Weekend Video: Plutocracy, Solidarity Forever

587336622_640The film, which is the second part of an ongoing historical series, covers the seminal labor-related events which occurred between the late 1800’s and the 1920’s. Its subtitle refers to a 1915 song composed by Ralph Chaplin as an anthem for unionized workers. The film itself is the cinematic version of that anthem, as it allows us a comprehensive understanding of the need for these early labor unions, and the enormous sacrifices of its members to ensure fairness, safety, and equality in the workplace.

The operations of industries like railroads, steel and coal were characterized by slave wages, dangerous working environments, punishing hours, and child labor. With the birth of the labor unions, these industries were forced to re-examine their worker policies or run the risk of losing their businesses altogether. One of the earliest examples of this is the formation of the American Railroad Union in 1893, an event that is prominently featured in the film. After the organization won early successes in recovering wages for denigrated workers, its popularity skyrocketed among the working class. But the heads of industry soon fought back with their far-reaching strong-arm influence, and subsequent public strikes were marred by violence, oppression and unlawful arrests.

Plutocracy II – Solidarity Forever from Scott N on Vimeo.

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