Saturday, March 5, 2011
At the 85th birthday celebration of priest and peace activist Daniel Berrigan, held in June 2006 in New York City, Natalie Merchant sang the classic union song "Which Side Are You On?" Florence Reese, wife of a union leader, wrote the lyrics based on the violent 1931 coal miners' strike in Harlan County, Kentucky. In the song, Reese refers to Sheriff J. H. Blair, who ransacked her house with his thugs and watched for her husband's return with the intention to shoot him. Though such tactics are not currently being employed, those who stand against workers' rights still use methods of intimidation, making the need for labor solidarity as strong as ever.