Union culture making a comeback

DALLAS – North Texans are following a national trend toward bringing union culture back into the American consciousness. They have set up a “Union Song Revival” for 1 p.m. on July 24 at the United Auto Workers headquarters at 2218 E Main Street in Grand Prairie, just west of Dallas.

The program says that professionals Kenny Winfree (“I’m a Union Card”) and Lisa Markley (“Bread and Roses”) will headline a long list of local talent singing and reading poetry. The union is co-sponsoring with North Texas Jobs with Justice.

Kenny Winfree, a member of the local, recently returned from the Great Labor Arts Exchange at AFL-CIO headquarters with the idea of a local action. The fact that unions in Oklahoma City presented a major culture fest last year inspired people to join in with Winfree. The Texas event is less ambitious, but is nevertheless the first local effort of its kind in anybody’s memory. Admission is free.

Winfree, a native of Tennessee, performs in a Bluegrass style, while Lisa Markley’s main song comes from a textile strike in the early 20th century. But other contributions will be so new that they have never been heard before. Three new hymns were written by one of the Jobs with Justice activists, Chaplain Jann Aldredge-Clanton. Several new twists on older tunes were invented by activist Dean Recklaw, who has been the number one fighter against the jobs crisis in North Texas for years. Below is Recklaw’s new song. It is sung to the tune of the 1960s Coasters classic, “Poison Ivy.”

By Dean Recklaw

It takes away your pride
And tears you up inside
You’d like it very much
If Bernanke were not so out of touch!

You would like to be working
But employers’ always jerking you arrow,wow,wow,wow-ow-ound

You feel you’re goin’ crazy
‘Cause people call you lazy
Your head is full of doubt
And your wife and your benefits ran out!

And the longer you’re jobless
Then the harder a new job is to be fou,wow,wow,wow-ow-ound

They took my health insurance
But I felt great assurance,
I’ve always been a wiz at interviews;
But time keeps passing by me
And makes me wonder, “Why me?
How long before I’m finished paying dues?”

It’s no good getting pissed
You’re too old to enlist
Someone else has got your job
They got corn, and they left you with the cob

You got cut with no warning
It’s another Monday Morning going dow,wow,wow,wow-ow-own

Friends & fam’ly shun ya
The credit comp’nies dun ya
The politicians try to buy your vote;
Your Senator won’t listen,
Your Governor is missin’,
Your IRS man has you by the throat;

The only real solution
Looks like a revolution;
We’ll be gathering in mobs
We want jobs, we want nothing more than jobs

You would like to be working
But employers always jerking you arrow,wow,wow,wow-ow-ound
You would like to be working
But instead you go berzerking arrow,wow,wow,wow-ow-ound

Photo via Flickr.