St. Patrick’s Day and the Labor Movement
This year, St. Patrick’s Day will have a special significance. Irish-Americans’ history is closely tied with America’s labor movement. Now that we’re seeing the most vicious rightwing attacks on working people since the early 1900s, St. Patrick’s Day has a dual meaning this year.
Patrick J. Lynch, leader of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said:
“Union jobs, civil service jobs have always been the ladder out of poverty for working people in this country. The faces may have changed. The countries they're coming from may have changed. But the ladder is the same.”
And that ladder is getting yanked away in state after state.
Lynch said remembering the struggle of Irish-Americans is “especially important this year when unionism is under attack across the country.”
John Kilbane, business manager of Laborers’ Local 310 in Cleveland, said:
“We have gained our place through labor activism and political activism all across the United States. The old adage goes, 'A rising tide floats every boat.’ If collective bargaining is attacked and collective bargaining rights are weakened, or lessened or obliterated, it certainly is the beginning of a race to the bottom economically, not only for union people, but for those who are not fortunate enough to be represented by a union.”
Ohio State Rep. John Carney said a lot of people unloaded on him at a St. Patrick’s Day parade last weekend, about Ohio’s union-crippling legislation:
“If I had taken a straw vote, I would have said that it was overwhelmingly 'no' based on the people along the parade route, that's for sure.”
Peter and John Vaughan are third-generation members of the iron-workers’ union. Peter Vaughan said:
“We built this city. Labor has been good for the people, the masses. We're not going back to the old ways.”
And there’s always the exception that proves the rule. Two of the ringleaders of Wisconsin’s Destroy All Unions legislation are Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald. Let’s see, a black person who’s white on the inside is an Oreo; an Indian who’s white on the inside is an Apple. I’m sure the Irish have some colorful names for Irish-In-Name-Only assholes like the Fitzgerald brothers.