Today in Labor History – January 17th

Pablo Manlapit

Filipino labor organizer, lawyer, and migrant-rights activist Pablo Manlapit was born. He moved to Hawaii as a young man and worked on several sugar plantations before pursuing a law degree. Hawaii’s first Filipino lawyer, Manlapit worked tirelessly to represent Filipino workers. He helped organize the Filipino Labor Union and was a leading figure in the plantation workers’ strikes of 1920 and 1924. Manlapit was deported in 1935. – 1891

Radical labor organizer and anarchist Lucy Parsons led a hunger march in Chicago. – 1915

Wobbly (IWW) Ralph Chapin published the famous labor song, “Solidarity Forever.” – 1915

Solidarity Forever
When the union’s inspiration through the workers blood shall run
There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun
Yet what force on Earth is weaker than the feeble force of one but
The union makes us strong

Chorus:
Solidarity Forever
Solidarity Forever
Solidarity Forever
For the union makes us strong

Is there aught we hold in common with the greedy parasite
Who would lash us into serfdom and would crush us with his might
Is there anything left to us but to organize and fight? For…
The union makes us strong

(Chorus)

It is we who plowed the prairies, build the cities where they trade
Dug the mines and build the workshops, endless miles of RR laid
Now we stand outcast and starving ‘mid the wonders we have made but
The union makes us strong

(Chorus)

They have taken untold millions that they never toiled to earn
But without our brain and muscle not a single wheel can turn
We can break their haughty power, gain our freedom when we learn that
The union makes us strong

(Chorus)

In our hands is placed a power greater than their hoarded gold
Greater than the might of armies magnified a thousand-fold
We can bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old for
But the union makes us strong

(Chorus)

President John Kennedy signed Executive Order 10988, recognizing the right of federal employees to bargain collectively. The order was a breakthrough for public sector workers, who were not protected under the 1935 Wagner Act. – 1962

The Holt Labor Library (San Francisco), which specialized in labor and radical history, fired both of its workers, Ali Bruce and Kurt Biddle. Both were involved in a union organizing effort at New College and the Holt Labor Library.  – 1997

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