From Haymarket to Little (Republic) Steel

This is the web site for the Waldheim Cemetery, with pics and a virtual tour including the Haymarket martyrs burial site and others associated with the radical movement: .  The link takes you directly to Haymarket, and you can scroll forward or backward from that spot.

The Illinois Labor History Society maintains a connection to a number of resource materials on Haymarket, which you can access here.  Examples of what can be found include an extensive archive on the Haymarket massacre, a section on Pullman and the Memorial Day massacre, and a full list of labor events of significance in May (from May Day to the Republic Steel massacre on Memorial Day).

Chicago also boasts the presence of Charles Kerr publishers. “In the wake of Haymarket and of the 1894 Pullman strike, the property question was to become an increasingly sharp concern for Kerr and for his wife, the feminist temperance advocate, May Walden. After first embracing the monetary reform ideas of the Populist movement, the couple accepted socialism at the century’s turn. A 1900 Kerr Company catalog suggests the expansive range of interests which the publishing house brought with it in joining forces with the organized left, promising books ‘on socialism, free thought, economics, history, hygiene, American fiction, etc.'” The

Haymarket Scrapbook 0882861476 $19 paperback

press continues this tradition today, including a number of books on Haymarket.  The Haymarket Scrapbook is the most authoritative single volume of source materials from people engaged in the trade union movement and the movement for the 8 hour day at the time.

If the May Day celebrates a workers’ holiday that hearkens back to the coming together of the first mass movement of the working class throughout the nation, then the Republic Steel massacre, on May 30 1937 marks the beginning of a period in  which the militant labor movement suffers a dramatic setback and decline.  Novelist Howard Fast wrote this account of Memorial Day 1937 from the perspective of a half-century’s hindsight.

Here Leon DePres is seen on video talking about the Republic steel massacre; “Site of the Memorial Day Massacre in 1937 when workers at Republic Steel joined 85,000 workers at other steel plants in a mass strike organized by the CIO’s Steel Workers Organizing Committee (SWOC). To stop the picketing, approximately 200 Chicago police officers set up a barrier across 117th Street. In a matter of minutes the police fired over 200 shots, four marchers were fatally shot, six other were mortally wounded, and thirty others suffered gunshot wounds. The gunshot wounds of the dead were all back or side wounds. The accompanying photograph shows the melee in progress with police officers and others wielding clubs against demonstrators.”

1894 massacre at “Little Steel”


From the Streets of NY to the streets of Arizona

The murder of Amadou Diallou reverberates in the Arizona SB1070.  Here is the Bruce Springsteen led E Street band performing 41 Shots.

Photos of California Immigrant Workers: An Exhibit


Farm Workers
Photographs by David Bacon

Irene Carlson Gallery of Photography
University of La Verne
La Verne, California
through May 21, 2010
9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday

Gallery Statement:

While American Agriculture’s dependence on migrant farm labor is evident, when placed in contrast with the dire circumstances these essential workers experience while helping make food available for the world market, it is hard to imagine a larger disparity between necessityand compensation.

For nearly two decades, David Bacon has documented the struggles experienced by immigrant workers and their families, detailing the challenges and conditions faced by these often overlooked members of society in a number of highly acclaimed books, articles and photo series, all providing the public a glimpse of a community that otherwise often goes unseen.

“Farm Workers” shows the hard working conditions faced by these communities. The images highlight the issue of immigration and show the consequences of economic dislocation in Mexico. The exhibit – a partnership between Bacon and California Rural Legal Assistance and its Indigenous Farm Worker Project – is supported by the Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations (FIOB), a network of Mexican indigenous communities in the U.S. and Mexico. The communities documented include Mixtecos, Triquis, Zapotecos, Chatinos, and Purepechas living in San Diego, Coachella, Arvin, Oxnard and Santa Paula, Santa Maria, Fresno and Selma, Salinas and Greenfield, Santa Rosa, Fairfield andCorning.

Bacon is sharing his work with an ongoing photo exhibition at the University of La Verne. The exhibit, “Farm Workers,” is on display through May 21, 2010, at the University of La Verne’s Irene Carlson Gallery of Photography. This event is also intended to bring attention to the university’s photography major.

Admission to the gallery, located on the ground floor of Miller Hall on the university’s main campus, is free.

Bacon is the author of several books, including “Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants,” “Communities Without Borders: Images and Voices from the World of Migration,” and “The Children of NAFTA: Labor Wars on the U.S./Mexico Border.” His work has been exhibited in the U.S., Mexico, Germany and the United Kingdom.

The Carlson Gallery is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, or by special appointment. For information on the exhibit, the artist reception or the Carlson Gallery, contact Gary Colby at (909) 593-3511, ext. 4281.

from: “Photo exhibit focuses on laborers”
La Verne University Campus Times, April 30, 2010
Rachel Smith, Staff Writer

David Bacon’s photography exhibit “Farm Workers” at the Irene Carlson Gallery exposed the difficult conditions faced by most immigrant farm workers. “The photos are a reality check,” Bacon said. “Food doesn’t automatically appear on the Safeway shelves.”

The ULV students that filled the exhibit were affected by the extraordinary images. The ULV staff and students provided great behind the scenes support to help make sure the event was a success. Gary Colby, professor of photography, and Kevin Bowman, photography department manager, were the key staff members that brought the exhibit to life. Colby selected the artist, while Bowman focused on printing the images that Colby and Bacon picked for the exhibit.

They capture men and women working side-by-side doing the same very physically demanding jobs. “Some of these images break the stereotype of a farm worker,” Bowman said. The images not only focus on male Mexican farm workers, but also touch on immigrants from India and women farm workers.

Bacon emotionally reached the students at ULV. He stirred inside them a desire to learn and become aware of the difficult life situations. “It makes me feel like there is a lot going on that I’m not aware of,” said Grady Thomas, junior communications major. “I need to be more aware of what’s happening.” Thomas and fellow communications major Pui Lok Choi helped promote Bacon’s exhibit as a school project.

As an adult, Bacon was a union leader and began to see the injustices that immigrants were facing in the labor world. His passion and desire to document the hardships eventually became full-time work for the union organizer turned artist. “We are all here to work,” Bacon said. “That’s what we have in common no matter the race or work you do.”

For more articles and images, see

See also Illegal People — How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press, 2008)
Recipient: C.L.R. James Award, best book of 2007-2008

See also the photodocumentary on indigenous migration to the US
Communities Without Borders (Cornell University/ILR Press, 2006)

See also The Children of NAFTA, Labor Wars on the U.S./Mexico Border (University of California, 2004)

David Bacon, Photographs and Stories


Poets Respond to Arizona SB1070

Poets Responding to SB 1070: landscape of sb 1070 by Lauro Vazquez

landscape of sb 1070 by Lauro Vazquez
you will fill the nostrils of your hound

with the scent of my house

you will search everywhere for me

you will ask the sands of the desert for my name

and the turquoise of the shore

you will roam sea after sea

until my sorrow overflows the rivers

and my tears spill to become trees

and my blood the wound

that inhabits you

© La/uRo May 2010.

Thanks to Elizabeth Marino for sharing information about this important face book page. See the page for further poetry and information.

Why Exactly Do We Need the Oil Industry?

[We usually hear this question answered by the argument that industry depends on oil.  Often with the corollary that we need to become independent of “foreign oil.” Solemnly followed by legislation to increase offshore drilling, “clean coal,” and “clean nuclear.”  But all of this merely begs the question.  Justifying the existence of the oil Industry is like justifying the existence of foxes guarding the national chicken coops.  Focusing on taking away the personhood of corporations barks up the wrong tree in my estimation.  BP, person or otherwise, ignored numerous citations from the federal government; and we can see why in the following story.  The federal government is hand in glove with the corporations for which it grants waivers, in the face of one of the largest man-induced ecological

Oil Washes Ashore

 disasters we have seen.  There is no other alternative than for the federal government (a different federal government than exists today) to seize the oil industry in the name of the people, nationalize it in the interests of the people, and return the superprofits made from the industry to the people.  The same is true for all energy industries claiming suddenly to be clean (nuclear is clean? Please!).

Then at least we’ll have a chance  to ensure that our grandchildren will survive the calamity that the industrial profiteers have wreaked upon the earth. Unless we act to take over these corporations and the government which they own, we suffer the likes of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano bumbling through her best and worst case scenario for the Gulf and for us that you can see on the web site below.]

Since spill, feds have given 27 waivers to oil companies in gulf

Read more:

By Marisa Taylor | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Since the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig exploded on April 20, the Obama administration has granted oil and gas companies

Oil Slick

 at least 27 exemptions from doing in-depth environmental studies of oil exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico.

The waivers were granted despite President Barack Obama’s vow that his administration would launch a “relentless response effort” to stop the leak and prevent more damage to the gulf. One of them was dated Friday — the day after Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he was temporarily halting offshore drilling

The exemptions, known as “categorical exclusions,” were granted by the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) and included waiving detailed environmental studies for a BP exploration plan to be conducted at a depth of more than 4,000 feet and an Anadarko Petroleum Corp. exploration plan at more 9,000 feet.

“Is there a moratorium on off shore drilling or not?” asked Peter Galvin, conservation director with the Center for Biological Diversity, the environmental group that discovered the administration’s continued approval of the exemptions. “Possibly the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history has occurred and nothing appears to have changed.”

MMS officials said the exemptions are continuing to be issued because they do not represent final drilling approval.

To drill, a company has to file a separate application under a process that is now suspended because of Salazar’s order Thursday.

However, officials could not say whether the exemptions would stand once the moratorium is lifted.

MMS’ approvals are expected to spark new criticism of the troubled agency and the administration’s response to the spill.

Salazar announced Thursday that there’d be no new offshore drilling until the Interior Department completes the safety review process requested by Obama. The department is required to deliver the report to the president by May 28.

Given the MMS approvals, however, Galvin said the administration’s pledge appears disingenuous.

“It looks to me like they’re misleading the public,” he said.

MMS spokesman David Smith said his agency conducts a thorough review before it determines whether to grant such exemptions.

“It’s not a rubber stamp,” he said.

BP did not return calls for comment.

MMS set out rules that allow for the exemptions from some environmental requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) as long as the sites in question are not relying on new or unusual technology, or within high seismic risk areas, or within the boundaries of marine sanctuaries or in regions with hazardous bottom conditions. MMS also assesses the impact on biological and archeological resources.

In the gulf, Smith said, MMS has a “wealth of environmental data” from studies of the region that it can rely on when reviewing the requests from the energy firms.

That’s why oil and gas companies that were given the exemptions said the approvals were routine and shouldn’t have raised any environmental concerns.

Apache Corp. said it was granted four exemptions for updating production equipment and drilling wells on existing sites and for drilling in the vicinity of an existing site. Appropriate environmental studies were conducted before the purchase of the leases for those sites, said Bill Mintz, a spokesman with Apache.

“We followed the procedures and the government didn’t change the procedures,” said Mintz. “The decisions are made according to rules in a framework that has been established.”

Anadarko also cited a previous environmental assessment of a site where it applied for a waiver.

“Protecting the environment and the safety of our personnel are our highest priorities,” said John Christiansen, a Anadarko spokesman, Walter Oil & Gas also received one for a survey of an existing site off the coast of Louisiana.

Environmentalists, however, say that MMS’ checklist for determining whether to grant such exemptions are far too broad and relies on sweeping environmental impact studies that are undertaken before the purchase of leases.

Holly Doremus, a professor of law at Boalt Hall, University of California at Berkeley, said MMS has had a culture of minimizing environmental reviews of oil and gas development dating back to its inception in 1982.

“That’s related to the fact that oil companies have a great deal of power over MMS and there hasn’t been much oversight,” she said. “My guess is that these things are routinely being signed off on as categorical exclusions even though they deserve a closer look.”

Other companies that received the waivers include: Shell, Kerr-McGee Oil & Gas Corporation, Royal Exploration Company, Inc., MCX Gulf of Mexico, Tana Exploration Company, Tarpon Operating & Development, Rooster Petroleum, Phoenix Exploration Company, and Hall-Houston Exploration III.

Tracy L. Austin, spokeswoman for Mitsubishi International Corporation, which owns MCX Gulf of Mexico, said she could not comment on MMS’ handling of the exemptions overall.

“While we understand that the MMS has come under criticism for failing to adequately regulate the industry, with respect to our operations, we believe the MMS has acted responsibly,” she said.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have already called for reform of MMS after news that BP was granted on exemption for the Deepwater Horizon site. That waiver was first reported by the Washington Post.

“If the conclusion is we need new regulation to prevent something like this from happening again, we’d welcome that because we believe we operate in a safe and environmentally responsible manner,” said Mintz with Apache. “But right now, the current rules say certain activities can proceed based on the studies that have been done.”

In 2008, a series of government watchdog reports implicated a dozen current and former employees of the MMS in inappropriate or unethical relationships with industry officials.

The reports described “a culture of substance abuse and promiscuity” in the Royalty in Kind program, in which the government forgoes royalties and takes a share of the oil and gas for resale instead. From 2002 to 2006, nearly a third of the RIK staff socialized with and received gifts and gratuities from oil and gas companies.

Read more: