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Which Side Are You On?

Society & Culture  (tags: Florence Reece, Union, United Mine Workers, Kentucky, song, 1931, Which Side Are You On )

- 2846 days ago -
Florence Reece, the wife of an Union Organizer for the United Mine Workers of Kentucky, wrote this song in 1931 after deputies, hired by the Company, were sent to her home to terrorize her and their children.


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Sheryl G (359)
Tuesday September 6, 2011, 3:49 pm
LABOR DAY......Don't Forget What the Laborers and the Union Members....that brought about the Middle Class.

is a song written by Florence Reece in 1931. She was the wife of a union organizer for the United Mine Workers in Harlan County, Kentucky. In 1931, the miners of that region were locked in a bitter and violent struggle with the mine owners.

In an attempt to intimidate the Reece family, deputies hired by the mining company illegally entered and searched the Reece family home. Sam Reece had been warned in advance and escaped, but Florence and their children were terrorized in his place.

That night, after the men had gone, Florence wrote the lyrics to "Which Side Are You On?" on a calendar that hung in the kitchen of her home.

Come all you good workers
Good news to you I'll tell
Of how the good old union
Has come in here to dwell

Which side are you on boys?
Which side are you on?

My daddy was a miner
He's now in the air and sun
He'll be with you fellow workers
Until the battle's won

Which side are you on boys?
Which side are you on?

They say in Harlan County
There are no neutrals there
You'll either be a union man
Or a thug for J. H. Claire

Which side are you on boys?
Which side are you on?

Oh workers can you stand it?
Oh tell me how you can
Will you be a lousy scab
Or will you be a man?

Which side are you on boys?
Which side are you on?

Don't scab for the bosses
Don't listen to their lies
Poor folks ain't got a chance
Unless they organize

Which side are you on boys?
Which side are you on?

Carole Sarcinello (338)
Tuesday September 6, 2011, 3:54 pm

I love that song. Although it's sad and written for and by poor people . . . it projects the strength and tenacity of human dignity, determination and courage.


Sheryl G (359)
Tuesday September 6, 2011, 4:05 pm
If you haven't signed on or are even aware of the upcoming protest and rallies please check out the following.
The first link is Bernie Sanders speech that will explain very clearly what we need to Stand Up for, do watch all three parts.

The other links are information as to place, time, what, who, and please let others know! There is also a pep rally song for you besides what I posted here.

We MUST stand up and be heard, there is no time left to sit back and pretend all is going to be fine, if you can't go at least show your support by letting other know of these rallies so they may have the opportunity to go. I know on some of these there is a donation link, help them out, if you can't go.

During the days of the rallies inform the local press, make a sign and stand out front of your local Town or City Hall showing your Solidarity to what the people are doing in Washington, DC. Call the White House, your Representatives and tell them you are in Solidarity with those in Washington or New York. Each of us must do something more than read this and move on. Each person needs to take the next step, so let others know and then go further. Each of us have our own creative thoughts......come up with your own supportive ideas.

This is YOUR Country! If you don't fight for it......then who will?


SuS NoMail Plez P (244)
Tuesday September 6, 2011, 5:41 pm
Thank you Dandelion. This song is BEAUTIFUL and so true as to *C*s words. By and for the poor. As I couldn't bare to send a July 4th ecard~ I tried to send a Universal card on Sunday evening. I was very proud of the way I eliminated the Labor Day dilema and honored every Country and person as to what they may or may not be experiencing. It crashed...I slept all day. Ready to RALLY now.

Can't Star you yet: Love this "We MUST stand up and be heard, there is no time left to sit back and pretend all is going to be fine, if you can't go at least show your support by letting other know of these rallies so they may have the opportunity to go. I know on some of these there is a donation link, help them out, if you can't go."


Myron Scott (70)
Tuesday September 6, 2011, 5:43 pm
I love that song, and I love Natalie Merchant, but I somehow didn't know she'd recorded it. Thanks for the posting and the activist resources. Absolutely, the time is now, before the the professional politicians have sucked all the aire out of the room.

By the way, the struggle resumed in Harlan County in the 1970's, and it's documented in a brilliant, Oscar winning documentary by Barbara Kopple, "Harlan County, USA," available through Criterion Collection.

Sage H (5)
Tuesday September 6, 2011, 6:25 pm
It would be worth your time to look up The Ludlow Massacre, Bloody Harlan as well as the term "redneck". History is alive and well and more than willing to repeat itself.

Sheryl G (359)
Tuesday September 6, 2011, 6:54 pm
Thank you Sage for the additional information, and you are correct, history will repeat itself and it's sad and unfortunate that the American people allowed it to go as far as it has. They have killed in the past they will kill again, but to do nothing they are killing many now.

I always wanted to be a History teacher for I do believe it is an equally important subject as math and learning to read. If you note in the cutbacks it's history that is always cut back due to teacher loss along with the music, arts, and gym programs. The Powers to be don't want you to know how important history is.

A brief......please read more however.......

The Ludlow Massacre was an attack by the Colorado National Guard on a tent colony of 1,200 striking coal miners and their families at Ludlow, Colorado on April 20, 1914.

THE COLORADO TENT COLONY SHOT UP BY THE MILITIA, Ludlow, a canvas community of 900 souls, was riddled with machine guns shooting 400 bullets a minute. Then the tents were burned. The site was private property leased by the miners' union, which had supported the colony seven months.

The deaths occurred after a day-long fight between strikers and the Guard. The massacre resulted in the violent deaths of between 19 and 25 people; sources vary but all sources include two women and eleven children, asphyxiated and burned to death under a single tent.

(11 Children) up on the Triangle Fire......also the Bread and Roses......children as well suffered there


The origins of the term redneck actually go back to the 1930's in a number of disputes in West Virginia. A large group of unionized miners marched south to Logan County, to pressure the mine owners there to allow their miners to become unionized. To identify themselves, the miners all wore red bandannas around their necks. The publicity associated with the battles and the subsequent court cases created the term red-necks, and at that time they were viewed as the good guys in the conflict.

Originally, the term came from the later 1800's in southern Georgia and Alabama to refer to sharecroppers who worked in the fields thus getting a sunburned neck. They were called 'rednecks' as a term meant for hard working people. Today, the term is used by comedians and commentators to refer to people who are uneducated, close-minded and racist individuals.


Jim Phillips (3247)
Tuesday September 6, 2011, 7:24 pm
Love this statement by Dandelion:

"This is YOUR Country! If you don't fight for it......then who will? "

TY, Dandelion.

Susanne R (236)
Tuesday September 6, 2011, 7:26 pm
I'd never heard this song before. The lyrics, coupled with Natalie Merchant's unique and powerful vocal rendition, certainly leave an impression on the listener. It's an excellent reminder of what workers were up against so many years ago when they fought so hard for the right to organize and form unions --and we need to be reminded of their sacrifice at this particular point in time as we slowly lose the rights that they were willing to die for.

Thanks, Dandelion! You always manage to find just the right vehicle to get your point across!

Sheryl G (359)
Tuesday September 6, 2011, 7:52 pm
Thank you Susanne and Jim for your gracious comments and for Susanne P. who I see in my message box that has taken the next step to inform others. I do try to connect some dots and to remind those living today that some stories are repeating and we need to learn from that and not slide too far back, because it is hard to get back what one has lost.

Judy C (91)
Tuesday September 6, 2011, 9:16 pm
This is a good song, and it's been coverd by LOTS of people. I kistened to several versions of it yesterday. I'd ever heard this one by Natalie Merchant, and it's beautiful.

I'm proud to say my Dad and my grandmother were union members, and so were both of my exes, and may other relatives. My maternal grandfather was involved with the very beginnings of the movement here in my hometown. Mom used to talk about death threats to my grandfather and family, and their phone being tapped. He remained business agent for the Bakers' Union until he retired.

Judy C (91)
Tuesday September 6, 2011, 9:18 pm
I forgot to say thank you Dandelion, and I'll keep those links you posted and I'll follow up on them.

Henriette Matthijssen (154)
Wednesday September 7, 2011, 1:16 am
Thanks for sharing this with us Dandelion! This was truly appreciated.

Cheree M (46)
Wednesday September 7, 2011, 3:44 am
Noted, TY

Barbara K (61)
Wednesday September 7, 2011, 5:38 am
My uncles, some involved in organizing the first unions, and my father and my husband were all Union Men. I stand with the Unions. They made it possible for us to have a Middle Class and that is being taken away from us now. They took children out of shops, got rid of sweat shops, made the workplace safer, and gave us a 5 day work week, instead of non-stop work. They also made it possible for workers to draw pensions when they retired, health insurance and bargaining power and much more.

patricia lasek (317)
Wednesday September 7, 2011, 7:20 am
Wonderful song.
Sheryl, thank you for your profound words: "This is YOUR Country! If you don't fight for it......then who will? "

Sheryl G (359)
Wednesday September 7, 2011, 8:26 am
Liberal Lady.....Self-righteous? Wonder about my sincerety? Would you care to clarify? How much must one contribute within C2 to so call "prove" their sincerety?

Sheryl G (359)
Wednesday September 7, 2011, 8:32 am
You cannot currently send a star to Barbara because you have done so within the last week.
Barbara I thank you for sharing this about your family, we all owe a debt of gratitude for all the men and the women who have put their lives on the line to improve ours. From all you have shared your family has been contributing to what makes this Country be it's best.

Carole Sarcinello (338)
Wednesday September 7, 2011, 8:49 am

Sheryl, I, for one (of many), truly appreciate the passion -- and true sincerity -- of your dedication to universal (animals, Mother Earth and humans).

You work so hard, in so many directions, devoting your time to alerting others of disparate situations; and your heartfelt words compel them to take heed and embrace you (and your causes).

NEVER CHANGE! We need MORE people who, like you, truly care. I am proud to include you in my circle of friends, and consider you to be an exemplary example of an activist.


Gary L (138)
Wednesday September 7, 2011, 10:05 am
as proud unionman and the son of a proud unionman I understand full well the fight we are in things are getting worse working people must united and push back against the far right wing run by the kochs murdoch and all their evil serfs. thank you dandelion for this important work you do there will always be those who put their needs before others even those who call themselves liberal, as they say watch what they do not what they say

Barbara K (61)
Wednesday September 7, 2011, 11:00 am
Thanks for all you do for us, Dandelion. Ignore those who think they must insult someone to make themselves feel better. You do a good job, and you are one of the most sincere people I know. You are appreciated by many, just remember that, and thanks for being my friend.

Lisa N (202)
Wednesday September 7, 2011, 12:10 pm
Thanks Dandelion!

Billie C (2)
Thursday September 8, 2011, 12:55 pm
unions had a purpose back then. then the mafia took over and unions became nothing more than goons. thanks to them our jobs have left. you can't expect companies to pay 50,000 a year for some fool to sweep floors that you can't even fire when he shows up drunk.

Sheryl G (359)
Thursday September 8, 2011, 1:17 pm
As with anything Billie C. there can be abuses, but should we slice our own throats for a few abuses that are scattered around. If it wasn't for Unions children would still be working in coal mines and we'd still be working in unsafe working environments.

I'm sorry you buy into the Koch brothers and other members of ALEC propaganda that would love to destroy the Union completely, our Country and it's way of life, and therefore wipe out completely the Middle Class so we can live like others that have a two tier system, poor and ultra rich and no chance to move out of the poor if you are born into it. What you stated is the party line of what they feed the masses so that we will cut our own throats. I suggest you read up on how working conditions and pay was before Unions were formed, the Corporations would like those same terms back again.

In fact with the decrease in Unions so has the Middle Class decreased it is 1/3 less than it was in 2000 and those statistics were based before the economic collaspe. Unions didn't ship the jobs overseas, the CEO's did. Would you want to work for pennies on the dollar? How does one compete in the USA when they must pay rent of $1,000 a month and work for what fifty cents an hour? It's a Trade Imbalance that we've gone and accepted, and while Countries like China have done well, we haven't.

1. Unions Gave Us The Weekend: Even the ultra-conservative Mises Institute notes that the relatively labor-free 1870, the average workweek for most Americans was 61 hours — almost double what most Americans work now…

2. Unions Gave Us Fair Wages And Relative Income Equality: As ThinkProgress reported earlier in the week, the relative decline of unions over the past 35 years has mirrored a decline in the middle class’s share of national income…

3. Unions Helped End Child Labor: “Union organizing and child labor reform were often intertwined” in U.S. history, with organization’s like the “National Consumers’ League” and the National Child Labor Committee” working together in the early 20th century to ban child labor…

4. Unions Won Widespread Employer-Based Health Coverage: “The rise of unions in the 1930′s and 1940′s led to the first great expansion of health care” for all Americans, as labor unions banded workers together to negotiate for health coverage plans from employers…

5. Unions Spearheaded The Fight For The Family And Medical Leave Act: Labor unions like the AFL-CIO federation led the fight for this 1993 law, which “requires state agencies and private employers with more than 50 employees to provide up to 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave annually for workers to care for a newborn, newly adopted child, seriously ill family member or for the worker’s own illness.”


Christopher Fowler (82)
Thursday September 8, 2011, 1:53 pm
There is another song about the Christian wrong, by Jim Croce; Which Way are You Goin'?

Same theme, somewhat different issue.

The question is still there, though; Which side are we on?

Sheryl G (359)
Thursday September 8, 2011, 3:05 pm
Thank you Christopher.......I know what side I"m on.....

Which way are you going, which side will you be on
Will you stand and watch while, all the seeds of hate are sown
Will you stand with those who say, let his will be done
One hand on the bible
One hand on the gun
One hand on the bible
One hand on the gun

Which way are you looking, is it hard to see
Do you say whats wrong for him, is not wrong for me
You walk the streets, righteousness but you refuse to understand
You say you love the baby
Then you crucify the man
You say you love the baby
Then you crucify the man

Everyday, things are changing, words once honored turned to lies
People wondering, can you blame them
Its to far to run, and to late to hide

Now you turn your back on, all the things that you used to preach
Now its let him live in freedom, if he lives like me
Well you light has changed, confusion rains, what have you become
All your olive branches turned to spears
When your flowers turned to guns
Your olive branches turned to spears
When your flowers turned to guns


Nelson Baker (0)
Thursday September 8, 2011, 4:38 pm
Thank you.

William Y (54)
Thursday September 8, 2011, 5:22 pm
@ Billie C. Why don't you blame the real culprits as to why there are no jobs, The Kochites, Coorporofascists & the Republicans.

Dotti L (85)
Thursday September 8, 2011, 5:48 pm
@ Liberal Lady - You are wrong. You have been with Care2 a very short time. You don't know our Dandelion.

. (0)
Thursday September 8, 2011, 6:05 pm
Beautiful song!!!!!

Divide and conquer is how every nation has been defeated. Will we be next?

Sheryl G (359)
Thursday September 8, 2011, 7:04 pm
Thank you Dotti, Carole, and Barbara for your support, it's most appreciated. As she has been on here less than a month, it does amaze me that she took such liberties and jumped to such conclusions. I hope that she will remember she has joined CARE2. The word CARE, it means something.

Christia F (158)
Thursday September 8, 2011, 8:44 pm

Past Member (0)
Friday September 9, 2011, 3:15 am
Great song. Thanks.

Carol H (229)
Friday September 9, 2011, 5:31 am
thank you Dandelion, great song!!

. (1)
Friday September 9, 2011, 8:54 am
Noted. Thank you Dandelion.

. (0)
Friday September 9, 2011, 10:47 am
noted with thanks, and a special thanks to Dandelion for always caring !!

Sheryl G (359)
Friday September 9, 2011, 11:05 am
Thank you Paula. You cannot currently send a star to Paula because you have done so within the last week.

Past Member (0)
Friday September 9, 2011, 12:02 pm
I always look for the union label.

Glamour Girlcat (32)
Friday September 9, 2011, 1:20 pm
I love both Natalie Merchant's and Mrs. Reece's version of her own composition. IMO, Both are stirring and evocative. Thank you for posting, Dandelion.

Angelika R (143)
Monday April 29, 2013, 3:17 pm
i will join in the choir here with a praise for Dandelion, our awesome sheryl. I can only second the comments previously left by Carole, Barbara, Dotti and a few others.
Furthermore, Sheryl, i can say in all honesty and with conviction you would make a darn good history teacher and in fact, have been MINE on so many occasions already!

Angelika R (143)
Monday April 29, 2013, 3:19 pm
and of course, thanks for this great post just as much as for the other ones! That also applies to many commentors here.

Christeen A (300)
Monday April 29, 2013, 4:15 pm
Good song. You know labor day most laborers work. Sad isn't it?

Past Member (0)
Monday April 29, 2013, 5:22 pm
A good post. Thanks for sharing.

Judith Hand (55)
Monday April 29, 2013, 5:49 pm
Noted with thanks. Lovely to get the music, too.

Edith B (146)
Monday April 29, 2013, 9:54 pm
NOted. Both my grandfathers were involved in getting the United Mine workers union started. My maternal grandfather marched in D.C. with John L. Lewis and was in bloody Harlan. My dad and uncles were proud union miners. Without the UMWA we would have had nothing. Sadly, the union has been almost driven out of this area. The miners are afraid to even think union because they know they will be fired. They work in unsafe conditions and keep their mouths shut because the mines are the only jobs that pay a decent wage. I am sure my grandpas are turning in their graves.

Irene S (69)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 1:14 am
Noted, thank you1

Patricia E G (52)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 6:03 am
Well Sheryl, there not much more I can say to top Angelika's worthy comment.
I agree with her and the other ladies completely.
I can only add that you have been my mentor since
I have been a Care2 member.
With your interest in previous specific events, research into
facts and detailed sharp data could deem you as a historian.
I'm better off for knowing you and honored to call you "friend".


Nancy C (806)
Friday May 17, 2013, 8:00 am
This is a haunting tune and lyric. Brings to mind the folks in professional positions as military, police, clergy and others who would have in the past been "establishment" but sided with the Occupy movement and put themselves in physical danger and were arrested as well. Thank you Sheryl/Dandelion for being "here" and walking the path of enlightenment while sharing the road...

Patrick Donovan (344)
Tuesday July 23, 2013, 12:10 pm
Natalie Merchant is a true hero of the people. She deserves to be heard wide and far. Thanks again for posting.

Birgit W (160)
Tuesday July 23, 2013, 2:52 pm
Not much has changed since 1931. Excellent lyrics. Thanks Dandelion.

Susan Allen (219)
Tuesday July 23, 2013, 7:21 pm
Having a strong union background, I have always loved that song and this was an excellent rendition. Thanks for sharing it. Noted and shared.

Yvonne Taylor (37)
Saturday July 27, 2013, 2:58 pm
Just watched a commercial of Kentucky's terrible Senator against Obama, stating that "He is against coal", like that is a bad thing, LOL.

Devon Leonard (54)
Tuesday July 30, 2013, 2:29 pm
Beautiful rendition of this song... thanks Dandelion..!
My dad helped in organizing the Union at the Chrysler auto dealership in midtown NYC in the mid 1950's when he was a salesman working there then, and I was a little girl.... I remember he and my mother speaking of these things back then..... Great Post...! Shared with friends on FB...

Past Member (0)
Thursday May 1, 2014, 4:29 pm

Cynthia Davis (340)
Friday May 2, 2014, 5:56 am
TY Dandelion

Natalie Away J (125)
Friday May 2, 2014, 11:45 am
Noted, this is the first time I'd heard that song. I always learn something from you - thank you Sheryl.

Sheryl G (359)
Friday May 2, 2014, 1:48 pm
Thank you Natalie....glad to share, knowledge is the key to a better future. We must not go back to an era of what was tried and failed.

Mitchell D (82)
Sunday May 4, 2014, 6:19 pm
Sheryl, this is wonderful stuff!
So many good comments
And, yes, unions,and anything good can be twisted by nasty people, but American labor struggles have been hard fought, and without them we'd be in a very different place.
My bottom line song is "The Ballad of Joe Hill," which can still bring moisture to my eyes.
I can't see what Liberal lady wrote, but I'm on the people's side!

Darren Woolsey (218)
Wednesday June 15, 2016, 1:51 pm
Have reshared all those links above on social media, Dandelion, thanks!
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