“I Am a Union Woman”


The singer proclaims, "I am a union woman, Just as brave as I can be... And the bosses don't like me." She tells all to "join the C.I.O./N.M.U." She is called a Red and shot at for her activities; her husband denied work; but she still supports the union


The radical National Miners' Union (N.M.U.) attempted to organize miners in the 1930s, but were defeated by the mine owners after bitter and bloody conflicts. The United Mine Workers of America (U.M.W.), part of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (C.I.O.) succeeded a few years later, again after terrible struggle. The song was rewritten [it is based on "Which Side Are You On" - DGE] to suit the new organizing drive.

The note from DGE states that this was based on, "Which Side Are You On?," but this song may predate it. Both were based on a traditional hymn tune. - PJS

Cross references


  • New Lost City Ramblers, "Join the C.I.O." (on NLCR09)


  1. Arnett, pp. 174-175, "I Am a Union Woman" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Greenway-AFP, pp. 269-270, "I Am a Union Woman" (1 text)
  3. Roud #16050
  4. BI, Arn174


Alternate titles: “Join the N. M. U.”; “Join the C. I. O.”
Author: Words: Aunt Molly Jackson/Music: Traditional
Earliest date: 1930s (recorded by author)