Scabs

by Dead Work

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04:05

about

Scabs is the story of the Ludlow Massacre. Back in 1913, the death toll for miners in Colorado was twice the national average. Colorado Fuel & Iron had the state in it's pocket, and though regulations were in place to protect miners, the laws were not enforced. A strike began that lasted for over a year. Their demands were an 8 hour day, payment forms other than scrip, which was only usable at company stores, extra pay for doing dead work, and enforcement of Colorado state mining laws. For months, small pockets of violence broke out between strikers and the National Guard. This all came to a head on April 20th, when the National Guard set up a machine gun overlooking the Ludlow tent colony. The strikers and their families saw the soldiers scrambling and everyone started to panic. Women grabbed children and hid, and men armed themselves and took positions in rifle pits. No one really knows who started the gunfight, the strikers blamed the soldiers and vice versa. For almost 12 hours they exchanged fire as the soldiers slowly pushed the strikers back from the tent colony. When most of the miners were driven out of the colony, the National Guard moved in and burned Ludlow to the ground. When morning came, and the last of the fires had died down, roughly 20 people were dead, including 11 women and 2 children, who were suffocated by smoke and heat while hiding in a pit that was dug out in their tent. Word got out of the tragedy, and miners arrived from all over the state with weapons and ammo. For 10 days, thousands of miners ran through the hills of Colorado, shooting scabs, mine operators and burning mines and surrounding buildings down. It was the second biggest uprising since the Civil War. The strike would break a few months later, and was considered a failure at the time, though years later, historians now view it as a major turning point for workers rights.

credits

released July 31, 2013

All songs written, recorded and performed by Jon Pizarro
Artwork and layout by Jon Pizarro and Bridson Wills (bridsonwills.com)
Ten Day War intro sample taken from Eleanor Swansons book of poems called "Trembling in the Bones"
Ten Day War outro sample taken from Howard Zinns talk "The Hidden History of the American Working Class"

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Track Name: The Breaking Point
Maintain opposition, turn up the heat till we see some contrition
Cash for the dead work, abolish the scrip
Keep my family safe from the mine owners whip
8 hours for work, 8 hours for play, 8 hours for rest at the end of the day
These concessions are fair when yer risking yer life
For a roof over yer head and a meal for yer kids and wife

Armed thugs watch out camp and decide who can leave
While the company store, decides what we need
The only personal decision we get, is to work for the mine or rot in a ditch
CF&I own the state and the state owns the land, without personal wealth, there's no way I can
Relocate my family and start new again
So my options are scab or join in the strike campaign

Against corporate statehood, unfettered profits that won't see our pockets
Supply side economics leave us in want cold hungry and gaunt
John D. bought the national guard, to quell the dispute
But the pressure is rising, the lines gonna break.
The match has been put to the fuse of this powder keg

The men take position on Water Tank Hill, the signal 3 blasts and the orders to kill
Ludlow is bustling, confusion and fear sweep the campsite and poison the dark atmosphere
A man he comes running with white flag in hand, unable to prevent whats soon to begin
The charges are set and the first 2 are heard, but bullets and screams cover the third
Track Name: Death Special
Bullets flying, children crying
Tearing through the canvas marking up the earth
Women screaming, men are bleeding
Echo through the canyons exposing the outburst
Fire reigns down upon the dusty plains below the hills
More troops arrive to fight from Aguilar to Rameyville

10 hours straight, we sit and wait
For the hail storm to subside
Down in the well, trapped in this hell
Silently counting the moments till we're dead by yer side

News is spreading, grabbing headlines
Battle on the field of the Ludlow mines
Ammo depleting, strikers retreating
Abandoning posts at the front of the line
The orders given, drive the people out and burn the village
The Guard becomes a mod, they terrorize and start to pillage

A train comes riding down the tracks
Creating lulls in the attacks
Families disperse while out of sight
The flames dance long into the night

The fires swell as they reach for the sky
And burn all night long before they start to subside
Poor Mary wakes from her nightmarish sleep
Delirious, thirsty and weak at the knees
She stumbles drunkenly out of the debris
Looking for comfort amongst refugees
A woman asks of the fate of her children
Surely they've passed for I tried but can't stir them

Beyond the Black Hills a group of men gather their guns
And plan to repay them with blood
Track Name: Ten Day War
Bodies lay lifeless, alongside the train tracks
With more in the ruins where Ludlow stood
Now telegrams make their way out of state
A mass call to arms with intent to retaliate
These bloody crimes will not go unanswered
We aim to bring them the wrath they deserve
A bullet named for every life taken
Tear through the hillsides burning the mines to the ground
As they fall we will dance to the sound

Striking miners arrive from every surrounding town
Finding strength in our numbers we'll tear this whole structure down

You said you'd fight to protect yer business
You'd go to war to preserve yer assets
For 10 days, we owned this land
From north Louisberg down to Trinidad
Crying for help, from President Wilson
Before it spreads to the great Denver Basin
Federal troops are boarding the train
A desperate last effort to protect the mines that remain
From the fate that the others have faced

60 lives sacrificed, and just for the strike to break
A century later and still we are forced to beg