In 1915 in Salt Lake City, Utah, IWW union organizer and labor troubadour Joe Hill was murdered by a firing squad. The effort to silence him failed and he has become one of the most famous labor organizers and musicians in the world.
It is a sick irony that Utah this year has reinstituted the firing squad for executions! Over 2 million mostly Black and Latino workers are in prison today in the United States and in California, more money is spent on the prison industry than on education.
Joe’s struggle for union and labor rights is as relevant today as it was in 1915. Millions of workers would like to have unions but are intimidated and bullied by companies like Walmart and Macdonald’s to fire workers who speak up. Walmart this year closed five stores including one in Pico Rivera, California for supposed “plumbing problems” which were really threats of union organizing.
Although this Walmart’s act is illegal, the corporations who run America and the world flagrantly ignore the laws and protections workers are supposed to have in this country.
Over 10,000 workers are fired every year in this country for union organizing and these are only the workers that have pursued NLRB lawsuits.
Joe Hill saw the struggle of workers and union rights as the most important struggle in his life, and he paid for it with his life.
LaborFest will honor the 100th anniversary of Joe Hill's death with a concert with labor troubadour David Rovics. Throughout the year, Rovics has been traveling in Europe in a series of concerts to commemorate the life and struggles of Joe Hill.
Rovics has performed throughout the world. His hard hitting songs for workers and human rights are powerful and moving. Also performing at the commemoration will be Carol Denney and Marcus Duskin.