Labor Heroes and the Class Struggle
By Brendan Phillips
As May Day approaches, I reflect on great on labor heroes. People like Mary Harris Jones, Big Bill Haywood, and Joe Hill. Those who helped bring us the eight hour workday, sick time, maternal leave, and other worker protections. They showed us the power of unionization, solidarity, and direct action. We saw what lengths the ruling class will go to protect their power at Haymarket Square, when they went so far as to murder labor activists.
I was fortunate to be taught about this history by my grandfather; folksinger and labor activist Utah Phillips. This is not history I would have been taught in school. Growing up listening to his stories and music, I came of age wanting to know more. He inspired an early interest in labor history, and the struggles of the working class.
Here we on yet another May Day, now over a hundred years since the execution of Joe Hill in Salt Lake City. Still the class war wages on, and the worker continues to be exploited by the ruling class. Heroes like Joe Hill shared a message of worker ownership, a democratic workplace, and an abolition of the wage system.... and that dream has proven illusive. The GPUS continues to share this message today through our platform and politics, with the hopes of making that dream a reality.
Now as much as ever, we must show solidarity with our fellow workers, and rise up against the shackles of capitalism. We must return the capital to the worker, and redistribute the wealth. We must continue the fight of previous labor heroes, so that one day all workers can be liberated from their oppressors.
"Don't mourn, organize." - Joe Hill
Brendan Phillips is a stay-at-home dad of two boys, musician & DJ, activist & grandson of musician/dissenter, U.Utah Phillips. The 34-year-old was also Green Party write-in candidate for Utah’s Congressional District 3 special election in 2017.