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History On Our Side, If We Use It

Well, the robber barons are back in charge and the unions are at their lowest numbers since the last time the robber barons were in charge. The last time they had control the workers rose up and organized even though their ranks were split. There were the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and the American Federation of Labor (AFL), some were the coal miners, some were the Teamsters, they all seemed at times to be fighting each other, but in today’s fight there is no room for that type of bickering. We need to have a little of all types of organizations, even the ideology of the International Workers of the World (IWW) also called the Wobblies. We, at this time, just cannot afford to be split for the new government, which is antiunion will throw everything at us. They will have the attorney general, the U.S. Supreme Court, law enforcement, the National Guard and new laws that will be signed into effect to control protests and strikes, which can result in huge fines or jail time if law enforcement doesn’t shoot you or beat you or blast pepper spray at you. If they use these tactics it could backfire on them for the workers would then have to go underground and all tactics would change on both sides, and the fight could go for years and years. It is best for the GOP antiunion people to not drive us underground for we workers do have experience and history on how to fight underground. Think of the Molly Maguires, which was an organization of coal miners, who worked in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. They mostly came from Ireland between 1830 through 1855. The Molly Maguires had power throughout the coal regions. The Mollys were an offshoot of the organizations known as the AOH or the Ancient Order of the Hibernians. According to the AOH’s website, “Herb Gutman, the late American Labor Historian pointed out that it was the immigrants who supported the organization of labor in large numbers. The Irish had seen their people and economy destroyed in Ireland and were determined that it would not happen here. From the very beginning of the unions as a workers protective society, the Irish were there. The 20 men hanged in the Pinkerton Union busting in the Pennsylvania coal fields were all Irish; they were members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians who were given the label: Molly Maguires. They made it possible for men like John Mitchel to give the Mineworkers the solid union they have today …“ The Molly Maquires even went into politics in both democratic and republican parties. They were finally brought down by a person planted in their organization, these are different times so the workers could very well win this time. There was also the Farmers' movement, called the Grange, or Order of the Patrons of Husbandry, was a secret order founded in 1867 to advance the social needs and combat the economic exploitation of farmers by buyers of their produce and meats. I hope we can keep the fight above ground, but we, workers, do have alternatives. There are many play books for us to use. The Mollys and the IWW are just two of the many we can emulate.

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