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How Relevant Is International Women’s Day to the Current War on Women? by Geminijen

2:55 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

Today’s diary, a co-production of NY Brit Expat and myself, reposts the historical documents we used last year quoting the words and actions of the “founding mothers” of International Women’s Day. Normally, such a historical tour de force on the anniversary of IWD is presented as a nostalgic commemoration of the struggles working class women waged to achieve the gains we have today. But it can also be used as a cautionary note for our current struggles in the renewed “war on women” and efforts to dismantle the social welfare state (austerity programs). For “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

Yesterday, millions of women marched in the streets from China to Mexico, to celebrate International Women’s Day. If you live in the United States, however, you may have never heard of IWD. IWD officially began in 1911. It was started by European Socialists in the Second International honoring the striking women textile workers in New York City. Due to its socialist origin , however, it was excised from the United States memory, much as Labor Day replaced May Day, except in small immigrant enclaves or radical union groups.

While in Europe and the of rest of the world it continues to be widely celebrated, it has been watered down over the years and tends to honour women in name only, by putting a woman’s face on a male socialist agenda or taking the radical roots out of the holiday by turning it into a facile celebration giving women flowers (yellow roses to symbolize women’s demand for “Bread and Roses” in the early textile strikes – only they’ve eliminated the demand for bread).

During the women’s movement in the United States in the 1970s and 80s, women resurrected the holiday and in 1975 it was given the blessing of the United Nations. When the women’s movement re-appropriated the holiday in the States, it focused on specific women’s rights (i.e., reproductive rights such as abortion) but often at the expense of focusing on issues that would traditionally be the domain of working class women or women of color (i.e., racism, women in sweatshops, etc). They were criticized rightly for being bourgeois.

This week in New York alone, there are any number of IWD events and acknowledgements, including three specifically designated IWD Marches organized by the radical left and socialist movements: the flyer for one mentions a laundry list of different anti-capitalist issues, a couple of women’s issues but does not mention abortion; the second focuses on Abortion on Demand and Pornography; the third focuses on violence against women ranging from domestic abuse to violence in the prison system (my favorite). Didn’t see one slogan re childcare. So the struggle continues.

IWD, in fact, was the culmination of a century of women working in the labor, feminist, socialist, and anti-slavery and segregation movements to bring together the common interests of the working class and women’s rights advocates. Four major trends led to the establishment of IWD:

The first was a revolutionary fervour in Europe and the United States toward socialism, democracy and the vote. In Europe it was exemplified by a movement for working class men without property seeking the vote to further a socialist government. This was paralleled by a movement for middle class women to get the vote. This situation was mirrored in the United States by the struggle to gain the vote for black men and white women. The contradictions between these two types of suffrage movements were evident (should we fight for non-propertied or black men to get the vote, even if women were excluded? Should we fight for women to get the vote even if this excludes people of color or persons who did not own property?). The solution, of course, was to get the vote for both groups. Clara Zetkin was among the early socialists to see working class women as the driving force towards universal suffrage (everyone gets the vote independent of property qualifications to which it had been historically tied) since they bridged the divide, yet retain the principle of a revolutionary socialist agenda.

It was Clara Zetkin who advocated for the merging of the working class socialist movement and women’s movement through the establishment of International Women’s Day as a way to forward the goals of both labour and women. The first clear victories in which the leadership of working class women following the establishment of IWD were the organization of the textile workers and women’s suffrage in the United States and the Russian Revolution in 1917 which began with a massive strike by women textile workers in Petrograde (St. Petersburg) on International Women’s Day against both the orders of the Unions and left-wing political parties. The strikes lit the match of a country on the verge; they doubled in size to 200,000 workers and over the next few days, 66,000 men of the local army garrison joined forces with the strikers. The February Russian revolution began and the Tsar was forced to abdicate (http://www.marxists.org/history/ussr/events/timeline/1917.htm).

The second important factor was the increased numbers of women in the labour movement, particularly in the textile industry, as more and more women were pulled into factories and out of homes with the rise of industrial capitalism. Their struggle to free themselves from the patriarchal home as Alexandra Kollantai noted in 1902 was critical:

“Among the numerous problems raised by contemporary reality there is probably none more important for mankind, none more vital and urgent than the problem of motherhood created by the large-scale capitalist economic system. The problem of protecting and providing for the mother and young child is one that faces social politicians, knocks relentlessly at the door of the statesman, engages the health and hygiene specialists, concerns the social statistician, haunts the representative of the working class and weighs down on the shoulders of tens of millions of mothers compelled to earn their own living [...] The demand that the social collective (the community) provide maternity insurance and child protection was born of the immediate and vital needs of the class of hired workers. Of all the strata of society, this class is the one which most requires that a solution be found to the painful conflict between compulsory professional labour by women and their duties as representatives of their sex, as mothers. Following a powerful class instinct rather than a clearly understood idea, the working class strove to find a way of resolving this conflict (Society and Motherhood, 1915).”

Women’s struggle to obtain decent work conditions in the marketplace, instead of being viewed as cheap labour, is exemplified in the call for both “bread and roses.” The textile strikes beginning in 1857 and the massive strikes between 1908 and 1915 were the activist expression of women’s struggle for power. This was especially true after the horror of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory strike where mostly women workers, but also children and a few men were killed in a sweatshop fire.

While initially the feminist movement focused on human rights issues for women such as suffrage, many of the women felt allied to working class struggles for decent wages and rights and took up the call that freedom and equality for one group meant freedom and equality for all although there were and continue to be disputes as to whether equality means equality or equal opportunity and upward mobility in the capitalist system.

While the anti-slavery movement seems distinct, the end of slavery pushed all workers, black and white into the same labor struggle as wage laborers. Once this occurred, it was up to anti-racist groups to fight for equality within the labour movement. This, of course, always raised the question of equality for the other major group excluded from equality in the labor force — women.

These movements, occurring in a short period between the end of the civil war and the end of WWI, provided the activist and theoretical base to try to unite diverse groups into the revolutionary struggle. The formation of IWD was an explicit effort to unite the interests and theories of women and male labor (including workers of color that was implied in the socialist agenda) under a Revolutionary Socialist agenda in support of universal suffrage and economic equality.

The socialist women during this period who led the fight for dignity for women’s new role in the workforce and the socialization of women’s unpaid labor in the home achieved many social gains in Europe and the United States including free public education, public healthcare and childcare in some places, regulation of working hours, wages and safety conditions and pensions for the elderly. Moreover, women’s struggle for universal suffrage helped achieve gains not only for women but for the working class as a whole, including gains for people of color in the United States.

Unfortunately, many of these struggles were ultimately couched in terms of individual reforms instead of a total change of the capitalist system. At least some of this was due, as becomes clear in the historical documents, to the white supremacy and male chauvinism in the socialist movement and the classism and white supremacy in the women’s movement. As capitalism continues to devour everything in its path – leading first to a Eurocentric Imperialism and finally to Global domination, we have seen these gains receding.

As the textile and garment industry is outsourced to third world countries, it is a bitter irony that the textile and garment workers of Haiti, Cambodia and Bangladesh live in almost the exact same conditions as the women textile workers did here one hundred years ago: 14 hour work days, 7 days a week, unsafe conditions. Only this time the repetition of the horror of the Triangle shirtwaist factory has increased in scale as can be seen in the 1,134 deaths in the collapse of the garment factory at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh.

Because of the mobility of capital under global capitalism, companies facing the threat of strikes can quickly relocate to other locations, leaving workers without a source of survival. For workers, this constant threat of replacement makes fighting for higher standards risky. The call of workers in almost all these countries, including the United States, has shifted from demands for full-time stable well paid union jobs, fought for factory by factory, to political demands that the nation states provide a minimum wage to all workers. There is currently a call for a global minimum wage.

In the United States, with the flight of the textile industry, women workers are now concentrated in the food service industry (another transfer of women’s work from home to the market) where jobs cannot be outsourced. Kollantai’s prediction of the demise of the patriarchal nuclear family under capitalism is coming true. Almost 50% of marriages end in divorce and many younger people are not marrying (marriage was always lower among the working class since there was little wealth to protect or inherit). However, since the socialized safety net protections that women fought for to replace the nuclear family and provide a modicum of protection are under attack through the imposition of austerity programs, there is an increase in the feminization of poverty and single mothers. Since the problem is that there is not enough work, women are working part-time in two or three jobs in addition to taking care of their children without benefit of social supports from either the institution of marriage or of the state. Two thirds of the workers in the fast food industry are single women of color, many of them mothers, living below the poverty lines.

Yet the struggle continues. Impoverished women garment workers in Haiti, Cambodia Bangladesh have gone on strike, fought pitched street battles with police and burned factories, demanding better wages and better working conditions. And there is the beginning of a vibrant movement among low waged workers at Walmart in in the fast food industry in the United States.

The following excerpts (which we hope you will read, view, sing-along- with, explore and enjoy) are just a sampling of some of the actions and words of some prominent working women and movements during the period leading up to International Women’s Day. As we celebrate IWD today,however, let’s keep in mind how our current struggles are the same, how they have changed and what we can learn from our fore-mothers.

STILL AIN’T SATISFIED
By the Red Star Singers (If you want to get the tune and sing along, hit the link:

https://myspace.com/theredstarsingers/music/song/still-ain-t-satisfied-2824180-2802206)

They got women on TV, but I still ain’t satisfied
Cause cooptation’s all I see and I still ain’t satisfied
They call me Ms., they sell me blue jeans
Call it Women’s Lib, make it sound obscene
Oh they lied, Oh they lied, Oh they lied and I still ain’t satisfied

They got women prison guards, but I still ain’t satisfied
With so many behind bars, I still ain’t satisfied
I won’t plead guilt, I don’t want no bum deal
I don’t want crumbs, I want the whole meal
Chorus: Oh they lied, Oh they lied, Oh they lied and I still ain’t satisfied

They legalized abortion, but I still ain’t satisfied
Cause it still costs a fortune and I still ain’t satisfied
I’m singing about control of my own womb
And no reform is gonna change my tune
Chorus: Oh they lied, oh they lied, oh they lied and I still ain’t satisfied

They give out pennies here and there but I still ain’t satisfied
To set up centers for childcare but I still ain’t satisfied
And while we work everyday at slave wages,
They brainwash our kids at tender ages
Oh they lied, oh they lied, oh they lied and I still ain’t satisfied

I got some pride, I won’t be lied to
I did decide that halfway won’t do
Chorus: oh they lied, oh they lied, oh they lied and I still ain’t satisfied

In the words of the women who brought you International Women’s Day:

We need to go back to the rise of the post-Civil War labour movement and the first wave of feminism to see the inevitable class contradictions that arose between women of the bourgeoisie and women of the working class. The differences in approach are obvious when we look at the issues. Bourgeois women advocating women’s suffrage linked it to property qualifications and argued that women as a group should be enfranchised without looking at how this left blacks and many propertyless workers without the vote (http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAsuffrage.htm). The birth control movement also wound up linking to eugenics groups that were aligned to repugnant issues targeting the poor and people of colour.

To win equality for all people, women of the left argued that the economic and social exploitation endemic to the capitalist system be eliminated by the triumph of socialism. While suffrage and access to birth control were clearly important reform issues, they would not in and of itself enable all women’s, or for that matter, all people’s equality. . However when reformist men chose to limit their call for the vote to blacks and propertyless working men — forgetting that this still excluded women — the dynamics shifted and the call for socialists to specifically include women in their demand for the vote was born.

“Sojourner Truth” (1797-1883):

 photo soujournertruth1870.jpg

“Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.
If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.
Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say (http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/sojtruth-woman.asp).”

There has been some debate as to whether or not Sojourner Truth actually said the words “Ain’t I a woman” as the speech was reconstructed. Alice Walker prefers the original speech above and we are keeping it. Essentially, the controversy is over a resource written by a man in a newspaper that was one month after the event vs. an informal report by a woman who was at the event. Which resource is more legitimate? Since sources from the side of the oppressed are always both “stronger” — less polite — and de-legitimatized, we am opting for the female on the spot source vs. the male resource with (as the article shows) a specific agenda in terms of tone.

Harriot Stanton Blatch recalled how as a 10-year-old, she once read the morning papers to visiting SOJOURNA TRUTH as she smoked her pipe. Young Blatch asked,
“Sojourner, can’t you read?” To which Truth answered, “Oh no, honey, I can’t read little things like letters. I read big things like men.” Born a slave named Isabella, Sojourna bore at least 5 children, 2 girls sold from her, won her son back from an Alabama slaveholder, worked as a cook, maid and laundress in New York City, illiterate, preached against prostitution 1830, a mystic, chose name 1843, preached throughout Long Island and Connecticut, at abolitionist meetings, spoke at women’s rights meetings in 1850s, and is remembered for her dramatic “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech delivered at the Women’s convention in Akron, Ohio in 1851.

I. Labour and Organising:

Early 20th century US labour history and its relation to international women’s day:

MARY HARRIS “MOTHER” JONES(1837-1930)
 photo motherjones.jpg

“A lady is the last thing on earth I want to be. Capitalists side-track the women into clubs and make ladies of them.”
“No matter what the fight, don’t be ladylike! God almighty made women and the Rockefeller gang of thieves made the ladies.”

Labor organizer Mother Jones worked tirelessly for economic justice. While her opponents called her the “most dangerous woman in America,” fellow organizer Elizabeth Gurley Flynn called Jones “the greatest woman agitator of our times.” Jones combined dynamic speaking skills and radical organizing methods to mobilize thousands of laborers and working-class families. She said of herself,

“I’m not a humanitarian; I’m a hell-raiser.”

Mother Jones’ organizing methods were unique for her time. She welcomed African American workers and involved women and children in strikes. She organized miners’ wives into teams armed with mops and brooms to guard the mines against scabs. She staged parades with children carrying signs that read, “We Want to Go to School and Not to the Mines.”

Here is a short video on the life of Mother Jones:

Mary Harris “Mother” Jones was born in Cork, Ireland, moved to the United States in the 1840s, where her father worked in railroad construction. Mary became a teacher after trying her hand at dressmaking. In 1861 married a member of Iron Molders’ Union in Memphis. Six years later, she lost her husband and four young children to a yellow fever epidemic, and returned to Chicago to open a seamstress shop. After losing all her possessions in the great Chicago fire of 1871, Jones sought community in the Knights of Labor. She reconstructed herself as “Mother” Jones, radical organizer. Five-feet tall with snow-white hair, all black dress and confrontational style, Jones was indeed a fierce maternal presence.

From the late 1870s through the early 1920s, Jones participated in hundreds of strikes across the country. Living by the philosophy, “wherever there is a fight,” she supported workers in the railroad, steel, copper, brewing, textile, and mining industries. In 1903 she organized children textile workers to march on President Roosevelt’s home (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Harris_Jones).

Mary, like many working class women, saw the suffrage movement as an upper class women’s distraction, saying,

“the plutocrats have organized their women. They keep them busy with suffrage and prohibition and charity.”

Although she was suspicious of feminists, her courage and organizing were part of the struggle that informed International Women’s Day and deserves to be remembered on this day if for no other reason that the preceding cautionary quotes.

Lucy Parsons (born c. 1853 – March 7, 1942)
 photo lucyparsons.jpg

From her (1905) speech to the IWW:

“We, the women of this country, have no ballot even if we wished to use it, and the only way that we can be represented is to take a man to represent us. You men have made such a mess of it in representing us that we have not much confidence in asking you [.. .]

We [women] are the slaves of slaves. We are exploited more ruthlessly than men. Whenever wages are to be reduced the capitalist class use women to reduce them, and if there is anything that you men should do in the future it is to organize the women. [. . .]

Now, what do we mean when we say revolutionary Socialist?
We mean that the land shall belong to the landless, the tools to the toiler, and the products to the producers. [. . .] I believe that if every man and every woman who works, or who toils in the mines, mills, the workshops, the fields, the factories and the farms of our broad America should decide in their minds that they shall have that which of right belongs to them, and that no idler shall live upon their toil [. . .] then there is no army that is large enough to overcome you, for you yourselves constitute the army [. . .].
My conception of the strike of the future is not to strike and go out and starve, but to strike and remain in and take possession of the necessary property of production […].” (http://www.lucyparsonsproject.org/writings/speech_to_iww.html).

Lucy Parsons was a founding member of the IWW. She worked as an organizer for the IWW and anarchist activist who was a major organizer of the Haymarket Affair of 1886 in Chicago that led to the massacre of eight workers (her husband was executed in 1887 on charges of conspiring with the Haymarket Riot), addressed the founding convention of the IWW on two occasions. She was described by Chicago Police Department in the 1920s as “more dangerous than a thousand rioters (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucy_Parsons).” Her speeches touched on issues close to her heart: the oppression of women and how to develop radical new tactics to win strikes. Her ideas clearly were in advance of the time, presage the “sit-in” strikes of the 1930s, the anti-war movement of the 1960s, and her words resonate today. Delegate applause interrupted her speech several times and at the end.

The Uprising of the 20,000:

Interestingly enough while people may have heard the name of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory, it is often mostly known due to the horrific fire in 1911. However, the Triangle Shirtwaist factory plays quite a role in the history of trade union struggles in NYC; it was in response to the horrific working conditions at the factory that workers staged a short-term strike which resulted in a lock-out by the company. This led to a 14 week strike known as the “Uprising of the 20,000″ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Ladies%27_Garment_Workers%27_Union).

 photo claralemlich.jpg
At that point a 19-year old girl named Clara Lemlich who was sitting in the crowd stood up and began walking towards the podium while shouting “I want to say a few words!”Once she got to the podium, she continued, “I have no further patience for talk as I am one of those who feels and suffers from the things pictured. I move that we go on a general strike…now!” The audience rose to their feet and cheered, then voted for a strike (http://www.economicpopulist.org/content/clara-lemlich-and-uprising-20000).

“The news of the strike spread quickly to all the New York garment workers. At a series of mass meetings, after the leading figures of the American labor movement spoke in general terms about the need for solidarity and preparedness, Clara Lemlich rose to speak about the conditions she and other women worked under and demanded an end to talk and the calling of a strike of the entire industry. The crowd responded enthusiastically and, after taking a traditional Yiddish oath, “If I turn traitor to the cause I now pledge, may this hand wither from the arm I now raise,” voted for a general strike. Approximately 20,000 out of the 32,000 workers in the shirtwaist trade walked out in the next two days.”

 photo maymyrighthandwither.jpg

Some music to enjoy (well without the music):
The Uprising of the Twenty Thousand
Dedicated to the Waistmakers of 1909

In the black of the winter of nineteen nine,
When we froze and bled on the picket line,
We showed the world that women could fight
And we rose and won with women’s might.
Chorus:
Hail the waistmakers of nineteen nine,
Making their stand on the picket line,
Breaking the power of those who reign,
Pointing the way, smashing the chain.
And we gave new courage to the men
Who carried on in nineteen ten
And shoulder to shoulder we’ll win through,
Led by the I.L.G.W.U.
(From: Let’s Sing! Educational Department, International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, New York City, n.d., http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/… ).”

The strike was not completely successful. While Union recognition was not achieved, conditions on working hours, health and safety standards and wages were agreed but many employers in the industry (including the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory owners) refused to sign. In 1910, the ILGWU led a strike of 60,000 cloakmakers called “The Great Revolt” that lasted several months and which led to higher wages, union recognition rudimentary health benefits, and an agreement of arbitration rather than strikes to settle disagreements between workers and employers. (http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/trianglefire/primary/songsPlays/UprisingTwentyThousand.html)
 photo onstrike.jpg
Following the strike of the 20,000, waves of strikes spread through the garment trade starting with Cleveland and Philadelphia and in 1910 and 19111, they hit Chicago. Beginning at Hart, Schaffner, and Marx in September 1910 when 16 women struck. While wages, working conditions and working hours were bad, the straw that broke the camel’s back was the imposition of a bonus system that allowed supervisors to play favourites with some workers, as well as a cut in the piece rate of 1/4 cent. By the end of the week, the original 16 were joined by 2,000 other women. When the United Garment Workers union (UGW) officially sanctioned the strike, 41,000 workers walked off the job. The UGW refused to call a general strike and only called out workers that were without contracts. Hart, Schaffner and Marx shifted work to non-union sub-contractors. As the fall progressed, the strike increasingly looked like a lost cause. In early November, the Chicago Federation of Labor and the Women’s Trade Union League (WTUL) urged the strikers to settle, and the UGW withdrew support in December. Workers under Sidney Hillman’s leadership ratified a contract with HSM that went into effect on January 14. Other workers, the most radical of the strikers, held out until February, when the general strike was called off. As many workers as could returned to their shops, but many were refused re-employment (http://ocp.hul.harvard.edu/ww/chicagostrike.html).

Hannah Shapiro Glick
 photo HannahShapiro.jpg

“It wasn’t because I wanted to work, but I could see that every little cent helped. …I went to work at Hart, Schaffner & Marx; I thought, “I have to better myself.” [...] There’s nothing like in a big place to work; ’cause they have a wonderful system to work.(4) [...] We got along nicely with every language, let me tell you, but I always minded my own business, but when it came to this, [the strike] I couldn’t stand this [...]. They were all afraid to say a word but I wasn’t [...]. People who are older than I am would stay in the house and not to budge. So I was the first one [...] If not for me, it seems they couldn’t move [...] I’m a strong girl; I never regretted it [...] I think if not for the strike, they would never have what they have now; we had to strike and I think we had the right to go [...] They stayed like glue; they felt they had to show we have to be recognized as people and, really, we struggled; it wasn’t easy [...]The workingman has to live too, that’s what it had to show and it did too (http://www.chicagohistoryjournal.com/2010/09/identifying-lost-leader.html).”


(excerpted from research by Rebecca Sive, (also see: http://www.chicagohistoryjournal.com/2010/09/identifying-lost-leader.html). In 1922, Hannah Shapiro was identified in the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Joint Board Report as the initiator of the 1910 Chicago strike. Although she never emerged as a political leader, Glick was one of the “girl strikers” Buhle’s Socialist thinkers admired.

On September 22, 1910, Hannah [a.k.a. "Annie"] Shapiro (later Glick), a seventeen-year-old Jewish immigrant born in the Ukraine, initiated the workers’ walkout in shop 5 of a major clothing manufacturer. Shapiro, complained to her foreman about a cut in the piecework rate from 4 cents to 3 & 3/4 cents for seaming a pair of pants. He replied that nothing could be done. Under Shapiro’s leadership, workers from shop 5 walked out. By Wednesday, workers in other company shops refused to do the work of Shapiro’s shop and, by the end of the week, workers in seven out of ten Hart, Schaffner & Marx shops were out. A month later, 40,000 Chicago garment workers were on strike.
By her own account, Glick was young, fearless, and responsive to the righteousness of the workers’ struggle. Her convictions gave her strength; she was a tireless picketer and a good speaker, though not a trained organizer. Although she remembered meeting Jane Addams, dancing with Clarence Darrow [who represented the workers during arbitration], organizing with Agnes Nestor and Mary Dreier Robins, and watching Bessie Abramovitch (Hillman) flirt, She had no memory of Clara Masilotti, the Italian strike leader. Furthermore, Glick does not appear “conferring” in any photographs, nor did she write any articles about the strike, or teach English to strikers She did not speak at meetings of the workers, as Abramovitch did. However, she was always her own woman. She did not participate in the selling of the “Special Girl Strikers’ Edition” of the Chicago Daily Socialist because she did not agree with Socialist organizing tactics. Of her own significance in the strike, Glick said

“The strike, I’ll tell you the truth for me, it was a joke, but for the married people…But I was the spokes [sic]… At first they said, ‘A young girl, what does she know, good from bad, couldn’t she make up 1/4 cent? [...] Women can’t stick to anything.’

In retrospect, she saw her importance as having been a model of steadfast courage.

The Creation of International Women’s Day
The declaration of a women’s day was called by the Socialist Party of America in 1909 and was celebrated across the US on February 28th. In fact, it was celebrated in the US on the last Sunday in February up until 1913 (http://www.un.org/ecosocdev/geninfo/women/womday97.htmhttp://www.un.org/ecosocdev/geninfo/women/womday97.htm).

In 1910, at the Socialist (second) International (second internationall) in Copenhagen, Clara Zetkin suggested the creation of International Women’s day was established to honour women’s rights and to support the struggle for women’s suffrage.
In 1911, the first international women’s day was celebrated on March 19th by demonstrations in Austria (1918), Germany (1918), Denmark (1915) and Switzerland (1971) where over 1 million women and men attended the demonstrations. The dates in parentheses indicate when women achieved not only the right to vote, but the right to vote independently of property qualifications; in parentheses is the date that women’s suffrage was granted in these countries (women’s suffrage timeline). This most basic right of bourgeois democracies was denied to women and is still denied in many countries.

Some More US Labour History:

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

And this leads us once again to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory and the fire on March 25th 1911. The death of 146 people (17 men, 129 women mostly young immigrants; 146 out of 500 people employed at the company) either burnt to death or who died after jumping from the building.
 photo bodiesfromtriangleshirtwaistfactoryfire.jpg
These deaths all happened in the space of 18 minutes when a rag caught on fire in the space housing the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory (they occupied the 8-10 floors of the Asch building); in order to prevent workers from leaving early or stealing from the firm, workers going off shift had to pass through doors where their bags would be searched. The exits of the 9th floor were simply impassable, some doors were locked, the fire escapes buckled due to the heat of the flames. The locked doors ensured that those trapped inside (those on the 10th floor were able to make it to the roof) had the choice of being burned to death or jumping out the windows to their deaths (the fireman’s safety nets could not hold the weight of people from those heights, the fire ladders were too short to reach these floors and the water hoses could not reach a fire that high). These unnecessary and horrific deaths became a unifying theme for international women’s day and its link to working class struggles for justice (Triangle_Shirtwaist_Factory_fire).
Cornell University’s International Labour Relations Department has a 100 year tribute to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. This is a fantastic resource and includes a history of the struggles for wages, better working conditions, limits to working hours of the early 20th century in the garment district, eyewitness accounts of survivors, photos of the fire, its aftermath and the funerals. There are also transcripts of the trial against the owners of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company (Blanck and Harris) that were found innocent of second-degree manslaughter as they denied knowledge that the doors were locked. In 1914, they finally settled a civil suit paying $75 per victim (cornell triangle fire)
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350,000 people participated in the funeral march a few days after the fire. At the memorial meeting, Rose Schneiderman gave a speech that has meaning even today.
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“I would be a traitor to these poor burned bodies if I came here to talk good fellowship. We have tried you good people of the public and we have found you wanting. The old Inquisition had its rack and its thumbscrews and its instruments of torture with iron teeth. We know what these things are today; the iron teeth are our necessities, the thumbscrews are the high-powered and swift machinery close to which we must work, and the rack is here in the firetrap structures that will destroy us the minute they catch on fire.
This is not the first time girls have been burned alive in the city. Every week I must learn of the untimely death of one of my sister workers. Every year thousands of us are maimed. The life of men and women is so cheap and property is so sacred. There are so many of us for one job it matters little if 146 of us are burned to death.
We have tried you citizens; we are trying you now, and you have a couple of dollars for the sorrowing mothers, brothers and sisters by way of a charity gift. But every time the workers come out in the only way they know to protest against conditions which are unbearable the strong hand of the law is allowed to press down heavily upon us.
Public officials have only words of warning to us – warning that we must be intensely peaceable, and they have the workhouse just back of all their warnings. The strong hand of the law beats us back, when we rise, into the conditions that make life unbearable.
I can’t talk fellowship to you who are gathered here. Too much blood has been spilled. I know from my experience it is up to the working people to save themselves. The only way they can save themselves is by a strong working-class movement (rose schneiderman).”

The Bread and Roses Strike (Lawrence MA, 1912)
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, along with Joseph Ettor was one of the major organisers for the 1912 Lawrence Textile Strike, aka the “Bread and Roses Strike” derived from a sign carried by a woman worker.
Lawrence MA was a mill town; housing was “provided” for workers and was priced higher than elsewhere in New England. Other workers lived in cramped tenements. According to Jone Johnson Lewis (1912_lawrence), the average worker at Lawrence earned less than $9 per week; housing costs were $1 to $6 per week. Introduction of new machinery lead to a speed-up leading to increased productivity but lower wages and less hours available to work. The strike began on January 11th when a few Polish women workers went on strike as their pay was shorted. The next day, 10,000 workers went out; strike numbers rose to 25,000.

The IWW was the main organising force, after meeting with them, the workers demanded:
• 15% pay increase
• 54 hour work week
• overtime pay at double the normal rate of pay
• elimination of bonus pay, which rewarded only a few and encouraged all to work longer hours

Needless to say, the city responded rather badly to the strike.

“The city reacted with nightime militia patrols, turning fire hoses on strikers, and sending some of the strikers to jail. Groups elsewhere, often Socialists, organized strike relief, including soup kitchens, medical care, and funds paid to the striking families (1912 lawrence).

The death of a woman striker, Anna LoPizzo whom was killed as police broke up a picket line on January 29 increased tensions.

“Strikers accused the police of the shooting. Police arrested IWW organizer Joseph Ettor and Italian socialist, newpaper editor, and poet Arturo Giovannitti who were at a meeting three miles away at the time and charged them as accessories to murder in her death. After this arrest, martial law was enforced and all public meetings were declared illegal (http://womenshistory.about.com/od/worklaborunions/a/1912_lawrence.htm).”

Dynamite was planted around the town by people paid by the company owners to try and win public sympathy at the expense of the strikers and IWW. Children of the strikers were evacuated to NYC on trains where temporary foster care was provided for them (as an aside, Margaret Sanger was one of the nurses on the train). When the next attempt to relocate children happened; the city reacted violently, mothers and children were clubbed and beaten and children were taken from their parents. This led to a congressional investigation in which the workers actually testified; Helen Taft (the wife of President Taft) actually attended the congressional meetings in sympathy with the workers. This enabled the building of public sympathy as the IWW brought attention to the situation and held solidarity rallies in NY (led by Flynn) and Boston. The company gave in on March 12th to the original demands of the strikers and Ettor and Giovannitti were acquitted of murder on November 26th.
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ELIZABETH GURLEY FLYNN (1890-1964)

The song, Rebel Girl, written in honour of Flynn by Joe Hill best expresses her life (elizabeth gurley flynn). The video below begins with Flynn reminiscing about her life, before the song begins:
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Born in Concord, NH to a family of socialists and feminists that finally settled in the Bronx in 1900, Flynn attended public school in the Bronx in New York City. At the age of 16 she gave her first public address to the Harlem Socialist Club, where she spoke on “What Socialism Will Do for Women.” Upon her arrest for blocking traffic during one of her soapbox speeches she was expelled from high school, and in 1907 she began full-time organizing for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).
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Flynn’s efforts for the IWW took her all over the United States, where she led organizing campaigns among garment workers in Minersville, Pennsylvania; silk weavers in Patterson, New Jersey; hotel and restaurant workers in New York City; miners in Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range; and textile workers in the famous Lawrence, Massachusetts, strike of 1912. She spoke in meeting halls, at factory gates, and on street corners in cities and towns across the country.

Many of the workers whom Flynn sought to organize were women and children, and Flynn combined her class-based politics with recognition of the particular oppression women experienced because of their sex. She criticized male chauvinism in the IWW and pressed the union to be more sensitive to the needs and interests of working class women.

With other Communist leaders, Flynn fell victim to the anti-Communist hysteria that suffused the United States after the war. After a nine-month trial in 1952, she was convicted under the Smith Act of conspiring to teach and advocate the overthrow of the United States government. During her prison term from January 1955 to May 1957 at the women’s federal penitentiary at Alderson, West Virginia, she wrote, took notes on prison life, and participated in the integration of a cottage composed of African-American women.

Flynn published two books about her life:
The Rebel Girl, An Autobiography: My First Life (1906-1926; revised edition, 1973) and The Alderson Story: My Life as a Political Prisoner (1955). The following books provide discussions of Flynn in the context of women activists and labor radicals: Melvyn Dubofsky, We Shall Be All: A History of the Industrial Workers of the World (1969); Meredith Tax, The Rising of the Women: Feminist Solidarity and Class Conflict, 1880-1917 (1980).

Women’s Suffrage, Race and Class Struggle:
The Women’s Suffrage movement split upon both race and class early in its history.

CLARA ZETKIN. (1857-1933).

“As far as the proletarian woman is concerned, it is capitalism’s need to exploit and to search incessantly for a cheap labor force that has created the women’s question. It is for this reason, too, that the proletarian woman has become enmeshed in the mechanism of the economic life of our period and has been driven into the workshop and to the machines. She went out into the economic life in order to aid her husband in making a living, but the capitalist mode of production transformed her into on unfair competitor. She wanted to bring prosperity to her family, but instead misery descended upon it. The proletarian woman obtained her own employment because she wanted to create a more sunny and pleasant life for her children, but instead she became almost entirely separated from them. She became an equal of the man as a worker; the machine rendered muscular force superfluous and everywhere women’s work showed the same results in production as men’s work. And since women constitute a cheap labor force and above all a submissive one that only in the rarest of cases dares to kick against the thorns of capitalist exploitation, the capitalists multiply the possibilities of women’s work in industry. As a result of all this, the proletarian woman has achieved her independence. But verily, the price was very high and for the moment they have gained very little. If during the Age of the Family, a man had the right (just think of the law of Electoral Bavaria!) to tame his wife occasionally with a whip, capitalism is now taming her with scorpions. In former times, the rule of a man over his wife was ameliorated by their personal relationship. Between an employer and his worker, however, exists only a cash nexus. The proletarian woman has gained her economic independence, but neither as a human being nor as a woman or wife has she had the possibility to develop her individuality. For her task as a wife and a mother, there remain only the breadcrumbs which the capitalist production drops from the table.

Therefore the liberation struggle of the proletarian woman cannot be similar to the struggle that the bourgeois woman wages against the male of her class. On the contrary, it must be a joint struggle with the male of her class against the entire class of capitalists. She does not need to fight against the men of her class in order to tear down the barriers which have been raised against her participation in the free competition of the market place. Capitalism’s need to exploit and the development of the modern mode of production totally relieves her of having to fight such a struggle. On the contrary, new barriers need to be erected against the exploitation of the proletarian woman. Her rights as wife and mother need to be restored and permanently secured. Her final aim is not the free competition with the man, but the achievement of the political rule of the proletariat. The proletarian woman fights hand in hand with the man of her class against capitalist society. To be sure, she also agrees with the demands of the bourgeois women’s movement, but she regards the fulfillment of these demands simply as a means to enable that movement to enter the battle, equipped with the same weapons, alongside the proletariat (http://www.marxists.org/archive/zetkin/1896/10/women.htm).”

Radical Socialist and feminist, Clara Zetkin joined the Social Democratic Workers’ Party of Germany in 1875. Zetkin belonged to the Radical wing of the Party along with Rosa Luxemburg. She married a Russian revolutionary living in exile (for a bibliography of Zetkin, see Clara Zetkin bibliography).
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Clara Zetkin was influenced by Bebel’s position in Women and Socialism which argued that it was the goal of socialists “not only to achieve equality of men and women under the present social order, which constitutes the sole aim of the bourgeois women’s movement, but to go far beyond this and to remove all barriers that make one human being [economically]dependent upon another, which includes the dependence of one sex upon another.”

In 1889, Zetkin wrote:

“What made women’s labour particularly attractive to the capitalists was not only its lower price but also the greater submissiveness of women. The capitalists speculate on the two following factors: the female worker must be paid as poorly as possible and the competition of female labour must be employed to lower the wages of male workers as much as possible. In the same manner the capitalists use child labour to depress women’s wages and the work of machines to depress all human labour.”

In 1891 Zetkin became editor of the SPD’s journal, Die Gleichheit (Equality). An impressive journalist, Zetkin took the circulation from 11,000 in 1903 to 67,000 three years later. She was also active against militarism. At the time of WW1, Zetkin wrote in November, 1914:

“When the men kill, it is up to us women to fight for the preservation of life. When the men are silent, it is our duty to raise our voices in behalf of our ideals.”

A strong campaigner for women’s suffrage, Zetkin was elected secretary of the International Socialist Women. In 1907, she became the leader of the women’s office at the SPD (German Social Democratic Party) and organized the first international women’s conference (Clara Zetkin). She wrote:

“The socialist parties of all countries are duty bound to fight energetically for the implementation of universal women’s suffrage which is to be vigorously advocated both by agitation and by parliamentary means. When a battle for suffrage is conducted, it should only be conducted according to socialist principles, and therefore with the demand of universal suffrage for all men and women [irrespective of class and property ownership].”

In 1910 at the Second International, she advocated for the formation of International Women’s Day on March 8th (http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERzetkin.htm).
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Video of Zetkin:

IDA BELL WELLS-BARNETT (Holy Springs, Mississippi) July 16, 1862 – March 25, 1931)
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The following story illustrates how Well’s long history of fighting for black rights influenced the suffrage movement:

On March 3, 1913, as 5,000 women prepared to parade through President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration, demanding the right to vote, Ida B. Wells was standing to the side. A black journalist and civil-rights activist, she had taken time out from her anti-lynching campaign to lobby for woman suffrage in Chicago.
But a few days earlier, leaders of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) had insisted she not march with the Illinois delegation. Certain Southern women, they said, had threatened to pull out if a black woman marched alongside whites.

A constitutional amendment for woman suffrage, the object of the parade, would have to be ratified by two-thirds of the state legislatures after garnering two-thirds votes in both the House and Senate. In the Southern states, opposition to woman suffrage was intensified as legislators feared that granting women the vote would add even more black voters to the voting rolls.

So, the parade organizers reasoned, a compromise had to be struck: African American women could march in the suffrage parade, but in order to prevent raising even more opposition in the South, they would have to march at the back of the march. The organizers of the march asked that the African American women march at the back of the parade.

Mary Terrell accepted the decision. But Ida Wells-Barnett did not. She tried to get the white Illinois delegation to support her opposition of this segregation, but found few supporters. The Alpha Suffrage Club women either marched in the back, or, as did Ida Wells-Barnett herself, decided not to march in the parade at all.
But, as the parade progressed, Wells-Barnett emerged from the crowd and joined the (white) Illinois delegation, marching between two white supporters. She refused to comply with the segregation. This was neither the first nor the last time that African American women found their support of women’s rights received with less than enthusiasm.
Didn’t black women have as much right to vote as white women? Sixty-five years earlier, at the dawn of the woman’s suffrage movement, most suffragists would have said yes. In fact, early feminists were often anti-slavery activists before they started arguing for women’s rights. And the parallels between black slaves — who could not vote or hold property — and women — who could do neither in most states — couldn’t be ignored (Sources: http://www.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=4945 and http://womenshistory.about.com/library/weekly/aa010118b.htm).

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Born of slave parents, Ida B. Wells became a teacher, refused to give up her seat to go to the “coloured section” and sued the railroad in the 1880s. She led the national campaign against lynching, and founded Alpha Suffrage Club of Chicago with Black suffragists.

But the rights of blacks and women did not always go hand in hand. In 1869, as America was about to give black men the right to vote, the woman’s movement split in two. Half the activists felt that any expansion of voting rights was a step in the right direction; the other half were angry that women were being left behind.

By 1900, most suffragists had lost their enthusiasm for civil rights, and actually used racism to push for the vote. Anna Howard Shaw, head of NAWSA, said it was “humiliating” that black men could vote while well-bred white women could not. Other suffragists scrambled to reassure white Southerners that white women outnumbered male blacks in the South. If women got the vote, they argued, they would help preserve “white supremacy. “But not all white suffragists shunned blacks, but Wells was never really embraced by the white suffrage movement. And though both white and black women won the vote in 1920, they did not do it by marching together.

The discussions on the left addressed Women’s Suffrage differently and from a critical perspective compared to those of bourgeois feminist movements. Questions were raised amongst the anarchists such as Emma Goldman asked whether the ballot was a priority, that it distracted women from true emancipation and tied our emancipation towards participating in elections rather than elimination of oppression and the state; Mother Jones argued that it was not a priority, we should be fighting class oppression. Amongst the Socialists and Communists, support for Women’s Suffrage was strong. However, their argument was strongly differentiated from the Bourgeois Women’s Suffrage movement and emphasised that while extension of bourgeois democracy was appropriate if nothing else on social grounds and economic grounds; simply getting women into political movements was important. However, it was always emphasised that true liberation and emancipation would only come through the struggle and creation of socialism.

Emma Goldman (June 27 [O.S. June 15] 1869 – May 14, 1940)
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“The history of progress is written in the blood of men and women who have dared to espouse an unpopular cause, as, for instance, the black man’s right to his body, or woman’s right to her soul.”
“Needless to say, I am not opposed to woman suffrage on the conventional ground that she is not equal to it. I see neither physical, psychological, nor mental reasons why woman should not have the equal right to vote with man. But that can not possibly blind me to the absurd notion that woman will accomplish that wherein man has failed. If she would not make things worse, she certainly could not make them better. To assume, therefore, that she would succeed in purifying something which is not susceptible of purification, is to credit her with supernatural powers. Since woman’s greatest misfortune has been that she was looked upon as either angel or devil, her true salvation lies in being placed on earth; namely, in being considered human, and therefore subject to all human follies and mistakes. Are we, then, to believe that two errors will make a right? Are we to assume that the poison already inherent in politics will be decreased, if women were to enter the political arena? The most ardent suffragists would hardly maintain such a folly.

As a matter of fact, the most advanced students of universal suffrage have come to realize that all existing systems of political power are absurd, and are completely inadequate to meet the pressing issues of life (http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/goldman/works/1911/woman-suffrage).”

Born in Kovno in the Russian Empire to an orthodox Jewish family, Goldman emigrated to the US in 1885 and moved first to Rochester, NY before she moved and settled to live in NYC. An anarchist writer, theoretician and activist, Goldman wrote and worked extensively on women’s issues on birth control, marriage (she was an ardent supporter of “free love”), and freedom of speech, an opponent of homophobia, militarism and conscription. A believer in direct action and violence to support political ends, she was imprisoned several times for “incitement to riot.”

In 1892 she was involved in the Homestead strike by the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers (against the Homestead PA steel plant owned by Andrew Carnegie and run by Henry Clay Frick a strong opponent of the union). Her lover, Alexander Birkman, tried unsuccessfully to kill Frick in an attempt to strike terror and raise political consciousness (he was sentenced to 22 years in prison for the attempt).
In 1901, Leon Czolgosz shot President McKinley (who died from his wounds). Czolgosz said that he was inspired after listening to one of Goldman’s speeches but said that she had no role in the assassination. He was executed for the crime, but she refused to condemn his actions and was vilified leading to a crackdown on anarchists under Teddy Roosevelt the succeeding president. Goldman founded the journal “Mother Earth” in 1906 and when Beckman was released he took over control of the journal while she toured the country advocating anarchism, birth control, free-love and freedom of speech for the next 10 years. Their relationship broke down and Goldman formed a relationship with Ben Reitman (her “hobo” doctor).
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Following the passage of conscription for WWI, Goldman became active in the anti-conscription movement and formed the No Conscription League with Beckman leading to her arrest in June 1917 and imprisonment until 1919.

Attorney General Alexander Mitchell Palmer and J. Edgar Hoover, head of the U.S.
Department of Justice’s General Intelligence Division, were intent on using the Anarchist Exclusion Act of 1918 to deport any non-citizens they could identify as advocates of anarchy or revolution. “Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman,” Hoover wrote while they were in prison, “are, beyond doubt, two of the most dangerous anarchists in this country and return to the community will result in undue harm.” They (and 247 other people) were deported en masse to Russia. Initially supportive of the revolution, Goldman and Beckman became rapidly and strongly disenchanted and left the country in 1921.

She then lived in the UK after marrying to get British citizenship to provide her with some safety; she started writing her biography in 1928, travelled to Canada. She was allowed to return to the US for a lecture tour in 1933, as long as she did not speak of politics or current events. She visited Spain (she strongly support the anarcho-syndicalists during the Civil War and championed their cause) and her support for their struggle was formally recognised by the CNT-FAI. She died in 1940 in Toronto Canada (Emma Goldman).

Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919)

From Women’s Suffrage and Class Struggle (1912)

“Economically and socially, the women of the exploiting classes do not make up an independent stratum of the population. They perform a social function merely as instruments of natural reproduction for the ruling classes. The women of the proletariat, on the contrary, are independent economically; they are engaged in productive work for society just as the men are. Not in the sense that they help the men by their housework, scraping out a daily living and raising children for meagre compensation. This work is not productive within the meaning of the present economic system of capitalism, even though it entails an immense expenditure of energy and self-sacrifice in a thousand little tasks. This is only the private concern of the proletarians, their blessing and felicity, and precisely for this reason nothing but empty air as far as modem society is concerned. Only that work is productive which produces surplus value and yields capitalist profit – as long as the rule of capital and the wage system still exists. From this standpoint the dancer in a cafe, who makes a profit for her employer with her legs, is a productive working-woman, while all the toil of the woman and mothers of the proletariat within the four walls of the home is considered unproductive work. This sounds crude and crazy but it is an accurate expression of the crudeness and craziness of today’s capitalist economic order; and to understand this crude reality clearly and sharply is the first necessity for the proletarian woman (https://epress.anu.edu.au/archive/draper/1976/women/4-luxemburg.html)”

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Rosa Luxemburg was born in Russian-controlled Poland. She was the 5th child of a Jewish Timber Merchant; a childhood illness left her with a permanent limp. Rosa Luxemburg was a leading Marxist theoretician and organiser whose writings were pertinent to many debates of the period and are still relevant to contemporary debates especially on Reform versus Revolution, Tactics and Strategy, Political Organisation, Political Economy and discussions of the National Question (http://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/index.htm).
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In 1886, Luxemburg joined the Polish Proletariat Party which organised a general strike leaving in 1887 resulting in 4 leaders killed and the party disbanded. Rosa fled to Switzerland in 1889, studying at Zurich University. She co-founded the Social Democratic party of the Kingdom of Poland (and later Lithuania joined the group) with Leo Jogiches. She wrote extensively on the national question, political economy, politics and history. In 1896, she married Gustav Lübeck, got German citizenship and moved to Berlin. She was active in the left-wing of the SPD leading the fight against Bernstein’s revisionist policies (See Social Reform or Revolution). A supporter of the use of direct action and the general strike, she ran into difficulties with the right of the SPD and also the government. She was imprisoned 3 times for her political activities between the periods of 1904-6. She finally broke with the SPD in 1914 when they voted to support the war and agreed to a truce with the Imperial Government. In 1914, Karl Liebknecht, Clara Zetkin, and Franz Mehring, founded the Die Internationale group; it became the Spartacus League in January 1916. The Spartacist League vehemently rejected the SPD’s support for the war, trying to lead Germany’s proletariat to an anti-war general strike. As a result, in June 1916 Luxemburg was imprisoned for two and a half years, as was Karl Liebknecht. During imprisonment, she was twice relocated, first to Posen (now Poznań), then to Breslau (now Wrocław). Freed from Prison in Breslau in 1918, Luxemburg and Liebknecht reorganised the Spartacist League which along with the Independent Socialists and the International Communists of Germany (IKD) united to form the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) on 1st January 1919 under her and Liebknecht’s leadership.

In January 1919 a second revolutionary wave took Berlin. The leader of the SPD (Friedrich Ebert, a former student of Luxemburg) ordered the destruction of the left-wing revolution. Luxemburg and Liebknecht were captured on the 15th of January in Berlin and were first questioned and then murdered by the Freikorps’ Garde-Kavallerie-Schützendivision. While Leibknecht body was delivered anonymously to a morgue; Rosa Luxemburg’s body was dumped in a river (see Rosa Luxemburg).

Alexandra Kollantai (1872-1953)

young kollantai:
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Today, for International Women’s Day 2013, we are including the words of Alexandra Kollantai, on the question of maternity insurance, motherhood and children. Many readers might ask why this topic? Isn’t the question surrounding reproductive rights the purview of bourgeois feminists? Shouldn’t we be focused on articles that pertain to women’s role in the workforce and IWD, especially when the writer is Kollantai, a leading advocate of IWD during the Russian Revolution, For those women, we refer you to the following link: To mark International Women’s Day 2010, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reproduces Alexandra Kollontai’s classic history and explanation of this important anniversary. Kollontai’s writings are available on line (see: Alexandra Kollantai bibliography).

However, we chose the article on maternity insurance because: 1) if you watch the news today, you will see the same problem of maternity insurance, motherhood and children (albeit an updated version) being argued in the halls of the U.S. Congress in 2013 just as it was argued by Russian society in 1902; and 2) as Kolantai, herself notes, it is the most vital and urgent problem created by the large-scale capitalist economic system. The article, although already significantly edited, is very long. We hope the opening will entice you enough to follow the link and read the entire argument. Then go discuss it with the women in your neighbourhood.

Kollantai in Sweden when she was a diplomat there:
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Society and Motherhood (Source: Alexandra Kollontai: Selected Articles and Speeches, Progress Publishers, 1984; First Published: Society and Motherhood, Petrograd, 1916, pp. 3-18, abridged; Transcribed: Sally Ryan for marxists.org, 2000)

“Among the numerous problems raised by contemporary reality there is probably none more important for mankind, none more vital and urgent than the problem of motherhood created by the large-scale capitalist economic system. The problem of protecting and providing for the mother and young child is one that faces social politicians, knocks relentlessly at the door of the statesman, engages the health and hygiene specialists, concerns the social statistician, haunts the representative of the working class and weighs down on the shoulders of tens of millions of mothers compelled to earn their own living.

Side by side with the problem of sex and marriage, enveloped in the poetical language of the psychological suffering, insoluble difficulties and unsatisfied needs of noble souls, there is always to be found the majestic and tragic figure of motherhood wearily carrying her heavy burden. Neo-Malthusians, social-reformers and philanthropists have all hastened to provide their own particular solution to this thorny problem, and all sing the praises of their own method of restoring paradise lost to mothers and babies.

The prosperity of national industry and the development of the national economy depend upon a constant supply of fresh labour […] the principle of state maternity insurance [is] a principle in sharp contradiction with the present social structure as [it] undermines the basis of marriage and violates the fundamental concepts of private-family rights and relationships. However, if, in the name of ‘higher’ considerations of state and under the pressure of necessity, the state authorities have been compelled to advance and implement a measure so at odds with the prevailing spirit of the representatives of the bourgeois world, at the other end of the social scale, among the working class, the principle of providing for and protecting mother and child is welcomed with enthusiasm and sympathy.

The demand that the social collective (the community) provide maternity insurance and child protection was born of the immediate and vital needs of the class of hired workers. Of all the strata of society, this class is the one which most requires that a solution be found to the painful conflict between compulsory professional labour by women and their duties as representatives of their sex, as mothers. Following a powerful class instinct rather than a clearly understood idea, the working class strove to find a way of resolving this conflict (Society and Motherhood 1915).

An ardent supporter of working class women, Kollantai, herself came from the bourgeois intelligentsia. Her father was a general and her mother came from a wealthy peasant family. Her mother’s divorce from her first husband and the long and unhappy struggle of her parents to be together helped develop her ideas on love, sex and marriage which became a critical part of her feminist theory. Her own early marriage ended because she felt “trapped.” She became increasingly involved with the populist ideas of the Peasant Commune in the 1890s which led her to the budding Marxist movement in St. Petersburg. In 1898 she left her child by her first marriage with her parents and went to study economics abroad in Europe. In 1899, she returned to Russia where she met Lenin who supported her feminist ideas. She was a witness of the popular uprising in 1905 known as Bloody Sunday, at Saint Petersburg in front of the Winter Palace. She went into exile to Germany in 1908. She left Germany when the SPD supported WWI which she adamantly opposed. She settled in Norway where her antiwar views were accepted. She finally returned to Russia after the Tsar abdicated in 1917. She became the most well-known advocate for women’s equality in Russia and the most prominent woman in the Soviet administration .She was best known for founding the Zhenotdel or “Women’s Department” (1919) where she worked to improve the conditions of women’s lives, fighting illiteracy and educating women about the new marriage, education, and working laws put in place by the Soviet Union (Alexandra Kollantai .

In the 1920s, she joined a left-wing faction of the Communist party that opposed Lenin and was effectively purged from any further meaningful role in the party. Because of her previously close relationship with Lenin, however, she was allowed to live out her days in various diplomatic positions abroad (Alexandra Kollantai ).

Kollontai raised eyebrows with her unflinching advocacy of free love. Kollontai’s views on the role of marriage and the family under Communism were arguably more influential on today’s society than her advocacy of “free love.” Kollontai believed that, like the state, the family unit would wither away. She viewed marriage and traditional families as legacies of the oppressive, property-rights-based, egoist past. Under Communism, both men and women would work for, and be supported by, society, not their families. Similarly, their children would be wards of, and reared basically by society. Kollontai admonished men and women to discard their nostalgia for traditional family life. “The worker-mother must learn not to differentiate between yours and mine; she must remember that there are only our children, the children of Russia’s communist workers.” However, she also praised maternal attachment: “Communist society will take upon itself all the duties involved in the education of the child, but the joys of parenthood will not be taken away from those who are capable of appreciating them.”Alexandra Kollantai
Zetkin and Kollantai (1921)at the International Women’s Conference:
 photo zetkinandkollantai.jpg
In solidarity with all women’s struggles:
 photo international-womens-day-womensstruggles.jpg

Feb 23 1903: Mother Jones and the Massacre of the Raleigh County Miners

3:50 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

Mother Jones

by JayRaye

“Has anyone ever told you, my children, about the lives you are living…?”

Let us stop and consider, for a moment, what would cause thousands of miners to lay down their tools and go out on strike, when striking meant homelessness and hunger for themselves and their families. Striking also brought down upon them the terror of the company guards, heavily armed deputies (often one and the same), state militia, bullpens, raids, court injunctions, and the wrath of the capitalistic press.

In 1897, Mother Jones was in West Virginia traveling and speaking to miners and their families. John Walker of the United Mine Workers of America was traveling with her. In 1904, a reporter who had accompanied her wrote this account of one of her speeches:

‘Has any one ever told you, my children, about the lives you are living, more so that you may understand how it is you pass your days on earth? Have you told each other about it and thought it over among yourselves, so that you might imagine a brighter day and begin to bring it to pass? If no one has done so, I will do it for you today. I want you to see yourselves as you are, Mothers and children, and to think if it is not time you look on yourselves, and upon each other. Let us consider this together, for I am on of you, and I know what it is to suffer.’

So the old lady, standing very quietly in her deep, far-reaching voice, painted a picture of the life of a miner from his young boyhood to his old age. It was a vivid picture. She talked of the first introduction a boy had to those dismal caves under the earth, dripping with moisture often so low that he must crawl into the coal veins; most lie on his back to work. She told how miners stood bent over until the back ached too much to straighten, or in sulpher water that ate through the shoes and made sores on the flesh; how their hands became cracked and the nails broken off in the quick; how the bit of bacon and beans in the dinner pail failed to stop the craving of their empty stomachs, and the thought of the barefoot children, at home and the sick mother was all too dreary to make the homegoing a cheerful one….

And so, while he smoked, the miner thought how he could never own a home, were it ever so humble; how he could not make his wife happy, or his children any better than himself, and how he must get up in the morning and go through it all again; how that some day the fall of rock would come or the rheumatism cripple him; that Mary herself might die and leave him, and some day there would be no longer for him even the job that was so hard and old age and hunger and pain would be his lot. And why, because some other human beings, no more the sons of God than the coal diggers, broke the commandment of God which says, ‘Thou shalt not steal.’ and took from the toiler all the wealth which he created, all but enough to keep him alive for a period of years through which he might toil for their advantage.

‘You pity yourselves, but you do not pity your brothers, or you would stand together to help on another,’ said “Mother” Jones. And then in an impassioned vein she called upon them to awaken their minds so that they might live another life. As she ceased speaking men and women looked at each other with shamed faces, for almost every one had been weeping. and suddenly a man pushed his way through the crowd. He was sniveling on his coat sleeve, but he cried out hoarsely:

‘You, John Walker; don’t you go tell us that ‘ere’s “Mother” Jones. That’s Jesus Christ come down on earth again , and saying he’s an old woman so he can come here and talk to us poor devils. God, God-nobody else knows what the poor suffer that way.’

The man was quieted by his wife and led away, while ‘Mother’ Jones looked after him with dilating eyes, and then broke out fiercely in one of her characteristically impassioned appeals for organization. The reporter feared the outbreak was too sacrilegious for publication….

“I dislike to ask you always to take the dangerous fields…”

On May 10, 1902, John Mitchell wrote to Mother Jones who was working as an organizer for the United Mine Workers:

Read the rest of this entry →

Anti-Capitalist Meet-Up: Hellraisers Journal, The Labor Martyrs Project, and WE NEVER FORGET by JayRaye

2:40 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

Back of Envelope Containing
Joe Hill’s Ashes

WE NEVER FORGET

At Joe Hill’s funeral, sashes were worn by many in attendance with “WE NEVER FORGET” written on them in big bold capital letters. This slogan was also written on the program for the day’s events. A year later, the ashes were handed out to IWW delegates from every state of the USA (except Utah) and from countries all around the world. The envelopes also carried this slogan. The Labor Martyrs Project uses this slogan to honor all of our Labor Martyrs, quite certain that Fellow Worker Joe Hill would not mind.

The Labor Martyrs Project

By way of explaination, I’ll give the simple “what-when-where-&-who” first. “Why” is a bit harder to explain, and a lot more personal.

What: the The Labor Martyrs Project honors those who have died in the class struggle on the side of the working class, by remembering, at minimum, their names and ages.

When: 1877 through 1937.

Where: the United States. I wanted to include Canada and Mexico, but the more I learned, the more I realized that just the task of covering the labor martyrs of the USA was an immense project, probably beyond what any one person can accomplish. For example, some sources claim that there were more than 200 workers who died in labor conflicts just in year 1934 alone. Each and every one of them deserves to have their name recorded for history.

Who: that would be us, the working class. These are our martyrs who died in the struggle to give us and our children a better life.

At The Ludlow Monument

It all started when I picked up a book called Labor’s Untold Story. That was the first I ever heard of the Ludlow Massacre. I think this might have been about 1986. I didn’t have a car at that time, so I took a Greyhound bus out to Colorado. The bus driver didn’t want to drop me off at Ludlow because it wasn’t a scheduled stop, but I talked him into it. Took me 3 hours to walk back to Walsenburg, but that’s alright, I had a lot to think about. It is difficult to describe the feeling that I had standing at the foot of the Ludlow Monument. Just a few days ago, I came by this poem written by our very own Richard Myers (RIP), I could not describe the experience any better:

Helen and Gust of Ludlow

The Ludlow Monument
The Ludlow Monument

“He’s haunted by the memory
Of heroes that he could not save,
And it was Gust that drove the dray
Collecting children for the grave.”

I left. I went alone that night
Where miners and their families died.
I searched for answers in the pits
Where helpless children tried to hide.

I raged at phantoms on the hill
Whence gunfire ‘cross the plain had swept,
And then before the monument
I knelt down on the ground and wept.

I went back again for the 75th commemoration. That was on June 10, 1989, and of that date I am certain since Zeese Papanikolas was there and kindly signed my copy of Buried Unsung with the date and location (Ludlow.) I made that trip by Greyhound also, but that time I packed up my mountain bike, so I was able to get around a bit better. A very kind family put me up for the night, fed me, and we had a great visit. I loved all the folks I met in Walsenburg and Trinidad. The woman who ran the little history museum in Walsenburg was an incredible help. She directed me to the exact location where Mother Jones was held in the underground cell. I was able to go there and stand there for a little while. It had been turned into someone’s office, but no one seemed to mind me stopping by. A very kind shopkeeper boxed up my bike and even delivered it to the bus stop for my return trip home. I was only asking for a box, but he offered to take care of everything, and wouldn’t take any payment.

Well, this is turning into a ramble, but it is all part of how I became obsessed with Labor Martyrs. While in Trinidad on that visit, I rode my bike up to the cemetery. Again standing there where the martyrs are buried changed me. That I could be a working class union woman, and a Socialist to boot, and yet reach my 30s without ever hearing of them and what they went through upset me in a way that I can not describe. They deserve better from us than to be forgotten.

And from there I ate, slept, and dreamed labor history. Reading, taking notes. I never knew for sure what I would do with all those notes, boxes full of notes arranged mostly in chronological order, but they sure do come in handy now.

So the “Why” boils down to this: our labor martyrs deserve to be remembered by us. Each and every one. And remembered, at minimum, by their names and ages.

Memory and Class Consciousness

The Monument reads:

In Memory of
The men, women and children
Who lost their lives
In Freedoms’s Cause
At Ludlow, Colorado
April 20, 1914
Erected by the
United Mine Workers of America

Wesley Everest
“Tell the boys I died for my class.”

I won’t go into a long analysis here. Suffice to say that as we lose the memory of our history as a class, so goes our class consciousness. The heroes of the day understood that they were fighting for their class. From Joe Hill who writes in the Rebel Girl, “she is true to her class and her kind,” to Wesley Everest who went to his death saying “tell the boys I died for my class,” these workers understood that they were undertaking a struggle which was The Class Struggle. That they were up against a powerful and ruthless foe. They fought, not only for themselves, but for the Working Class as a whole and for the future generations of working people. They voiced this class conscious view over and over again in speeches, verse, and song. We owe them a debt that we can never repay. The very least we can do is to honor their memory.

The Unknown Worker Tag

Being somewhat of a perfectionist, I kept researching and avoided actually publishing anything, hoping to find missing names. However, if I were to stick with that plan, the Project would never be published. Some names will probably never be found. And so I’ve created the [Unknown Workerhttp://www.dailykos.com/news/Unknown%20Worker] Tag. These Labor Martyrs will be honored by whatever information I can find about them . For example, in [this diaryhttp://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/10/06/1244695/-WE-NEVER-FORGET-August-3-1913-Bloody-Sunday-in-Wheatland-California], I could say that one was Puerto Rican and the other was an English “lad.” Here’s hoping that others will take this information and search further. Perhaps, their names can yet be discovered! When there names are found, the tag can be removed from that diary.

What Makes a Labor Martyr?

Julius Wayland
d. Nov 10, 1912

Most of the time this question is easy to answer. Workers go out on strike, and they are shot down in the streets, their union halls are raided and they are shot down in their own hall, or dragged out of the hall tortured and hung; they are put into filthy cold crowed jails, beaten and battered, and then refused medical care. Machine guns were very efficient means of murdering working people without much exertion on the part of the military, the police, the gunthugs, the deputies, etc. These are the easy cases to decide.

But what of workers driven to suicide through persecution? Or the lawyer who worked himself into an early grave with a bleeding ulcer on behalf of his unjustly convicted union clients? The old man kept in the same cold cellar cell as Mother Jones who got sick there and died soon after release? The young man, a neighbor to the Ludlow Tent Colony, who caught a stray bullet and was killed? Reasonable people can disagree on these questions. The answer as to who should be considered a Labor Martyr is not always completely clear.

Hellraisers Journal

Mother Jones,
“You ought to be out raising hell.”

[Hellraisers Journalhttp://www.dailykos.com/blog/Hellraisers%20Journal] is designed to keep me on track with the WE NEVER FORGET diaries. It’s less than perfect system. I’m still behind from when I went on vacation in August, and events are producing more and more Martyrs. Hellraisers is good at forcing me to work hard at catching up. Also, because of the Hellraisers diaries, I can simply write about the martyrs without going into the entire history of the strike. I’m not saying that I won’t write anymore diaries like [this onehttp://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/04/20/1083217/-WE-NEVER-FORGET-April-20-1914-The-Ludlow-Masscre] or [this onehttp://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/05/30/1092207/-WE-NEVER-FORGET-Spring-1912-The-San-Diego-Free-Speech-Fight], but the Martyrs didn’t always die in big events, they were often shot down casually here and there, and their names were lost to history. Those Martyrs deserve to be remembered also. And now, with Hellraisers giving the back-ground story, I can write these diaries with much less difficulty.

Hellraisers Journal will cover the period 1897 to (but not including) 1922, covering the life and times of Mother Jones. This will take 10 years (God willing and creek don’t rise.) These were the most active years of Mother Jones. This will cover 25 years of the 51 years that I want to eventually cover for the Labor Martyrs Project. And these are the years that I know the best, so, for me, that’s a good place to start.

[Today's Hellraisers Journal:http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/10/13/1246838/-Hellraisers-Journal-Mother-Jones-Remembers-Virden-Martyrs-at-Union-Miners-Cemetery-in-Mt-Olive] “Mother Jones Remembers Virden Martyrs at Union Miners’ Cemetery in Mt Olive.”

Something’s gotta give!

And so, some of the readers of Hellraisers may have noticed that I’ve stopped covering modern day events. This is regrettable, but unavoidable if I’m going to keep up with the Labor Martyrs Project. A lot goes into research, reviewing, comparing sources, compiling and integrating my notes, etc. There are books on the shelf that need to be read, and many more books on my list to buy. As well as books I’ve already read that need to be reviewed as I write. Therefore, I’ve made the decision to focus exclusively on the Labor Martyrs Project which includes both Hellraisers Journal and WE NEVER FORGET.

Future Plans

I own the domain name WE NEVER FORGET as dot com and as dot org & a few others also. Eventually, I hope to republish everything to one of them (probably dot org.) This is way off in the future as I have zero expertise in web site building.

I want to thank everyone who has read my diaries, tipped & rec’d them, repub’d them, and invited me to join groups so that I can repub them myself. Special thanks to gooderservice, Brae, and ruleoflaw, Big Al, and others who visit every day or almost every day.

Solidarity,
JayRaye

I Am a Union Woman-Leenya Rideout

[The bosses ride fine horses
While we walk in the mud.
Their banner is a dollar sign
While ours is striped with blood.

-Aunt Molly Jacksonhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O25Oy0RsJkA]

Photos:

Joe Hill’s Ashes:

http://levantium.com/2011/09/05/gilded-age-barons-labor-day-2011/

Names of Ludlow Martyrs by Kossack [MKSinSAhttp://www.dailykos.com/user/MKSinSA],
for which I am eternally grateful!

The Ludlow Monument (with larger view):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ludlow_Monument_Cropped.jpg

Wesley Everest:

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAeverest.htm

Julius A Wayland:

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAwaylandJ.htm

Entire Poem by Richard Myers here:

http://www.workingclassheroes.me/?p=2182

Books Mentioned:

Labor’s Untold Story
-by Richard O. Boyer & Herbert M. Morais
United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America, 1979)

Buried Unsung
Louis Tikas and the Ludlow Massacre

-by Zeese Papanikolas
U of Utah Press, 1982

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Mother Jones and the Children’s Crusade by JayRaye

5:34 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

The Great Philadelphia Textile Strike of 1903

Mother Jones Marker At City Hall (Philadelphia, PA)

Mother Jones Marker At City Hall (Philadelphia, PA)

The Central Textile Workers Union of Philadelphia held a meeting the evening of May 27, 1903. A vote was taken and a general strike call was issued. That general strike eventually caused 100,000 textile workers to go out on strike in the Philadelphia area. 16,000 of those were children under the age of 16, some as young as 8 or 9 years of age. The textile industry of the day employed children at a higher rate than any other industry. The number given from the 1900 census was 80,000. In cotton textiles, they made up 13.1% of the work force, and that rate reached 30% in the South.

The Central Textile Workers’ Union issued this statement:

Thirty-six trades, representing 90,000 people, ask the employers to reduce working hours from sixty to fifty-five hours a week. They are willing that wages be reduced accordingly. They strike for lower wages in an effort to get shorter hours.
Three trades, representing 10,000 people, ask for the same reduction in working hours, but, in addition, they ask for the same weekly wages or a slight increase, averaging ten per cent.

The request for shorter hours is made primarily for the sake of the children and women. For six years the organized textile workers of Philadelphia have been trying in vain to persuade the politician-controlled Legislature of Pennsylvania to pass a law which would reduce the working hours of children and women and stop them from doing night work.

Average wages for adults for 60 hours of work were $13. Children working 60 hours(!) got $2.

On Monday June 1st, at least 90,000 textile workers went out on strike in the Philadelphia area. Of the 600 mills in the city, about 550 were idle. Philadelphia now had more workers out on strike than at any other time in her history. Several thousand workers had already been on strike before the textile strike began, including: the carriage and wagon builders, and the carpenters along with others working in the building trades. It appeared that the city would be in for a long hot summer.

By the next day, Tuesday, the strike spread to the hosiery mills, increasing the army of idle workers by 8,000 Most of these were women and children employed in the Kensington district. This class of workers was unorganized, but they decided to join the ranks of the unionist in other branches of the textile trade as they witnessed the magnitude of the fight for a shorter work week. The Manufacturers vowed they would not submit to the union demands even if they had to shut down their factories indefinitely.

Mother Jones in Philadelphia

By June 17th, Mother Jones was in Philadelphia ready to lend her assistance to the fight. Mother considered child labor to be the worst of the industrial sins. She later described what she witnessed in Philadelphia:

Every day little children came into Union Headquarters, some with their hands off, some with the thumb missing, some with their fingers off at the knuckle. They were stooped little things, round shouldered and skinny. Many of them were not over ten years of age, although the state law prohibited their working before they were twelve [actually, 13] years of age.

The law was poorly enforced and the mothers of these children often swore falsely as to their children’s age. In a single block in Kensington, fourteen women, mothers of twenty-two children all under twelve, explained it was a question of starvation or perjury. That the fathers had been killed or maimed at the mines.

On Thursday June 18th, 30,000 textile strikers marched to City Hall. They marched through the city of Philadelphia with Mother Jones in the lead, a little girl striker on each side of her. The streets were full of banners and signs:

 

We want justice!

We want to go to school!

We want time to eat our meals and think!

Mother later described her speech::

I put the little boys with their fingers off and hands crushed and maimed on a platform. I held up their mutilated hands and showed them to the crowd and made the statement that Philadelphia’s mansions were built on the broken bones, the quivering hearts and drooping heads of these children. That their little lives went out to make wealth for others. That neither state or city officials paid any attention to these wrongs. That they did not care that these children were to be the future citizens of the nation.

The officials of the city hall were standing in the open windows. I held the little ones of the mills high up above the heads of the crowd and pointed to their puny arms and legs and hollow chests. They were light to lift.

I called upon the millionaire manufacturers to cease their moral murders, and I cried to the officials in the open windows opposite, “Some day the workers will take possession of your city hall, and when we do, no child will be sacrificed on the altar of profit.”

The officials quickly closed the windows, just as they had closed their eyes and hearts.

The Children’s Crusade Begins

John Spargo, editor of The Comrade was in Philadelphia assisting Mother Jones with her efforts to aid the strikers. Both were frustrated that there was little press coverage of the strike. Efforts to raise money for the strikers had been disappointing, and the strikers’ relief fund was running low. Mother Jones later describe the reason for the lack of publicity:

I asked the newspaper men why they didn’t publish the facts about child labor in Pennsylvania. They said they couldn’t because the mill owners had stock in the papers.
“Well, I’ve got stock in these little children,” said I, “and I’ll arrange a little publicity.”

The national tour of the Liberty Bell gave Mother the idea to arrange a tour for the little children who were striking for “some of the freedom of childhood.” And Mother Jones made plans to leave from Kensington with an “army” of 300 men, women, and children, heading east.

On Tuesday July 7th at 11 o’clock in the morning, Mother Jones began what came to be called “The Children’s Crusade.” Starting from the Kensington Labor Lyceum, she led her “Industrial Army” out of Kensington toward the northeastern Philadelphia neighborhood of Torresdale where they would camped for the night. The army was accompanied by fifes and drums, American flags, and union banners.

Before leaving Kensington, Mother gave an interview to the North American where she explained her reasons for undertaking the Children’s Crusade:

The sight of little children at work in mills when they ought to be at school or at play always rouses me. I found the conditions in this city deplorable, and I resolved to do what I could to shorten the hours of toil of the striking textile workers so as to gain more liberty for the children and women. I led a parade of children through the city-the cradle of Liberty-but the citizens were not moved to pity by the object lesson

The curse of greed so pressed on their hearts that they could not pause to express their pity for future men and women who are being stunted mentally, morally, and physically, so that they cannot possibly become good citizens. I cannot believe that the public conscience is so callous that it will not respond. I am going out of Philadelphia to see if there are people with human blood in their veins.

I am going to picture capitalism and caricature the money-mad. I am going to show Wall Street the flesh and blood from which it squeezes its wealth. I am going to show President Roosevelt the poor little things on which the boasted commercial greatness of our country is built. Not one single Philadelphia minister of Christ’s Gospel has so much as touched on the textile strike in this city. I shall endeavor to arouse sleeping Christians to a sense of their duty towards the poor little ones.

Understand me, I do not blame the manufacturers individually. They are, I repeat, victims of the competitive system. But I do blame society for allowing such evils to exist and to grow without an effort to destroy them. God help the nation if something is not done for a day of reckoning will surely come and with it bloody revolution.

John Spargo accompanied the Children Crusade for the first few days of the march. Spargo was the editor of The Comrade, and in the [August 1903] issue of that magazine, we can find photos of the first day of the march.
(p.253)

Marching in the Summer Heat
Read the rest of this entry →

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: We Need to Support Walmart Workers’ #Ride4Respect by JayRaye

2:40 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

Organization United for Respect at Walmart

#Ride4Respect

Right now as you read this, Walmart Workers are on buses and they are caravanning from various cities to Bentonville, Arkansas where Walmart will be holding its annual shareholders meeting on June 7th. They plan to make their presence known by urging Walmart to stop its retaliation against associates who dare to speak out about working conditions. The #Ride4Respect uses the Freedom Riders of the Civil Rights Movement for inspiration. Completely appropriate, in my book. The fight for our rights as workers is a struggle for civil and human rights. Workers are American Citizens, and we are human beings. We don’t stop being Human Beings and Citizens when we pass through the doors of our place of employment.

One of the rights guaranteed to working people by U.S. Labor Law, is the right to speak out about the conditions of labor, and to do so without retaliation from our employer. That retaliation is illegal! Walmart’s retaliation has not ceased, in spite of denial that it exists, and in spite of promises to stop this retaliation (which they deny exists!) This is where the Unfair Labor Practice Strike comes into the picture. Striking Walmart Workers are a big part of the #Ride4Respect. This strike is historic as it will be the first prolonged ULP strike made by Walmart Workers. They are taking OUR Walmart’s fight for respect to another level.

Lisa Lopez walks and gives notice of ULP strike.
A Woman of Courage has put on her fighting clothes!
Mother Jones would be proud!

Impunity!

Now here’s the thing. Walmart should not be able to break labor law with impunity. Neither should workers have to put their jobs on the line to enforce labor law. Like any other crime, we should be able to report the crime, and the cops should show up and put the handcuffs on the culprit, namely Walmart….Yeah…right! We were threatened with arrest at our Black Friday Demo in San Antonio for putting our feet on Walmart’s grass! Six squad cars were there in jiffy when Walmart made their complaint.

So, OK, I’m stating the obvious here: Justice is not blind in America. She sees clearly who butters her bread. Walmart breaks labor laws, retaliates against workers illegally, endangers workers, practices wage theft. And if not done directly by Walmart, then by their supply chain. For which they claim no responsibility, but are ready and willing to claim the profits. They break labor laws with the impunity, meaning they know that no one will come to arrest them.

Therefore, it is up to the workers to put their jobs on the line to enforce labor laws themselves. These are low-wage workers who face hardship from the loss of even one day’s wages. Many of them can expect to be out of work for awhile, until their case is settled. Unless, of course, the case goes against them, in which case, they are just plain out of luck.

A 27 page report documenting Walmart’s abusive and retaliatory labor practices can be downloaded here: http://www.americanrightsatwork.org/.

Organizing Community Support

There is a movement afoot to organize Changing Walmart Teams on a community by community basis. I have been on three conference calls in the past three weeks which have included representatives from Making Change at Walmart, Jobs with Justice, and OUR Walmart. All of this is still in the planning stages, so I won’t go too far into it here. But I can say (speaking only for myself) that building strong local, ongoing, support teams is the most important thing we can do to support Walmart Workers.

This is going to be a long fight! We need to organize community support with a view to the long haul. Small, solid support groups, ready to step outside of the comfort zone. Groups that can hang together and offer real long-term support, and not just organized for one event.

Low-wage workers are finding the courage to stand up, we need to find the courage to stand beside them.

Supporting Low-wage workers is in our interest!

Let me make it plain, that I support the Walmart Workers and other low-wage workers because it is the right and moral thing to do. They are our Fellow Workers, and we care what happens to them.
When will we ever learn?
An injury to one is an injury to all!

But I also want to point out that fighting for low-wage workers is in the interest of the entire working class, from the highest to the lowest paid workers. Trickle-down is a crock of crap. I think all of us would agree on that point. In fact, the welfare of the working class is built from the bottom up, not from the top down. The higher the standard of living that we ensure for lowest paid workers, the better for the rest of us. When the boot of the ruling class comes to grind us down, we need to make sure that there is a limit (as a class!) to how much of a grinding we will take. Sad to say, the American working class has never established that limit. We allow the least among us to be ground down into dust.

Nothing has hurt the American working class more over the years, then its willingness (as a class) to buy into the ruling class notion that middle class workers are being robbed by the poor. Nothing. And then add to that racism and sexism, and we are screwed. But we screw ourselves by eating the load of crap that the ruling class feeds us.

We now have a chance to make a real change for the better. Imagine the American working class with Walmart Workers, Fast Food Workers, and Warehouse Workers solidly organized! What a difference it would make for all of us.

I mean, really, sit down in quiet place and imagine that for a few minutes!
Then get up and start working to make it happen!

William Z Foster: The Importance of Organizing the Unorganized

The question of organizing the many millions of unorganized workers is the most vital matter now before the America labor movement. The future progress of the working class depends upon the solution of this great problem.

The organization of the unorganized is a life and death question for the labor movement. To bring the millions into the unions is necessary not only for the protection of the unorganized workers, and to further class ends in general, but also to safeguard the life of the existing organizations. Many of the trade unions are now under such heavy attacks from the employers that their very existence is threatened. These struggles can be resolved favorably to the workers only by drawing to their support the great mass of unorganized….

Failure of the unions to strengthen their ranks now by the inclusion of vast masses of the unorganized will expose them to the most deadly dangers in the slack industrial period that is not far ahead, when the employers will renew their “open shop” campaign of destruction against the unions with redoubled vigor.

True then, true now.

SOURCES

Making Change at Walmart
http://makingchangeatwalmart.org/

OUR Walmart
Organization United for Respect at Walmart
http://forrespect.org/

NLRB Employee Rights
http://www.nlrb.gov/rights-we-protect/employee-rights

Organize the Unorganized
-by William Z Foster
Chicago TUEL, 1926
Chapter I-”The Importance of Organizing the Unorganized”
http://archive.org/details/OrganizeTheUnorganized

For further study:
An interesting article on ULP strikes from LaborNotes.com:
http://www.labornotes.org/2012/08/making-sure-strike-centers-unfair-labor-practices

Who comes to speak for the skin and the bone?
WE DO!!

Follow the #Ride4Respect

https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Ride4respect&src=hash

SIGN THIS PETITION
Stand with Walmart Workers/Petition for June 7
http://action.changewalmart.org/page/s/stand-with-strikers

DONATE
https://donate.changewalmart.org/page/contribute/direct-fr?source=20130530_mcaw

JOIN/PLAN AN EVENT
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Connect with OUR Walmart
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In Solidarity,
JayRaye

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Anti-Capitalist Meetup: The West Virginia Court-Martial of Mother Jones by JayRaye

5:30 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

From the cover of the International Socialist Review of March 1913

MOTHER JONES ARRIVES IN WEST VIRGINIA

June 11, 1912
Charleston Gazette
Interview with Mother Jones

I am simply a social revolutionist. I believe in collective ownership of the means of wealth. At this time the natural commodities of this country are cornered in the hands of a few. The man who owns the means of wealth gets the major profit, and the worker, who produces the wealth from the means in the hands of the capitalist, takes what he can get. Sooner or later, and perhaps sooner than we think, evolution and revolution will have accomplished the overturning of the system under which we now live, and the worker will have gained his own.

This change will come as the result of education. My life work has been to try to educate the worker to a sense of the wrongs he has had to suffer, and does suffer-and to stir up the oppressed to a point of getting off their knees and demanding that which I believe to be rightfully theirs. When force is used to hinder the worker in his efforts to obtain the thing which are his he has the right to meet force with force. He has the right to strike for what is his due, and he has no right to be satisfied with less. The people want to do right , but they have been hoodwinked for ages. They are now awakening, and the day of their enfranchisement is near at hand.
[Reprinted in the March 1913 issue of the International Socialist Review.http://archive.org/stream/InternationalSocialistReview1900Vol13/ISR-volume13#page/n683/mode/2up/search/648] (pdf!)

Mother Jones gave this interview shortly after her arrival in Charleston. She came by train from Butte, Montana where she had been working with the copper miners of the Western Federation of Miners. Now, she was in West Virginia to assist the the striking miners of the United Mine Workers of America. The miners of Paint Creek were striking for renewal of their contract. The operators were refusing to sign a new contract preferring instead to bust the Union. At issue were all of the usual grievances: dangerous conditions, short weights, payment in company scrip, poor housing, low wages, blacklisting, poor medical care, and never-ending debt. But above all, the miners hated the brutal company-guard system.

To break the strike, the operators had contracted with the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency which supplied them with three hundred gun-thugs who began a campaign of terror against the miners and their families. Even before Mother Jones arrived, there had been clashes with the company guards, and loss of life on both sides. The guards had more weapons, including machine guns, but the miners had more men, seven thousand by some accounts.

MOTHER JONES BRINGS OUT CABIN CREEK

Cabin Creek was known as “forbidden territory.” Miner [Frank Keeneyhttp://www.wvencyclopedia.org/articles/1172] was not afraid to enter, but could find no one to go with him until early August when he found Mother Jones. Miner [Fred Mooneyhttp://www.wvencyclopedia.org/articles/2028] later told the story:

He [Frank Keeney] proceeded to locate Mother Jones and after a thorough understanding was reached, a date was set for Mother Jones to go into the forbidden territory. I was standing on the bridge at Cabin Creek Junction the day Mother Jones entered Cabin Creek. Her hair was snow white, but she could walk mile after mile and never show fatigue. When we saw her drive by in a horse drawn vehicle we knew the meaning of that visit and we fully expected to hear of her being killed by the gunmen. She arrived at Eskdale without mishap, but after she passed through the business center of town and as she approached the southern residence section a body of gunmen could be seen just ahead….

But she drove her rig near [to the gunmen] and one of the miners assisted her to alight. She surveyed the scene with a critical eye and walked straight up to the muzzle of one of the machine guns and patting the muzzle of the gun, said to the gunman behind it, “Listen here, you, you fire one shot here today and there are 800 men in those hills (pointing to the almost inaccessible hills to the east) who will not leave one of your gang alive.”

It was a bluff, there were no miners in those hills. But the bluff worked. Mother Jones held her mass meeting in Eskdale, and the miners of Cabin Creek joined the strike with Eskdale as a militant center of strike activity.

MOTHER JONES SPEAKS

Mother Jones Speaks

We have the stenographer hired by the operators to thank for the preservation of these speeches. These five speeches were later entered into the court-martial proceedings as evidence against Mother Jones. Full text of the August 15th speech can be read [here.http://voicesofdemocracy.umd.edu/mother-jones-speech-at-a-public-meeting-speech-text/]

August 1, 1912
Charleston, WV
Speech on the levee
from the back of a dray wagon:

…We have broken the chains of chattel slavery, we changed his condition from a chattel slave to wage slave. But you say we didn’t make it any better. Oh, yes, we did, we made it better for the chattel slave. Then we entered into industrial slavery. That was one step in advance. We forever wiped out chattel slavery and came into industrial slavery. Now, industrial slavery is the battle you are in….

Today we are four hundred thousand strong, marching on to liberty, marching on to freedom. We are the United Mine workers of America today numbering four hundred thousand….

August 4, 1912
Montgomery, WV
Speech at the baseball park:

…Now, the Judge said if the operators would quit paying the Baldwin guards they would leave the State. The operators don’t pay the Baldwin guards, they don’t pay them a penny. If it had to come out of their pockets the Baldwin guards would be gone long ago. The miners are robbed in the weighing of coal, in rent and in the store, they pay the Baldwin guards. (Applause.)

You are the fellows that have got the right to clean up the Baldwin guards because you are the fellows who pay them…

August 15, 1912
Charleston, West Virginia
Speech on the capitol steps:

[After first reading a petition to Governor Glasscock for removal of the armed company guards...]

I want to say with all due respect to the Governor-I want to say to you that the Governor will not, cannot do anything, for this reason: The Governor was placed in this building by Scott and Elkins [industrialists] and he don’t dare oppose them. (Loud applause.) Therefore, you are asking the Governor of the State to do something that he cannot do with out betraying the class he belongs to…

We will give the Governor until tomorrow night to take them guards out of Cabin Creek..Here on the steps of the Capitol of West Virginia, I say that if the Governor won’t make them go then we will make them go…

It is freedom or death, and your children will be free. We are not going to leave a slave class to the coming generation, and I want to say to you that the next generation will not charge us for what we have done, they will charge and condemn us for what we have left undone. (Cries of: “That is right.”)…

I see that hour. I see the Star breaking your chains; your chains will be broken, men. You will have to suffer more and more, but it won’t be long. There is an awakening among all the nations of the earth…

Oh, men, have you any hearts? Oh, men, do you feel? Oh, men, do you see the judgement day on the throne above, when you will be asked, “Where did you get your gold?” You stole it from these wretches. You murdered, you assassinated, you starved, you burned them to death, that you and your wives might have palaces, and that your wives might go to the sea-shore…

[They say] “Oh, them horrible miners. Oh, that horrible old Mother Jones, that horrible old woman.” I am horrible, I admit, and I want to be to you blood-sucking pirates. I want you, my boys, to buckle on your armor. This is the fighting age. This is not the age for cowards, put them out of the way…

This day marks the forward march of the workers in the state of West Virginia. Slavery and oppression will gradually die…The day of oppression will be gone. I will be with you whether true or false. I will be with you at midnight or when the battle rages, when the last bullet ceases, but I will be in my joy…

September 6, 1912
Charleston, WV
Speech in the courthouse square:

…When we were on the Capitol grounds the last time you came here, you had a petition to the Governor for a peacful remedy and solutiion ot this condition. The mine owners, the bankers, the plunderers of the State went in on the side door and got a hearing, and you didn’t. (Loud applause.)…

Now, then, go with me up those creeks, and see the blood-hounds of the mine owners, approved of by your public officials, see them insulting women, see them coming up the track. I went up there and they followed me like hounds But some day I will follow them. When I see them go to Hell, I will get the coal and pile it up on them….

Now then, let me ask you. When the miners-a miner that they have robed him of one leg in the mines and never paid him a penny for it-when he entered a protest, they went into his house not quite a week ago, and threw out his whole earthly belongings, and he and his wife and six children slept on the roadside all night. Now, you can’t contradict that. Suppose we had taken a mine owner and his wife and children and threw them out on the road and made them sleep all night, the papers would be howling “anarchy”…

The whole machinery of capitalism is rotten to the core. This meeting tonight indicates a milestone of progress of the miners and workers of the State of West Virginia. I will be with you, and the Baldwin guards will go. You will not be serfs, you will march, march, march on from milestone to milestone of human freedom, you will rise like men in the new day and slavery will get its death blow. It has got to die…

September 21, 1912
Charleston, WV
Speech on the lawn of the YMCA:

…We have entered West Virginia-I have – and a hundred thousand miners have pledged their support to me, “If you need us, Mother, we will be there.” Five thousand men last Sunday night said, “We are ready, Mother, when you call on us.” The revolution is here. We can tie up every wheel, every railroad in the State, when we want to do it. Tyranny, robbery and oppression of the people must go…

This strike ain’t going to end until we get a check-weighman on the tipple. That is the law. It is on the statute books-that your coal will be weighed…You miners here have stood for it [being robbed of weight], you have starved your children, starved yourselves, you have lived in dog-kennels -they wouldn’t build one for their dogs as bad as yours. You have lived in them and permitted them to rob you, and then got the militia for the robbers. You can get all the militia in the state, we will fight it to the finish-if the men don’t fight, the women will. They won’t stand for it….

I don’t worry about [jail], I am down at the Fleetwood when they want to put me in jail for violation of the law, come along for me, come. There is coming a day when I will take the whole bunch of you and put you in jail. (Applause.)

TRAVELING AND SPEAKING

Throughout that fall and winter, Mother Jones continued giving speeches for the miners. She led parades for the women and children, always advocating for the education of the miner’s children and end of child labor. She traveled to Cincinnati, Cleveland, New York, and Washington D.C, giving speeches and raising money for the strikers. Sadly, these speeches have not been recorded for history.

THE ATTACK ON HOLLY GROVE & THE BATTLE OF MUCKLOW

At about 11 PM on the night of February 7, 1913, the “Bull Moose Special,” an armored train equipped with machine guns, opened fire on the miners and their families at Holly Grove. Maud Estep later [testifiedhttp://www.wvculture.org/history/labor/paintcreekestep.html] that her husband, stiking miner, [Francis Estephttp://www.wvgenweb.org/wvcoal/estep.html] was shot dead as he tried to get his pregnant wife and son to safety in the cellar.

Three days later the miners marched in protest to Mucklow where they were met by the gun thugs. Twelve miners and four company guards died in the battle that followed. Governor Glasscock declared martial law in the strike zone, ordered six companies of militia to occupy the area, and established a military commission. A wave of arrests soon followed.

IN THE MILITARY BASTILLE

Mother Jones in the hands of the military.

On February 13, Mother Jones was in Charleston attempting to lead a protest march and speak with the Governor when she was taken into custody along with 125 other protesters. Charleston was outside the area of martial law, yet those arrested were transported into the martial law district and imprisoned in Pratt to await trial by the military court. The miners were held in harsh conditions, but Mother Jones was held in a [commandeered boardinghousehttp://www.nps.gov/nhl/DOE_dedesignations/Jones.htm], and cared for by the landlady, Isabel Carney.

Meanwhile, a new governor, Dr. Henry Hatfield, was sworn in on March 4, 1913. In later years he recalled traveling to the strike area where he found Mother Jones sick with pneumonia and with a temperature of 104 degrees. He recalled having her treated in Charleston and then returned to the boardinghouse prison, although there is no official record of this.

Visitors were forbidden, but one reporter did manage to get in to see her, A.J. Hollis of the Pittsburgh Leader who managed to interview her through the basement floorboards. He was detained for several hours in the bullpen for his efforts. An exception was made for Cora Older, wife of the editor of the San Francisco Bulletin, who quoted Mother Jones:

I can raise just as much hell in jail as anywhere.

Mother Jones did write letters from the military prison, perhaps smuggled out as she later remembered. She had some powerful allies in Washington D.C: William B Wilson, former UMWA official and, now Secretary of Labor, and also US Senators Borah and Kern. She was able to get messages out to all three of them. Some of her letters were published in the [Appeal to Reasonhttp://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAappealR.htm] and other socialist newspapers of the day. Other letters were more personal:

March 6, 1913
Letter to [Terence V. Powderlyhttp://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USApowderly.htm]
(as written, without correction):

Pratt W Va
Military Bastile
My dear friend
You no doubt have heard of my arrest by the hounds of capitalism they have me in close confinement-there are two military guarding me day and night. No one is allowed to speak to me. they squashed all constitutional rights and handed me over to the military. here I am-the first thing I will do if I am turned loose will be to go up and see you.
Tomorrow at ten o clock we will be taken before the Military Court for trial. They charge me and 3 national organizers besid the Editor of the Argus a local labor paper. neither one of us was in the marshall law zone they picked me up on the streets of Charleston-kidnaped me moved me with 2 others down in the military camp. here I am now for 22 days! not allowed to speak to anyone or see anyone. Just think of it I have lived 80 years and never before charged with any crime. Now I am charged with stealing a cannon from the Military-inciting to riot-putting dinamite under track to blow up A.C.O. road-We were not there at all. Just think what the tools of the olagarchy can descend to. I know they are death on me for I have cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars.
They came to me yesterday wanted to get a Lawyer & witnesses I refused to get either. I said if I have brok the Law of the State or nation I do not want any Lawyer or Witnesses. One fellow Said I should be Drummed out of the State. I have a lot to tell you when I see you God spare me the Heart to fight them Love to my dear Emma [Mrs Powderly] tell her not to worry-I’ll fight the Pirates forever.
Mother

THE COURT-MARTIAL OF MOTHER JONES

Friday, March 7, 1913, 10 AM
Pratt, West Virginia
From the Proceedings of the
Military Commission:

Mary Jones: Will you permit me to make a statement, General Wallace?
The Judge Advocate: Proceed, Mother.
Mary Jones: I have no defense to make. Whatever I have done in West Virginia, I have
done it all over the United States, and when I get out, I will do it again. The Judge Advocate: We will enter a plea of not guilty for you.

Mother Jones along with four other defendants refused to recognize the validity of the military court. Pleas of not guilty were entered for them. The forty-five other defendants pleaded not guilt and were provided counsel. The charges included murder and conspiracy to commit murder, and conspiracy to commit property damage, charges of being an accessory after the fact, and weapons charges. They were all facing long prison sentences, and even the death penalty was a possibility.

The five speeches noted above were entered as evidence by the prosecution in an attempt to prove that the Mother Jones had inflamed the miners and had caused them to murder company mine guards. When in fact, she had counseled only self-defense. The mine guards who died, were killed in battle with weapons in hand. Unlike Francis Estep who was shot and killed, unarmed, in his own home.

The editor of the socialist newspaper, Labor Argus was one of the defendants, and several pages from that newspaper were read into the record, including this:

It has always been said that it was a hard job to keep a woman’s mouth shut. Governor Glasscock is evidently of that opinion as he sent sixteen soldiers with guns and ammunition to keep an old woman over eighty years of age from making a speech and then failed. We would advise the Governor to send the whole regiment along the next time he wants to stop Mother Jones from speaking.

March 12, 1913
Captan Charles R Morgan for the defense:

Now, gentlemen, as to one of my clients, the aged lady, who has sat here so patiently and listened to the testimony…this old lady is fighting the battles of the laboring man and has been for years and years…

[Those] speeches that she made were made all the way back last summer, shortly after the poor old woman had waded the creek in order to get to the place she was going to speak. My God, it is enough to make the blood of an old woman boil when she is force to do things of that kind; when men-will stand on each side of the creek and force an old woman to march in the middle of it, in order that she may get up to say a few works to “the boys” that she-whose interest she thinks she is advancing-Where is there a single item of evidence connecting this old woman with the conspiracy, if a conspiracy has been shown, and which we say we do not think has been shown. Now, the state has failed.

The verdicts and sentences were submitted by the military commission to Governor Hatfield under seal, and were never revealed by the Governor. No official record has ever been found. However, many of the prisoners were soon released. Mother Jones was one of those who remained a prisoner of the military. According to Edward Steel, the “ringleaders” were kept as hostages to strengthen the Governor’s hand in forcing the the national leaders of the UMWA to accept his proposed settlement of the strike.

ON THE SENATE FLOOR

Meanwhile, Senator John W. Kern of Indiana, Democratic Majority Leader, had introduced a resolution calling for an investigation into the conditions of coal mining in West Virginia. During debate on the resolution, Senator Goff of West Virginia referred to Mother Jones as the “grandmother of all agitators.” Senator Kern then took the floor and read this telegram from Mother Jones into the Congressional Record:

Hansford, West Virginia
May 4, 1913
Senator Kern
Care Senate Chamber
Washington, D.C.
From out the military prison walls, where I have been forced to pass my eighty-first milestone of life., I plead with you for the honor of this Nation. I send you groans and tears of men, women, and children as I have heard them in this State, and beg you to force that investigation. Children yet unborn will rise and bless you.
Mother Jones

The Kern Resolution passed and the investigation eventually totaled over 2000 pages of testimony. The final report is available online and makes interesting reading:

U.S. Congress. Senate. Subcommittee of the Committee on Education and Labor. Investigations of Conditions in the Paint Creek District, West Virginia. 1913.
[Final Reporthttp://ia700202.us.archive.org/10/items/cu31924002217234/cu31924002217234.pdf] (pdf!)

The strike was eventually settled with some concessions by the operators as to checkwieghman, bimonthly pay, and a grievance procedure. But the hated company-guard system remained intact.

Mother Jones was released May 10th, and the last prisoners were released in June, about the time that the Senate committee arrived in West Virginia to begin hearing testimony.

MOTHER JONES AT CARNEGIE HALL

May 27, 1913
New York City
Speech at Carnegie Hall:

I hope you do not believe that, as Comrade Wanhope has said, that the miners of West Virginia simply decided casually “to take guns and do a share of the killing.” They got guns only wen it became clear that the authorities, acting on behalf of their masters would not accede to the just and peaceful requests of the miners.

I organized a meeting at which a committee was chosen to go to Charleston to present a petition to the Governor asking him to remove the Baldwin gunmen from the mine territory. We went, several thousand miners and myself to Charleston, and met on the grounds in front of the State Capitol. The Governor came out and heard the petition read….

The petition was unavailing. The guards were not removed. The men came back to Charleston, and held another meeting on the river bank. Then they went and bought up every gun in Charleston. They had appealed to the constituted authorities for protection, but they had failed, and they decided to fight for themselves-not because they favored violence but because they had no other choice.

Meanwhile, encouraged by the indifference of the Governor, the thugs began a veritable reign of terror. The war was then begun. Some guards were killed by miners in self protection, and the militia came. A short period of peace followed, and militia was withdrawn. This was the signal for the agents of the mine owners to intensify the war against the workers. Men, women and children were evicted from their home; miners were shot down in cold blood, and reign of terror grew even more terrible. When I protested the barbarism of the capitalists and their henchmen., I was deprived of all the rights of an American citizen and imprisoned in a military bastille for three months…

West Virginia is on trial before the bar of the nation. The military arrests and court-martial to which I and others were forced to undergo in West Virginia was the first move ever made by the ruling class to have the working class tried by military and not civil courts. It is up to the American workers to make sure that it is the last.

Mother Jones,
Grand Old Champion of Labor:

O’er the hills and through the valley
In ev’ry mining town;
Mother Jones was ready to help them,
She never turned them down.
On front with the striking miners
She always could be found;
And received a hearty welcome
In ev’ry mining town.

[The Death of Mother Jones, sung by Gene Autry, 1931https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDVqPxqW0KA]

SOURCES

Struggle in the coal fields:
the autobiography of Fred Mooney

With JW Hess
WV University Library, 1967

Mother Jones Speaks
Collected Writings and Speeches

Edited by Philip S Foner
NY, 1983

The Correspondence of
Mother Jones

Edited by Edward M Steel
U of Pittsburgh Press, 1985

The Speeches and Writings of
Mother Jones

U of Pettsburgh Press, 1988

The Court-Martial of
Mother Jones

Edited by Edward M Steel, Jr
U Press of Kentucky, 1995

The Mother Jones Museum

http://www.motherjonesmuseum.org/

(Amazing photo collection!)

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Working Class Radicals: The Socialist Party
in West Virginia, 1898-1920

by Frederick A. Barkey
WV U Press, 2012

And see this link for interview with Barkey:

http://wvgazette.com/Entertainment/Books/201301060031

A Union Man: The Life of C. Frank Keeney
Charles Belmont Keeney
Available here only:

http://www.worldcat.org/title/union-man-the-life-of-c-frank-keeney/oclc/47358602&referer=brief_results

The Autobiography of
Mother Jones

With Mary Field Parton
[Charles H Kerr Publishinghttp://www.charleshkerr.com/], 1990
Pittston Strike Commemorative Edition

This diary is dedicate to
Francesco Estep
Who lost his life in Freedom’s Cause.

Francis Estep, from Holly Grove, W. VA,
In 19 and 13 loaded coal, twelve hours a day.
Six days a week, 47 and a half cent a ton.
He was hot down by gun thugs
At the young age of 31.

So is this little marker his only memorial today?
For a man who gave his life to the UMWofA.
Is this how we remember all the sacrifices he made?
To let the briars and the weeds
Take over his union and grave?

-Hazel Dickens

Let us honor our Martyrs by keeping our Unions
strong and democratic.
Solidarity,
JayRaye

Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.
Mother Jones