hey, they’re stringing you fellows up just like they did me! All you women, all you men, you child laborers, you modern-day slaves — you must wage a great struggle for justice in the world!”
It was the day after May Day that I rode through St. Mary’s Cemetery in Cincinnati and took these pictures. If you happen to be in St. Bernard, you can look for these tombstones on the drive of St. Paul’s. You’ll love it there among the peaceful trees in this eloquent old Catholic graveyard.
And look! On St. Paul’s an angel has appeared — to save a soul from eternal death! Perhaps today WE must be that saving spirit — and avenge all the cruelties being practiced on the people of the world.
May Day in Cincinnati
In Washington Park on May 1 we had quite a rally and then quite a march through downtown Cincinnati! In the park we heard some good and even fiery speakers. They came from the homeless coalition, from the gentrifying neighborhood around the park, from Our Walmart, from Black Lives Matter. We had solidarity songs and theater — and then smart chants and high spirits as we marched through downtown!
The United Food and Commercial Workers sent two lines of staff to us.
And here’s SEIU for our janitors:
Hey, we’ve also got our food workers in action around the country for Low Pay Is not Okay. We’ve got Walmart-ians coming alive, and students on the rise! The United Students Against Sweatshops are tormenting universities and their buying habits and their employment practices, and they’ve won major victories! (Let’s hope U. C. in Cincinnati won’t be the last to wake up!) On the march, btw, we had a local group of Unitarians!
Starvation in Ohio
Hey this is not exactly the revolution, but in my state of Ohio this year, we had a raise in our minimum wage. Isn’t that fine? A raise of fifteen cents an hour. Workers must now get $8.10 an hour!
According to the Economic Policy Institute, raising the minimum wage in the U.S. to a modest $10.10 would improve the lives of 21 million workers. Over 85% of these workers are 20 years old or older, 57% are female, and 39% are black or Hispanic. Pew Research found last month that 73% of Americans support a minimum wage of $10.10 an hour.
You may not know, my friends, that this writer is a member, retired, of a union — the AAUP at the University of Cincinnati. I helped to found that union back in the 70’s, and look — today the right-wing legislature of Ohio wants to destroy it. They wrote about university unions in a recent bill of theirs. They opined that university faculty are not workers but “managers,” and can’t belong to a union! If I might poeticize this issue:
They got so much flack
they took it back!
And that was the saving of our un-une-ion! This time. They’ll be out for us again next time. NO workers need to be organized, says Ohio; and it seems Governor Kasich is fine with that. (He wants to be president, you know.) So we can say once again that there’s more of us than there is of them, and we must never forget it!
Let’s remember the Weavers
In Silesia, the weavers of linen were thrown out of work by German free trade and manufacturing, and no other living was provided them. “Go ahead and start starving,” said the robber barons of the day — ‘too bad, but we can’t help you!” Here you see the weavers’ march of protest in 1844 as drawn by the great artist Kathe Kollwitz. It wasn’t for nothing either — four years later eruptions and revolutions spread through Europe!
Will we all be enslaved, in time, by the global capitalists? When Frederick Douglass, btw, was being taught letters by his Mistress, the Master objected. “If this man learns to read,” he said, “he’ll be unfit to be a slave!” (See a recent book about adult education by Ohioan David Greene — Unfit to Be A Slave. One can read the first two chapters on line for free.)
Friends, what do you think? Can workers unite — ever?