A Special Thank You to the Polish Laborers of New York
June 8, 2011
A Proud and Heroic History
New York is a city of transformation, populated by dreamers who come from all over the world to better their lives. In return these newcomers bring their values and ideals, strengthening our city with their ingenuity, drive and hard daily labor.
Our Polish laborers, doctors, lawyers, and teachers form a vital piece of New York’s cultural mosaic.
From the start of the 19th century Poland has seeded New York with countless intellectuals, political dissidents and especially laborers to do the backbreaking work of improving the face of our city.
In 1854, the second great wave of Polish immigration brought us our steelworkers, meat packers, autoworkers and miners. These immigrants were instrumental in reforming the labor movement, particularly in the coal mining industry in the Northeast. We see this in the sacrifice made by the Polish-American labor leader, Joseph Yablonski of the United Mine Workers.
Yablonski’s fierce drive to mold the United Mine Workers into an independent and incorruptible organization, an organization that truly advocates for its rank and file workers, is what makes him a hero of the labor movement. In order to achieve this reform, Yablonski had to confront the powerful interests of the mine owners. These owners were most concerned with filling their pockets to the maximum even at the expense of workers’ lives. As a result worker conditions were hazardous and often life threatening. Yet Yablonski continued to push for progress, refusing to compromise on workers’ rights.
Heartrendingly, Yablonski was killed along with his family as they slept one night in 1969. Upon hearing the news of his death, the workers Yablonski had so fearlessly advocated for became outraged, correctly guessing who was responsible for the attacks. In response they organized a 20,000 worker strike, refusing to quit until justice prevailed.
As a result of this protest a reform was created that brought big improvements to the lives of the rank-and-file; Yablonski’s mission to make the UMA a safer place for its workers had succeeded after all.
We are now riding the crest of the fourth Great Wave in neighborhoods such as Greenpoint, Williamsburg, and Ridgewood, along with others throughout the city, where Polish families do their part every day to keep New York’s culture and economy thriving.
We honor this long history of contribution and sacrifice, both to the labor movement and to the greatness of our city.
The Klein Law Group Please visit us at www.thekleinlawgroup.com. If you have questions about workers compensation, personal injury, wage and hour, or social security disability law, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-800-579-8881 LP web article posting form