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Commonwealth of toil : chapters in the history of Massachusetts workers and their unions

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The Commonwealth of Toil รจ tratto dall'Album Songs of the Wobblies

James R. Over the past two centuries, Massachusetts workers have fought for many important advances that would later be enjoyed by other Americans.

Commonwealth of toil

The right to organize, restrictions on work hours and child labor, and workers' compensation were all pioneered in the Commonwealth. From the strike of Boston carpenters for a ten-hour day to recent victories in hospitals and universities, Massachusetts workers and their unions have been in the forefront of the battle for dignity and justice.

This book tells their story. In eighteen chapters, beginning with the first industrial workers in the nation - the Lowell "mill girls" - the authors describe the struggles of working men and women to improve their lives.

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Its small size enabled a worker to easily carry it in a shirt or pants pocket. Many of them were parodies of hymn tunes captured on street corners from Salvation Army recruiters, and some openly satirized the hold of religion on the people. The Songbook was first published by a committee of Spokane, Wash. The songs included in the evolving songbook were meant to educate, illuminate and agitate, countering bourgeois mentality and anticipating a new social order, the commonwealth of toil. With their clever use of humor, these songs were more widely read and appreciated than the hundreds of manifestos, pamphlets, documents and declarations that emanated from the American left over many decades.

These songs were sung on picket lines, in hobo jungles, union halls, free speech rallies, and mass meetings.