Friday, July 27, 2012

Poster of the Week

El Pueblo, Unido, Jamas Sera Vencido
The Workers, United, Will Never Be Defeated
Dan Jones
Labour May Day Committee 
Offset, 1980
London, UK

CSPG’s Poster of the Week celebrates worker solidarity, perfect for Labor Day.  The title comes from one of the most internationally renowned songs of the Nueva Cancion Chilena (New Chilean Song) movement, composed and recorded in June 1973.  Just a few months later, on September 11, 1973, a U.S. engineered military coup overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende.  After the Chilean coup, the song became the anthem of the Chilean resistance against the brutal U.S. supported Pinochet regime. El Pueblo, Unido, Jamas Sera Vencido continues to be used in various protests around the world, most of which have no direct connection to the Chilean coup or Latin America. The lyrics have been adapted or translated into many languages.

The poster shows workers from diverse trades and countries holding signs with a variety of demands and slogans including:
  • El Pueblo, Unido, Jamas Sera Vencido  The Workers, United, Will Never Be Defeated
  • Work Not Dole
  • We Require 8 Hours For Work  8 Hours For Our Instruction  And 8 Hours For Our Repose
  •  8 Hour Day 
  • The People's Flag Is Deepest Red, It Shrouded Oft Our Martyred Dead 
  •  Debut D'Une Lutte Prolongee 
  • Pan Trabajo Y Libertad 
History of Labor Day
Labor Day may be over 100 years old, but its history continues to be politically charged and open to interpretation. The observation of Labor Day on the first Monday in September is usually attributed to the Knights of Labor who held their first parade in New York on September 5, 1882. By 1887, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Oregon all celebrated Labor Day on the first Monday of September, and in 1894, the first Monday was established as a Federal holiday in the U.S.

But eight years earlier, in 1889, May 1 was selected as a day to celebrate workers by the Second Socialist International. That date was selected to commemorate the Haymarket Massacre, an important but rarely taught event in U.S. history.  [Haymarket Massacre discussed below]
So the question can be raised, Why does the American worker celebrate Labor Day in September when internationally, workers celebrate it on May 1st  in commemoration of American Martyrs to the labor movement? This question is clarified by the fact that May first is observed unilaterally by workers (not by management), while the September holiday is enjoyed by all, perpetuating the myth that Labor and Management are both working together. The proclamation of Labor Day in September in the United States has been interpreted as an effort to isolate U.S. workers from colleagues around the world, and obscure the history of what Management did to Labor in Chicago in 1886. That said, it is important to know the history of both holidays.  It is also important to note that U.S. workers get far fewer holidays than workers in other industrialized nations.  Whether or not Labor Day was established to deflect attention—and awareness—from the history of May Day, it is still a great time to celebrate workers accomplishments and express labor solidarity.

Haymarket Massacre
On May 1, 1886 demonstrations in support of the 8-hour day took place all across the country.  Chicago's was the biggest with an estimated 80,000 marching on Michigan Avenue, much to the alarm of Chicago's business leaders and newspapers who saw it as foreshadowing "revolution," and demanded a police crackdown.  Over the next several days, police attacked demonstrators and broke up mass meetings.  On May 4, a bomb was thrown by a still unidentified person, and both police and demonstrators were killed by the bomb and subsequent police shootings.  In the aftermath of the event, unions were raided all across the country. Eight labor organizers were prosecuted in a show trial. None were linked to the unknown bomb thrower, and some were not even present at the time. They were held to be responsible for the bomb thrower's act, because their public criticism of corporate America, the political structure, and the use of police power against the working people, was alleged to have inspired the bomber. They were found guilty in a trial, which Illinois Governor John Peter Altgeld subsequently held to be grossly unfair. On June 26, 1894, Altgeld pardoned three who were still alive and in prison; but four had been hanged, and one had committed suicide.           


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