May Day Belongs to the Workers and their Songs. Come Sing Along.

Happy May Day!  Celebrate the way the labor movement always does — with music!  We’ve gathered some favorites for you here.

Start with Talking Union performed by Pete Seeger, Tom Glazer, Hally Wood Faulk and Ronnie Gilbert in 1947:

You may remember Joan Baez singing this song in the movie Woodstock.  Here Joe Hill is sung by the revered (and hated) African American singer Paul Robeson.

The Black Eyed Peas sang Union in South Africa.

When people need a real boost, they choose Do You Hear the People Sing? from Les Miserables.  Here the Wisconsin Labor demonstrators at the State House in Madison show us why.

People used to like labor unions.  This commercial from 1978 is part of their message.

Women in the labor movement had songs of their own, especially this one.  It’s called Bread and Roses and sung by Joan Baez and her sister Mimi Farina.

Here is a recently released video by Tom Morello, celebrating the recent struggles of unions in our culture today.

Finally, the song written as a tribute to the women of Detroit who supported the Autoworkers strike in Flint: Union Maid. This version comes from Pete Seeger’s 90th Birthday Concert at Madison Square Garden, on May 3, 2009 and features Billy Bragg, Mike & Ruthy Merenda, Dar Williams and the New York City Labor Chorus


Joanne Dixon
Joanne Dixon6 years ago

Joan's mother "Big Joan"), also an activist, passed away recently (April 20) shortly after her 100th birthday. She had also been an activist. She was predeceased by Mimi as well as her husband Albert. As of 4/25 services had not been announced. So sad to lose good people. Though I don't want to intrude by sending a card from someone she never heard of, my thoughts and sympathies are with Joanand her sister Pauline.

Marianne Good
Past Member 6 years ago


Terry V.
Terry V6 years ago


Kenneth D.
Kenneth Davies7 years ago


Elisabeth T.
Elisabeth T7 years ago

Enjoyed this very much, thank you...

jane richmond
jane richmond7 years ago

nice post.

Sean C.
Sean C.8 years ago

Congratulations on this posting. I am letting a wide rnage of people know in Britain through Enewsletters I produce.

Sean Creighton
Agenda Services
(History & Social Action Projects)
History & Social Action News
Editor Black & Asian Studies Association Members monthly EInformation Bulletin

Pancho V.
Pancho V.8 years ago

May Day did not originate in Moscow! It originated in Chicago as workers struggled to secure the eight hour work day. There was a riot at Haymarket Square in Chicago where cops began shooting at the demonstrating workers. Four trade unionists were falsely blamed for the deaths of some of these cops and hung.
Across the world workers celebrated in memory of the Haymarket Square martyrs and the American worker's fight for the eight hour day! Check it out, it's labor history!

Jackie D.
Jackie D8 years ago

Thank you for these inspiring videos.

May Day is a celebration of workers hard won rights for better conditions and wages. People in unions struggled,and many died, so that we today have better conditions including an 8 hour day, sick pay, holiday pay and pension entitlements. All of these benefits are being eroded. Read Jack London's People of the Abyss, or Christopher Mayhew's London Labour and London Poor to find out what life would be like if we had none of these benefits.

Christopher Fowler

I have to wonder how many folks realize that May Day was started by the Soviet Russians.

We, here in the US have Labor Day to celebrate Our own people that work for a living.

I do not celebrate Soviet Russian holidays.