I spent yesterday reading up on the part of labor history that wasn’t in my textbooks in school. I read about the Haymarket Affair where people advocating for the eight hour day became martyrs through a strange string of events.
I read about how Labor Day was originally on May 1 to honor those Haymarket martyrs. The day was originally called “International Worker’s Day” in solidarity with the worldwide worker’s movement now vilified as “socialism.” Because of this associate with radical politics, the day was moved to September and given the more innocuous name of “Labor Day.”
I read about the battle for Blair Mountain where coal miners grew tired of their co-workers and families being shot when they tried to unionize. When they finally took up arms, law enforcement officials that had turn an unseeing eye to violence done against the miners, unleashed the full force of the state to protect moneyed interests- including aerial bombing.
Yesterday, I remembered that the champions of labor who struggled for the eight hour day, and got children out of mines, were not the Democrats or the Republicans. They were the anarchists and socialists who have now been written out of the official story. The sad thing is that the meager protections they purchased with their blood, are being now undone in the name of deregulating business and setting captial free.