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Happy May Day! We’re not working today.

Jonny Diamond

May 1, 2020, 8:37am

Dear Lit Hub reader, we’re taking the day off. We’ve published a lot of great stories today, so you’ll be fine, but we’re not going to be blogging at The Hub (or replying to emails, or making jokes on the office Slack). But if today’s slate isn’t full enough for you, might I suggest a few randomly selected back classics?

Erik Loomis on why strikes matter.
Lefty publishers have formed a coalition to support each other during the pandemic.
On the false freedom of the ever-perilous gig economy.
Meet Emma Tenayuca, one of the great unsung heroes of the American labor movement.
Emily Guendelsberger writes from inside an Amazon warehouse, on the high human cost of low-wage work.
Elizabeth Catte recommends some essential reading to better understand the historic West Virginia teachers strike of 2018.

And now I will essentially quote myself from this day last year, by suggesting you all listen to the late Philip Levine reading his iconic poem, “What Work Is,” which begins:

We stand in the rain in a long line
waiting at Ford Highland Park. For work.
You know what work is—if you’re
old enough to read this you know what
work is, although you may not do it.
Forget you.

Ok, now please take a moment to contemplate the millions upon millions of lives that were made dramatically better by organized labor over the last century.

[waits a minute]

Now, after you’ve waxed nostalgic about the Lincoln Brigade and soot-streaked miners in good jeans, please recall that those mythic fights—for fair pay, decent working conditions, the right to bargain collectively—are ongoing and urgent, particularly as so many of the rights won by the labor movement have been chiseled away and destroyed over the last 40 years.

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