A full schedule of labor in the arts this weekend marks the launch of this year’s DC LaborFest, including screenings of “Trumbo” at the AFI Silver Theatre and a new labor-themed play called “The TEMPest” at the Silver Spring Black Box Theater this Friday. Go to dclabor.org and click on calendar for complete details and tickets.
Here’s today’s labor history:
On this date in 1911, James Oppenheim’s poem “Bread and Roses” was published in Industrial Solidarity, the IWW newspaper. Oppenheim was inspired by a speech given by labor union leader, socialist, and feminist Rose Schneiderman who said that "The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too." A political slogan as well as the name of an associated poem and song, “Bread and Roses” has been translated into other languages and has been set to music by at least three composers.
In 1953, President Dwight Eisenhower signed Executive Order 10450: Security Requirements for Government Employment. The order listed “sexual perversion” as a condition for firing a federal employee and for denying employment to potential applicants.
And in 1978, a cooling tower for a power plant under construction in Willow Island, West Virginia collapsed, killing 51 construction workers in what is thought to be the largest construction accident in U.S. history. OSHA cited contractors for 20 violations, including failures to field test concrete. The cases were settled for $85,000—about $1,700 per worker killed.
Today’s labor quote is by James Oppenheim
As we come marching, marching, in the beauty of the day
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill-lofts gray
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses
For the people hear us singing, "Bread and Roses, Bread and Roses