Monday, November 7, 2011

Today in Labor History—November 7

Public domain
November 7, 1912 – Enest Riebe's "Mr. Block," IWW labor comic strip first appeared in print. Mr. Block was one of the best-loved features in the Wobbly press. Joe Hill wrote a song about "Mr. Block," who was a boss-loving, American Dream-believing, self-sabotaging knucklehead. Some call Riebe the first "underground" comic book artist.  (From the Daily Bleed)
Mr. Block (by Joe Hill)

1.  Please give me your attention, I'll introduce to you
    A man who is a credit to the ["Our] old Red White and Blue["]
    His head is made of lumber and solid as a rock
    He is a common worker and his name is Mr. Block
    And Block [he] thinks he may be premier [President] some day

    Oh Mr. Block, you were born by mistake
    You take the cake, you make me ache
    [Go] tie a rock on your block and then jump in the lake
    Kindly do that for Liberty's sake!

2.  Yes, Mr. Block is lucky - he got a job, by gee!
    The shark got seven dollars for job and fare and fee
    They shipped him to a desert and dumped him with his truck
    But when he tried to find his job he sure was out of luck
    He shouted, "That's too raw! I'll fix them with the law!"

3.  Block hiked back to the city but wasn't doing well
    He said "I'll join the union, the great AF of L".
    He got a job that morning, got fired by the night
    He said, "I'll see Sam Gompers and he'll fix that foreman right!"
    Sam Gompers said, "You see, you've got our sympathy."

4.  Election day he shouted, "A Socialist for Mayor!"
    The comrade got elected [and] he happy was for fair
    But after the election he got an awful shock
    [When] a great big socialistic bull did rap him on the block
    And Comrade Block did sob, "I helped him get his job!"

5.  Poor Block he died one evening, I'm very glad to state
    He climbed the golden ladder up to the pearly gate
    He said, "Oh Mister Peter, one thing I'd like to tell
    I'd like to meet the Astorbilts and John D Rockerfell!"
    Old Pete said, "Is that so? You'll meet them down below!"

Tune: It Looks to me Like a Big Time Tonight.  from Al Grierson,
by Joe Hill, in 13th ed. of the Little Red Songbook

November 7, 1915 – Emiliano Zapata proposed a new labor law that included an 8-hour day, prohibition of work for children under age 14, worker cooperatives to run factories abandoned by owners, and a fixed minimum wage. (From the Daily Bleed)
German Revolutionaries Summarily Executed, March 1919, During Counter-Revolution from the Deutsches Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archive)
 November 7, 1918 – The imprisonment of 600 sailors during the Kiel Mutiny in Germany led to a general uprising. Within months, the Independent Social Democrats, who were heading the provisional government, were overthrown by the Bavarian Raterepublik, composed of Workers', Soldiers', and Farmers' Councils. Those fighting the socialists included anarchists and anti-authoritarian communists like Erich Mühsam, Gustav Landauer, Ernst Toller and Ret Marut (who became known as the novelist B. Traven after fleeing the counterrevolution and living in exile in Mexico). (From the Daily Bleed)

IWW Union Office Ransacked During Palmer Raid
November 7, 1919 – The first Red Scare, or "Palmer’s Reign of Terror," began in the U.S. on this date with the imprisonment of 3,000 anarchists without bail at Ellis Island. During the Palmer raids, hundreds of anarchists, communists, union leaders and other radicals were rounded up, imprisoned, deported and even killed. (From the Daily Bleed)

November 7, 1959 - The U.S. Supreme Court used the Taft-Hartley Act to break a steel strike. Taft-Hartley was passed in 1947, in the wake of the 1946 Oakland General Strike. It severely limited strike activities, specifically prohibited sympathy strikes and General Strikes, and was essentially a giveaway to employers helping pave the way for the progressive weakening of the U.S. labor movement. (From Workday Minnesota)

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