Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wisconsin Workers, Remember: "There Is Power In A Union"



Welcome to another edition of Progressive Music Classics.

As the workers in Wisconsin stand up for their rights, I thought I'd serve up some classic labor music that has inspired me over the years. Although many of us can't be in Wisconsin at the moment, we're definitely with the workers there (and everywhere) in spirit.

In 1986, Britain's Billy Bragg served up his take on the traditional worker's anthem in this track from his classic album, Talking with the Taxman About Poetry.

I saw Bragg in concert back in 1986 at a small club on Greenville Avenue in Dallas. It was a no-frills show: just one man and his guitar--but Bragg held the audience spellbound. It was a welcome tonic for us workers back during the dark, gloomy days of the Reagan era.

There is power in a factory, power in the land
Power in the hands of a worker
But it all amounts to nothing if together we don't stand
There is power in a union

Now the lessons of the past were all learned with workers' blood
The mistakes of the bosses we must pay for
From the cities and the farmlands to trenches full of mud
War has always been the bosses' way, sir

The union forever, defending our rights
Down with the blackleg, all workers unite
With our brothers and out sisters from many far off lands
There is power in a union

Now I long for the morning that they realise
Brutality and unjust laws can not defeat us
But who'll defend the workers who cannot organise
When the bosses send their lackies out to cheat us?

Money speaks for money, the devil for his own
Who comes to speak for the skin and the bone
What a comfort to the widow, a light to the child
There is power in a union

The union forever defending our rights
Down with the blackleg, all workers unite
With our brothers and out sisters from many far off lands
There is power in a union.


Batocchio said...

Right on, brother! The Hartmann piece is also most welcome.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Batocchio, thanks for your kind words.

Jack Jodell said...

That was an outstanding anthem of truth. These radical teabag Republicans must be crushed! I am SO in support of the workers in both Wisconsin and Ohio. This latest anti-union drive spearheaded by the Republican Governors Association is a direct attack on EVERY American worker! It is the most regressive action undertaken yet by that miserable party! IT IS TIME FOR WAR!!!

Jack Jodell said...

What an outstanding anthem of truth! These radical teabagger Republicans MUST be stopped! I am SO in support of the public service workers in Wisconsin AND Ohio. This coordinated conspiracy to kill unions spearheaded by the Republican Governors Association is the most regressive action that wretched party has done in many years. It is an all-ou attack on every single American worker. These bastards must be stopped - NOW. THIS IS WAR!!!

Marc McDonald said...

>>It is an all-out attack on every
>>single American worker

Yes, this sums it all up. The wingnuts today are seeking to finish the process of destroying organized labor that was kicked off by Reagan.

Dr Tim Sandle said...

Great Billy Bragg song as well from an excellent album: Talking To The Taxman About Poetry

Marc McDonald said...

Hi, Tim, thanks for stopping by and for your comment.

Political Fodder said...

I just ran across you blog looking up "There is power in the union" in response to the terrible fire in India that has killed 100+. I see that you were writing in tribute to the people who were occupying the capitol, I was one of those people, I slept there many nights and protested daily for months. I just wanted to say thank you and let you know we are still very active here in WI. As we all now know this fight is much bigger than Wisconsin or the States. This is a fight between the 99% and a small portion of the 1%. Keep up the good work spreading information about our union history, we need to wake up those people who are sleep walking through their lives.

In Solidarity,
Political Fodder

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Political Fodder, thanks for stopping by and your kind words. If you are interested and you'd like to write a piece, giving an update on the Wisconsin situation, please let me know. I'd be happy to run your piece on this blog. Keep up the good work.