Solidarity Forever

Words: Ralph Chaplin, 1915
Melody: Traditional American song “John Brown’s Body”

This is one of the best known of all the English language songs sung by trade unionists. Workers fighting for a better standard of living have sung it for over a hundred years. In 1912 the workers in coal mines in West Virginia, in the United States, joined together in trade unions. They went on strike for better conditions and higher pay. The International Workers of the World formed to fight for one single united union to which all workers could belong in the struggle for a fairer share of the profits of industry.

Lyrics

When the union’s inspiration through the workers blood shall run
There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun.
Yet what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one?
But the union makes us strong!

[chorus]
Solidarity forever! Solidarity forever!
Solidarity forever! For the union makes us strong!

Is there aught we hold in common with the greedy parasite
Who would lash us into serfdom and would crush us with his might?
Is there anything left for us to do but organise and fight?
For the union makes us strong!

They have taken untold millions that they never toiled to earn,
But without our brain and muscle not a single wheel can turn.
We can break their haughty power, gain our freedom, when we learn
That the union makes us strong!

In our hands is placed a power greater than their hoarded gold,
Greater than the might of armies magnified a thousand fold!
We can bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old,
For the union makes us strong!

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