LaborFest Salutes Workers, Here and Abroad

by Emily Alpert on July 6, 2005

On Tuesday, July 5, LaborFest, an arts festival celebrating the history and culture of working people worldwide, kicked off its 12th annual festival, “Taking On the Boss From Baghdad to the Bay”. The kickoff event featured the San Francisco premiere of Xialou Guo’s “The Concrete Revolution”, a documentary on China’s current construction boom and its impact on Chinese workers, as well as “Mardi Gras: Made in China”, a film on the production of Mardi Gras beads in China.

LaborFest is international in scope – most recently, LaborFests have sprouted in Osaka and Tokyo – but its origins are local. The festival, established in 1994, marks the anniversary of “Bloody Thursday”, July 5, 1934, when longshoreman Howard Sperry and cook Nick Bordoise were shot and killed by San Francisco police during the longshoremen’s West Coast strike. “Blood ran red in the streets of San Francisco yesterday,” reads a period news article from the San Francisco Chronicle, which estimated thirty-two people shot and “hundreds” injured.

LaborFest 2005 runs through July 31, and features a wide variety of film screenings, tours, readings and lectures. A full schedule is available at Here’s a sampling of the festival’s offerings – from your backyard to the ends of the earth.

Walking Tour by Dave Giesen: Land, Labor and Buildings
Saturday, July 9, 10AM

Historian and instructor in land-use economics Dave Giesen leads a “brisk, provocative” two-hour tour through downtown SF, highlighting labor’s role in creating the city by the bay. Meet at Dewey Monument in the center of Union Square. The tour will end at the corner of Market and Montgomery Streets.

Filipino Labor Cultural Solidarity Night: There’s Blood In Your Coffee
Friday, July 15, 7PM

Speakers from Southern Tagalog Exposure, a progressive media center, and PAMANTIK-KMU, a Southern Tagalog workers’ movement, discuss the government and corporate repression of Nestle factory workers on strike in Laguna, Phillipines. At the Filipino Community Center at 35 San Juan Avenue, near Mission. Call 415-333-6267 for details.

Latin American Working Class Film and Video Festival
Thursday, July 21, 7PM

Raymunod Gleyzer’s “The Traitors”, released in 1973, depicts a trade unionist turned Peronist bureaucrat and his betrayal of Argentinian workers; “Greve!” by Joao Batista Andrade, is a documentary on the 1979 Brazilian auto workers’ strike. Spanglish speakers beware: No English subtitles. At the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, 2868 Mission Street.

I, Candidate Upton Sinclair: Performed by Jay Martin
Friday, July 22, 7PM
Saturday, July 30, 7PM
$10.00 (No one turned away for lack of funds)

In 1934, legendary muckraker Upton Sinclair ran for governor of California, pledging to end poverty. This one-man show, based upon Sinclair’s memoir, I, Candidate for Governor, and How I Got Licked, revisits the campaign and topsy-turvy California politics. At the EXIT Theatre, 156 Eddy Street. Call 415-673-3847 to reserve tickets.

Writing Workshop for Working People
Saturday, July 23, 1PM

Labor writer and historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz conducts this workshop for working people to “write about their lives for themselves and others”. At the EXIT Theatre, 156 Eddy Street.

Zapatista Strippers, Revolutionary Who .
Saturday, July 23, 8PM
$10-20 (Sliding scale)

Isis Rodriguez and Daisy Anarchy, veteran SF activists and performers, smash the sex-worker stereotype in a live show featuring theater, dance and spoken word. Sponsored by Sex Workers Organized for Labor, Human and Civil Rights and the Erotic Service Providers Union. At the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, 2868 Mission Street.

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