On Saturday, Nov. 21, from 7-10 p.m., Kyle Wulle, a former Wobblie and board chair for Utah Jobs With Justice (UtahJWJ.org), is co-hosting a night of music and spoken word honoring famed unionist Joe Hill, who died in Salt Lake City on Nov. 19, 1915. Joining Wulle onstage at the U of U’s Post Theater (245 S. Fort Douglas Blvd.) will be Utah Phillips’ son, Duncan; Gigi Love; Mark Ross; Anke Summerhill; Kate MacLeod and Rosalie Sorrels.
What’s the big deal about Joe Hill?
He’s a hero of the first labor movement in this country who was martyred here in Salt Lake City. He died by the hands of the state for being a labor organizer, framed on a murder charge. This is something that’s celebrated in a lot of labor communities and should be celebrated here.
How can unions help restore the American economy?
I think that they would raise the basic wages. We need to get the wages up so that taxes are paid. The working class pays 85 percent of all the taxes. That’s 90 percent of the people. The 10 percent who are the wealthy don’t pay their share of taxes. If they were made to pay their share of taxes, if we shared the wealth equally, then people could work four to six hours a day for the same amount of pay that they have now.
Our biggest concern now is health care. We do prefer to have a single-payer system; we are all in line with that. Even the AFL-CIO wants it. It takes $20 million off the top that goes to profit and it takes another $10 million that goes to administrating. That saves $30 million but they won’t even put it through the Congressional Budget Office and do the numbers on it, because they know it will save more money than the congressional plans. The insurance companies have bought up the Congress so it looks like they’re going to have free rein over it. But the fight isn’t over, and we’re going to be focusing on that.
What will people who attend your event leave with?
A sense of community, solidarity. It’s hard to find places where people can [find] this. Jobs With Justice is one place we can. We don’t take corporate funding, we don’t take anything but donations from unions—local unions—and individuals. If you go to any other nonprofit, they’re tied hip-and-thigh with corporations, and that is the enemy of the working class. They’re the ones that make a profit for you working hard while you produce all the products, all the services. They make all of the profit and just give you a pittance so you can send it back and pay the taxes for them.