"Itinerant organizer for the IWW and labor ballader for the ages."
Hill was an organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), a radical group aiming to mobilize and serve unrepresented industrial workers. The confrontational, colorful organization had its own distinctive culture, and it found its most famous voice in Joe Hill, a Swedish immigrant with a talent for writing provocative and inspiring song lyrics to familiar tunes. The songs Hill penned spread throughout the country and even after the Palmer Raids severely weakened the IWW, these verses remained classics of labor struggles and are widely sung to this day.
"Author of the 1905-06 classic, The Jungle, an account of the deadly exploitation of Chicago’s immigrant workers."
Although published more than 100 years ago, Sinclair’s monumental work The Jungle is still widely read today, and continues to provide inspiration for those confronting oppressive and unsafe conditions. The Jungle details the story of a meatpacking plant worker. Its expose of unsanitary conditions and distribution of meat products caused so great of an uproar that the federal government was forced to impose universal inspection mechanisms on meat processing. The book dealt a severe blow to the unimpeded power of corporations and not only made sanitation and workplace conditions part of the American consciousness, but also brought to light issues of oppressive treatment of workers and the ensuing social deterioration.
Franklin and Penelope Rosemont
"Faithful stewards of the Charles H. Kerr Company, publishers of labor and radical classics since 1886."
The Rosemonts have brought the Kerr imprint into the 21st century by continuing to expand their list of radical, socialist, and labor publications. The Kerr Company was created in 1886 to provide public access to imperative books on these subjects, and over the years has helped countless voices for justice to find an audience. The Kerr courageous venture is being carried on, enhanced by recent reprintings of classic Kerr works on radicalism and labor, such as the Autobiography of Mother Jones.