Union Songs

Harry Bridges

A Song by Harry Stamper©2013 Harry Stamper

- [play]

Harry helped to build the bridges that the workers marched across
At a time when it was dangerous to agitate the boss
When the workers got together to see what they could do
They built a solid union, the ILWU

So here's to you Harry, may your name forever stand
For integrity and justice for every working man
Working women are beside them, as the bosses plan to goad
And your spirit sails on every ship we load

Before the union stood against the flowing economic tide
The employers set the standards and then organized the ride
Standards of human decency were easy to ignore
But all that changed in 1934


From San Diego to Alaska all the teams called the same play
And there wasn't any question that the workers won that day
They put the blame on Harry when that power was let go
And they called him every evil thing they know

They called him a commie, they called him a red
They called him a lot of things they could have called the boss instead
When the dust had settled and the new life had begun
It was plain the working people had all won


Then we found out what employers do when they're pushed to the line
When they panic like their workers and they find a friend some time
Uncle Sam called in the watch dogs, tried to tell them where to go
They stood with Harry Bridges and history said no

... Yes your spirit sails on every ship we load.


Harry Stamper: Longshoreman and artist passed away on March 9 2012 at the age of 67.

The ILWU celebration of his life featured musicians and poets who shared some of Stamper's prolific work, including the song "We Just Come to Work Here, We Don't Come to Die," recognized by the Smithsonian Institution as a part of American labor and folk music history. His song, "Harry Bridges," celebrated the life of the ILWU founder and was performed by Stamper at Bridges' memorial held at Local 10 in San Francisco.

In the 1980's, Stamper performed at Pete Seeger's Clearwater Revival Folk Festival in New York with Arlo Guthrie and Sweet Honey in the Rock.

Stamper began playing music at the age of 13 and made the Bay Area his home in the early 1970's, writing frequently about union, environmental, and political issues. No topic was off-limits. The last song he recorded was titled, "God, Guns and Gays." He also wrote songs, stories and a book for his grandchildren, Kevin, Stephen and Jack, that made them laugh, dance and sing.

Find more Harry Stamper songs on this site. Visit Harry's remembrance web site: Remember Harry

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