One hundred years ago this coming November, legendary songwriter and Wobbly Joe Hill was executed by the state of Utah. To celebrate the life and spirit of Joe Hill, we have created an all-day concert in Salt Lake City at Sugar House Park (a few hundred yards from where Joe was killed) with fine musicians in a variety of styles and with creative activism. The all day festivities will be held Saturday, September 5th, from 11:30AM – 10PM.
During the past hundred years since Joe Hill’s death, we have seen significant improvements in labor rights and protections. But, with the advent of big money into big politics, these basic reforms such as the 8-hour day, fair wages, and worker protections are now under threat of total obliteration by today’s monied politicians.
Which is why Joe Hill’s story remains significant and relevant for today. He addressed the concerns that are now plaguing the 21st century: a new economic order that brings rising inequality and the myth of a classless society; the consequences of free speech and dissent; the separation of church and state; the right to a fair trial; the definitions of patriotism and democracy. Hill wrote about all of these critical issues in a manner that reached millions of workers and that has made him, in the words of the New York Times a day after he was killed in 1915, “much more dangerous to social stability than he was when alive.”
Contributing to this post:
Recording Secretary Emeritus, SEIU Local 1021
Warner Woodworth says
Thanks for going into all the work it takes for a memorial celebration. I’m looking forward to drive up to SLC & being at Sugar House Park today. As a long-term member of the IWW, it’s going to be fun celebrating Joe Hill’s legacy this afternoon & evening. Perhaps the only other dues-paying member in Utah at some point was that of my old friend & folk singer, Utah Phillips. I’ve taught stories about Joe from books & pamphlets over decades while being an MBA professor at BYU. Teaching the importance of organized labor in American society was a part of my efforts to show students the problems of union-busting, de-industrialization, CEO greed, off-shore manufacturing, & the decline of trade union power. I also fought plant shutdowns across the Midwest, & pushed for the resurgence of labor’s power in industry. I labored with my union brothers & sisters in fighting against U.S. Steel Co., & partnered with the U.S. Steelworkers, Glassworkers, Rubberworkers, etc. over the years. One of the more significant efforts was my being appointed by the UAW to be a union representative on the board of directors of a worker buyout in New Jersey where we fought GM for a decade. In my Marriott School classes I’d show Bo Widerberg’s “Joe Hill” movie, & played the musical video, “I Dreamed I saw Joe Hill Last Night” song performed marvelously by Joan Baez. Joe’s vision & the IWW’s clout is still vibrant. Today & forever, may we never forget!
Joe Hill Organizing Committee says
Warner, thanks for the message. Every time a student hears these ideas in class (especially at BYU—wow), it will help to counter the nonsense they hear about organized labor from the press and the powerful. Thank you.