CONTACT: GEORGE MCCRORY
300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0012; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Aug. 30, 2001
Minnesota union member pens winning song for UI Labor Center contest
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Jim Pichler, a 38-year member of the International Association
of Machinists, has penned the winning song in the University of Iowa Labor
Center's 50th Anniversary Labor Song Contest.
"Union Song" was chosen from 20 entries from entrants from 10
states, including Iowa. The Labor Center sponsored the contest to mark its
50th year of labor education. (Click here
to hear "Union Song" in Real Audio. Requires Real Player, available
for download free here.)
"Rather than sponsor an event or dinner to celebrate our anniversary,
we wanted to do something that represented what we do as labor educators,"
said Clara Oleson, an educator at the Labor Center. "There's a long tradition
of work and union songs, and so this contest was a great way to celebrate
the union movement and its values."
Pichler, 58, of St. Michael, Minn. (near Minneapolis), is financial auditor
for the Machinists. He won a $500 prize from the center and a $200 private
gift for his winning composition. He doesn't read music and only plays songs
by ear, so the Labor Center will get the song transcribed into sheet music
so it can be played and sung at labor meetings and gatherings around the state.
"I play about three or four times a year, usually at a cookout, or
things like that. I have always been able to make up words that rhyme on the
spot -- don't ask me where they come from," Pichler said. "I never
expected to win the contest, and I feel honored to have done so."
The song premiered at the Iowa State Federation of Labor annual convention
Aug. 17 in Waterloo with Pichler dedicating its first live performance to
Roberta Till-Retz, an educator at the UI Labor Center. Contest judges included
Si Kahn, a renowned labor and folk music composer; David Gompper, director
of the Center for New Music at the UI; and Midge Slater of the Communications
Workers of America.
Here's a sample of the lyrics:
The union is here for you and me,
It gets stronger with every member you see,
So come and join the union and you will be,
One of the elite of society,
Come and join the union, come and be free.
(Chorus) - The darkness of the night,
Gives way to a brighter day,
The union way of life,
Gives way to better pay.
For more information, contact Oleson at (319) 335-4144 or firstname.lastname@example.org.