Wednesday, July 02, 2008

San Francisco Labor Festival

Labor Creates All Wealth © 2008 Josh MacPhee

2008 starts July 5th and runs until July 31st in the San Francisco Bay Area.
This year, LaborFest is commemorating the 75th anniversary of the New Deal and the many projects including the WPA that put millions of people back to work, as well as the 40th anniversary of 1968 and the movements that developed worldwide. Both these events were seminal events for people in the US and around the world.

This is also the year that for the first time in the post war period, May Day was commemorated not only by immigrant workers but also by the direct action of the ILWU to close US west coast ports to protest the war.
The deepening financial crisis is wrecking havoc on the lives of working people in Northern California and throughout the US. Working people are now being forced to choose between the rising cost of food and the cost of gasoline for the long commutes that many workers are forced to drive.

At the same time, the collapse in housing prices and the loss of homes to hundreds of thousands of working people is another catastrophe to workers, and the lessons of the past are of great urgency today. Many jobs today, including skilled jobs such as radiologists, transcriptionists, architects, reporters and engineers are being outsourced and the use of the Internet, which has revolutionized communication, has also threatened our livelihoods. Working people in America are being told that we and our children have no future. This is raising serious questions for all of us.
LaborFest will explore these issues in our 15th annual festival with music, films and theater. For the first time, we will also host a LaborFest book fair at the Mission Cultural Center. We have also established a LaborFest theater group and will be presenting two special theatrical readings with more planned in the future. We thank and appreciate the generous support of the labor movement to make this festival possible.

This year’s Laborfest, we also commemorate the lives of musician and trade unionist Earl Watkins, singer Utah Phillips and literary agent and LaborFest supporter Toby Cole. Watkins was a leader in the fight against segregation of the musicians union in San Francisco and eventually became one of the leaders of AFM Local 6. Phillips was a working class troubadour who sang about the fights for justice and workers’ power here and around the world. All will be missed.

Taos Diner © 2005 Jack R. Smith

Some background about the festival and organization:

LaborFest was established in 1994 to institutionalize the history and culture of working people in an annual labor cultural, film and arts festival. It begins every July 5th, which is the anniversary of the 1934 “Bloody Thursday” event. On that day, two workers Howard Sperry and Nick Bordoise were shot and killed in San Francisco. They were supporting the longshoremen and maritime workers strike. This incident brought about the San Francisco General Strike which shut down the entire city and led to hundreds of thousands of workers joining the trade union movement.

The Planning committee of LaborFest is composed of unionists and unorganized workers, cultural workers and supporters of labor education and history. We encourage all unions not only to support us with endorsements and contributions but also to include activities about their own union members, their history and the work that they do.

We support the establishment of LaborFests around the country and internationally. There are now LaborFests in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan, every December. Laborfests have also taken place in Buenos Aires, Argentina and El Alto, Bolivia. In April of this year, the first LaborFest in Capetown, South Africa took place. In May, there were LaborFests in Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey. The need to build local, national and international solidarity is critical, if labor is going to face the challenges it faces on all fronts. LaborFests help bring our struggles together in art, film and music.

In Solidarity,
LaborFest Planning Committee

Check the very comprehensive schedule of events HERE.

Please respect the work of the artists you see here and be sure to credit them when you share their artwork with others.

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