This day in Madison, American workers came to a crossroads;
Their road ahead to dignity, security and prosperity blocked
By pig-headed ideologues, billionare bankers, and contemptuous CEOs
Who with nonchalance, buy and sell governors, legislators and judges
As though they were bars of soap or cans of soup.
Their path to a better life was ever treacherous and terror-filled.
To elevate wage earners, secluded in sweatshops,
Lashed to assembly lines, cages in dank mines
From penurious pay, dawn to dusk labor and perilous work places
Required harnessing individual pleas into collective bargaining.
Deleted from school texts and excoriated by the media
Were the hardships, sacrifices and triumphs of union organizers
Who driven only by visions of a better life for ordinary people,
Overcame blacklists, company spies and yellow dog contracts
Scouring the land to bring equity and dignity to workers
Ignored, never learned or long forgotten by this generation
Are tales of blood spilled, limbs broken and skulls crushed
By goons, cops, sheriffs, state troopers and federal soldiers
In strikes at Ludlow, Haymarket, Harlan County and Minneapolis
In the struggle for a decent wage and the right to an eight hour work day.
Each new generation, stymied at the crossroads
By the ponderous power of military industrial complex,
Has the option to face it's fate, choose it's destiny;
Meekly submit to a lower level of living and further loss of dignity
Or unite in a communal struggle for a more democratic society