Labor Day 2016 Quotes, History, sayings and solidarity - Happy Labor Day!
LABOR DAY: WHAT IT MEANS
Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
LABOR DAY LEGISLATION
Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From these, a movement developed to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. During the year four more states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.
FOUNDER OF LABOR DAY
More than 100 years after the first Labor Day observance, there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers.
Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those "who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold."
But Peter McGuire's place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.
THE FIRST LABOR DAY
The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.
In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a "workingmen's holiday" on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.
A NATIONWIDE HOLIDAY
The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday — a street parade to exhibit to the public "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations" of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.
The character of the Labor Day celebration has undergone a change in recent years, especially in large industrial centers where mass displays and huge parades have proved a problem. This change, however, is more a shift in emphasis and medium of expression. Labor Day addresses by leading union officials, industrialists, educators, clerics and government officials are given wide coverage in newspapers, radio, and television.
The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation's strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt: It is one of the characteristics of a free and democratic nation that it have free and independent labor unions.
Pope Paul VI: The important role of union organizations must be admitted: their object is the representation of the various categories of workers, their lawful collaboration in the economic advance of society, and the development of the sense of their responsibility for the realization of the common good.
Abraham Lincoln: The strongest bond of human sympathy outside the family relation should be one uniting working people of all nations and tongues and kindreds.
Dwight D. Eisenhower: Only a fool would try to deprive working men and working women of their right to join the union of their choice
"History is a great teacher. Now everyone knows that the labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but enlarged it. By raising the living standards of millions, labor miraculously created a market for industry and lifted the whole nation to undreamed of levels of production. Those who attack labor forget these simple truths, but history remembers them." Martin Luther King Jr.
"Although it is true that only about 20 percent of American workers are in unions, that 20 percent sets the standards across the board in salaries, benefits and working conditions. If you are making a decent salary in a non-union company, you owe that to the unions. One thing that corporations do not do is give out money out of the goodness of their hearts." Molly Ivins
Jimmy Carter: Every advance in this half-century: Social Security, civil rights, Medicare, aid to education... one after another- came with the support and leadership of American Labor.
Today, although there are still sweatshops and other inhumane working conditions for many workers around the world, the labor movement has won numerous victories that many of us take for granted, such as the 5-day work week, 8-hour work day, paid holidays and the end of child labor. -- Robert Alan
The best of wages will not compensate for excessively long working hours which undermine heath. -- Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis
The quality of employees will be directly proportional to the quality of life you maintain for them. -- Charles E. Bryan
The history of America has been largely created by the deeds of its working people and their organizations--there is scarcely an issue that is not influenced by labor’s organized efforts or lack of them. -- William Cahn, Labor historian
The only thing workers have to bargain with is their skill or their labor. Denied the right to withhold it as a last resort, they become powerless. The strike is therefore not a breakdown of collective bargaining-it is the indispensable cornerstone of that process. -- Paul Clark
If you object to unfair treatment, you're an ingrate. If you seek equity and fair consideration, you're uppity. If you demand union security, you're un-American. If you rebel against repressive management tactics, they will lynch and scalp you. But if you are passive and patient, they will take advantage of both. -- Congressman William Clay, Sr.
Never forget, people DIED for the eight hour workday. -- Rebecca Gordon
I want you to pledge to yourselves in this convention to stand as one solid army against the foes of human labor. Think of the thousands who are killed every year and there is no redress for it. We will fight until the mines are made secure and human life valued more than props. Look things in the face. Don't' fear a governor; don't fear anybody. You pay the governor; he has the right to protect you. You are the biggest part of the population in the state. You create its wealth, so I say, "let the fight go on; if nobody else will keep on, I will." -- Mother Jones, 1913
The American Labor Movement has consistently demonstrated its devotion to the public interest. It is, and has been, good for all America. -- John F. Kennedy
Our labor unions are not narrow, self-seeking groups. They have raised wages, shortened hours, and provided supplemental benefits. Through collective bargaining and grievance procedures, they have brought justice and democracy to the shop floor. -- John F. Kennedy
If any man tells you he loves America, yet hates labor, he is a liar. If any man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labor, he is a fool. -- Abraham Lincoln
Below are inspirational quotes from labor leaders, politicians, authors, and activists regarding the Labor Movement.
"You see, Dr. King understood that it is organizing that makes us most human. He knew that when we use our social nature to lift each other up, we express our full humanity. We don't realize our potential in life the way corporate America and their media tells us -- not by pushing others aside or crawling over anyone else's back or kissing somebody's a**, but by linking arms and lifting everyone, everyone's family, everyone's kids, everyone's standard of living. And so today, my brothers and sisters, we are confronted by his memory. We are called by his struggle. We are challenged by his sacrifice."
"They have waged class war on us. It is time for our class to fight back. It's time for us to reach out to one another to fight for the right to organize, to fight corporations that would fight us, to demand that trade agreements protect workers and workers' rights, children, our environment, and our quality of life, and to fight for human dignity."
"When you say fiscal responsibility, it seems to me that you really mean rich people keeping their money."
"I tell people the hell with charity, the only thing you'll get is what you're strong enough to get."
"Power goes to two poles -- to those who've got the money and those who've got the people."
"Yes, you need the water. Yes, you need the sun. But that alone won't give you the plant. You need the working hands to give it life."
"Silence never won rights. They are not handed down from above; they are forced by pressures from below."
Senator Joseph Biden
"If you saw tonight's debate, you saw Governor Sarah Palin give a spirited defense of the same disastrous polices that have failed us for the past eight years. She couldn't identify a single area where she or John McCain would change George W. Bush's economic or foreign policy positions... Let's be clear: Governor Palin and Senator McCain are offering nothing but more of the same failed Bush policies at home and abroad, trying to disguise them in the rhetoric of change... Americans need real solutions and real change... This is the most important presidential election you'll be part of in your life... Now let's get to work and change this country."
"When employers in this country say labor costs are too high, what they're really saying to you is, you have it too good. What they're really saying to you is, all you need is enough to get you into the plant and work."
"People at Bear Stearns get tens of millions for doing a terrible job at manipulating financial markets. And people get minimum wage for taking care of our grandparents."
Emmett J. Bogdon
"We are not complaining about the work. We want to see our hard work reflected in our pay."
Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis
"We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few; but we can't have both."
"Labor cannot stand still. It must not retreat. It must go on, or go under."
"The most important word in the language of the working class is solidarity."
"Those unions that enjoy the right to strike have no guarantee that sacrificing their jobs and their livelihood will result in victory but they nevertheless engage in lengthy strikes, not because they are assured of winning but because they are determined to fight."
"The history of America has been largely created by the deeds of its working people and their organizations. Nor has this contribution been confined to raising wages and bettering work conditions; it has been fundamental to almost every effort to extend and strengthen our democracy."
"You are never strong enough that you don't need help."
William Clay Sr.
"If you object to unfair treatment, you're an ingrate. If you seek equity and fair consideration, you're uppity. If you demand union security, you're un-American. If you rebel against repressive management attacks, they will lynch and scalp you. But if you are passive and patient, they will take advantage of both."
"Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas."
"With all their faults, trade unions have done more for humanity than any other organization of men (and women) that ever existed. They have done more for decency, for honesty, for education, for the betterment of the race, for the developing of character in men (and women) than any other association."
"Solidarity is not a matter of sentiment but a fact, cold and impassive as the granite foundations of a skyscraper. If the basic elements, identity of interest, clarity of vision, honesty of intent, and oneness of purpose, or any of these is lacking, all sentimental pleas for solidarity, and all other efforts to achieve it will be barren of results."
"Ten thousand times the labor movement has stumbled and bruised itself. We have been enjoined by the courts, assaulted by thugs, charged by the militia, traduced by the press, frowned upon in public opinion, and deceived by politicians. But not withstanding all this and all these, labor is today the most vital and potential power this planet has ever known, and its historic mission is as certain of ultimate realization as is the setting of the sun."
"I seek to rise with workers, not rise from them."
Declaration of Independence
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (and women) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among those are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."
"On health care it's nothing new from Mitt Romney - he supports our law when it suits him and runs away from it when it suits his political ambition. His vetoes gutted the very essence of the bill, and if his ideas stood, the number of uninsured in Massachusetts would have only grown. It's fairer to say our bill, with the hallmark provision of shared responsibility from individuals, employers and providers, became law despite Mitt Romney, not because of him."
"The only effective answer to organized greed is organized labor."
"Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will."
"The cost of liberty is less than the cost of repression."
Marion Wright Edelman
"We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee."
"Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile."
"For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning."
"Freedom of speech and freedom of action are meaningless without freedom to think."
"We paid the price to get here. We'll pay the price to stay."
"Time is the most valuable thing on earth: time to think, time to act, time to extend our fraternal relations, time to become better men, time to become better women, time to become better and more independent citizens."
Labor Day "...the day for which the toilers in past centuries looked forward, when their rights and their wrongs would be discussed...that the workers of our day may not only lay down their tools of labor for a holiday, but upon which they may touch shoulders in marching phalanx and feel the stronger for it."
"The trade union movement represents the organized economic power of the workers... It is in reality the most potent and the most direct form of social insurance the workers can establish."
"Our movement is of the working people, for the working people, by the working people."
"Labor Day differs in every essential way from other holidays of the year in any country. All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflict and battles of man's prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another. Labor Day is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race or nation."
Former Senator Phil Gramm
"You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession. We've sort of become a nation of whiners... You just hear this constant whining, complaining... We've never had more natural advantages than we have today...We have benefited greatly from the globalization of the economy in the last 30 years."
"Some men rob you with a six-gun -- others rob you with a fountain pen."
Robert J. Haynes: Mass. AFL-CIO President
"One preventable death is unacceptable; the 76 workplace deaths of 2006 represent not only great personal suffering for loved ones but also signify that we are not making enough progress for all workers. No progress is no good. Our fight for good jobs, safe jobs and worker protections will continue until all workers are able to go to work and return home with their lives, their limbs and their health in tact."
"This is a great holiday if you think about it. All these people in this park are all working people and we're celebrating their contributions, all the good things they do. They built this economy. They built this society. It's good to honor working people. We honor enough other folks."
"Our elected officials have made it clear that they respect and defend the right of workers to organize. I want to acknowledge the continued support of the state legislature in this fight for workers' rights. I thank the bill's lead sponsors, Chairman Robert DeLeo and Senator Robert O'Leary, and I am profoundly grateful for the leadership shown on this issue by Speaker DiMasi and Senate President Murray. A year after Mitt Romney's veto, we have a new Governor, one who has pledged to sign the bill, one who is committed to improving the quality of life of working people, and together with the legislature we have won a major victory for workers in Massachusetts."
"It is such an honor to be this organization's President since 1998, and an officer of this organization for over 20 years. I am thrilled, humbled, and honored to have been re-elected unanimously today by delegates representing the entire scope of organized labor in Massachusetts. It is the greatest honor of my life to be President of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. I love this Labor Movement and the unions in this Commonwealth, and I look forward to fighting with, for and next to our wonderful Executive Council, Central Labor Councils, and our affiliate unions, for another four years on behalf of our members and all workers. It is nice to win, but to borrow a line I heard recently, the winning is in the work. And I'm excited to continue working on all the challenges that face working families."
"It is not an overstatement to say that the installation of this Edward Cohen plaque in the State House is one of the greatest moments in our history. Where else is there a bronze plaque that is dedicated to a slain labor leader and which captures all the amazing contributions of the Labor Movement in such a prominent location as between the offices of the Governor and the Speaker in our esteemed State House? It is truly remarkable."
"Thanksgiving is about family, and is a special opportunity to reflect on what we are grateful for in our lives. This year, I am thankful for the strong Labor Movement in Massachusetts and across the country, and for my union brothers and sisters who fight to make sure family comes first."
"The holidays are a time for peace, brotherhood, and goodwill. This season my thoughts are with all my union brothers and sisters, I wish everyone a very happy holiday."
"If he wasn't so good at being so disingenuous this latest campaign spin from Mitt Romney would be one heck of a punchline. It is absurd on its face that Mitt Romney could say with a straight face that he would bring labor, business and government together. This is the man who, as Governor of Massachusetts, was the first and only governor in the 120-year history of the Massachusetts AFL and Massachusetts AFL-CIO that never met with the President of the state AFL-CIO and never made any overtures to meet with anyone in labor, ever. He was pathologically disdainful of organized labor and working men and women and I hope America doesn't have to make the same mistake Massachusetts did with this guy to learn its lesson."
"We are not a one issue organization or Labor Movement. We never have been. But every so often an issue arises that requires us to advocate a little harder and mobilize our grassroots network to impress upon our elected representatives just how important certain issues are to us. The proposal to establish destination resort casinos is one such issue. We look forward to working to convey the merits and benefits of destination resort casinos to the members of the General Court..... Just as they have been tremendous fighters for workers over the years, we are confident that when confronted with the facts and presented the merits of destination resort casinos, state legislators will see why we took such a strong position and respond favorably."
"The people of Massachusetts, especially working families, deserve a fair hearing on destination resort casinos. I am confident that if we have a fair hearing and can focus on the merits and policies of destination resort casinos, it will be clear to legislators that we can bring high quality economic development to our Commonwealth. And that it is the right thing to do as it will bring thousands of family-sustaining construction and permanent jobs, as well as much needed public revenues. Let's put some life back into our economy and we can start by having a fair hearing on destination resort casinos."
"On behalf of the 40,000 workers who were denied paychecks by their legislators yesterday I am profoundly upset and disappointed that the debate about a real, quality economic development initiative focused on insider procedures, rather than the merits of a piece of legislation that had certain job creation and revenue generating possibilities. At a time when economic insecurity and real angst among working people is at its highest, it is a historic shame that fewer than 50 State Representatives demonstrated the courage and independence to do the right thing for working people, and by advocating for an extensive, thorough, democratic, debate on the merits, do the right thing for democracy. Yesterday working families and democracy lost to politics."
William Dudley Haywood
"If the workers are organized, all they have to do is to put their hands in their pockets and they have got the capitalist class whipped."
“If the workers took a notion they could stop all speeding trains;
Every ship upon the ocean they can tie with mighty chains.
Every wheel in the creation, every mine and every mill;
Fleets and armies of the nation, will at their command stand still.”
"We want a better America, an America that will give its citizens, first of all, a higher and higher standard of living so that no child will cry for food in the midst of plenty."
"If you ever get to the place where injustice doesn't bother you, you're dead."
"Although it is true that only about [13 percent] of American workers are in unions, that [13 percent] sets the standards across the board in salaries, benefits and working conditions. If you are making a decent salary in a non-union company, you owe that to the unions. One thing that corporations do not do is give out money out of the goodness of their hearts."
"My friends it is solidarity we want. We do not want to find fault with each other, but to solidify our forces and say to each other: We must be together; our masters are joined together and we must do the same thing."
"Mourn for the dead. Fight for the living."
"The next generation will not charge us for what we've done; they will charge and condemn us for what we have left undone."
"I live in the United States, but I do not know exactly where. My address is wherever there is a fight against oppression. My address is like my shoes; it travels with me. I abide where there is a fight against wrong."
"Some day the workers will take possession of your city hall, and when we do, no child will be sacrificed on the altar of profit."
John F. Kennedy
"Let every nation know that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe in order to ensure the survival and success of liberty."
"The labor movement is people. Our unions have brought millions of men and women together, made them members one of another, and given them common tools for common goals. Their goals are goals for all America - and their enemies are the enemies for progress. The two cannot be separated."
"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."
" The American Labor Movement has consistently demonstrated its devotion to the public interest. It is, and has been, good for all America."
"For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."
"The way you spell Kennedy is L-A-B-O-R and don't you ever forget it."
"Unfortunately, the current union election system is broken. The nation's labor laws are too weak and too weakly enforced, and union elections are often neither free nor fair. Everyday, employers violate workers' right to organize and write off the minor penalties as the cost of doing business. It's time to fix this broken system. That's why I'll be introducing the Employee Free Choice Act in the Senate."
"The American people spoke up - loudly and clearly - in the last election, saying they want a Congress that stands up for working families. The Employee Free Choice Act is exactly the kind of bold action they were calling for. It is a key part of the Democratic plan to help the struggling middle class and restore the economic security that has been lost during the Bush years."
"Make no mistake about it! There is an organized movement against organized labor and it's called the Bush Administration."
"The Employee Free Choice Act is about more than changing our labor laws - it's about giving workers basic dignity and respect in the workplace. It's the first of many steps we need to take to restore the voice of the American worker, which has been silenced far too long."
Robert F. Kennedy
"Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."
Senator John Kerry
"The Republicans have nothing to run on, no ideas to push, no solutions for America. They'll run a campaign of laughable gimmicks and outright distortions and lies. But we can fight back with the truth - and the truth can win this time."
Martin Luther King Jr.
"All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence."
"As I have said many times, and believe with all my heart, the coalition that can have the greatest impact in the struggle for human dignity here in America is that of the Negro and the forces of labor, because their fortunes are so closely intertwined."
"It is in this area (politics) of American life that labor and the Negro have identical interests. Labor has grave problems today of employment, shorter hours, old age security, housing and retraining against the impact of automation. The Congress and the Administration are almost as indifferent to labor's program as they are toward that of the Negro. Toward both they offer vastly less than adequate remedies for the problems which are a torment to us day after day."
"You are demanding that this city will respect the dignity of labor. So often we overlook the work and the significance of those who are not in professional jobs, of those who are not in the so-called big jobs. But let me say to you tonight that whenever you are engaged in work that serves humanity and is for the building of humanity, it has dignity and it has worth."
"The Labor Movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress."
"The plain truth is that labor is the chief representative force that keeps the real special interests from dominating American political life."
John L. Lewis
"The labor movement is organized upon a principle that the strong shall help the weak. The strength of a strong (wo)man is a prideful thing, but the unfortunate thing in life is that strong (wo)men do not remain strong. And it is just as true of unions and labor organizations as is true of (wo)men and individuals. And whereas today the craft unions of this country may be able to stand upon their own feet and like mighty oaks stand before the gale, defy the lightning, yet the day may come when those organizations will not be able to withstand the lightning and the gale. Now, prepare yourselves by making a contribution to your less fortunate brethren...Organize the unorganized!"
"Increased interest and participation by labor in the affairs of government should make for economic and political stability in the future. Labor has a constitutional and statutory right to participate."
"Let the workers organize. Let the toilers assemble. Let their crystallized voices proclaim their injustices and demand their privileges. Let all thoughtful citizens sustain them, for the future of Labor is the future of America."
"If any man tells you he loves America, yet hates labor, he is a liar. If any man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labor, he is a fool."
"All that harms labor is treason to America."
"The strongest bond of human sympathy outside the family relation should be one uniting working people people of all nations and tongues and kindreds."
[Theories say] "it is assumed that labor and education are incompatible; and any practical combination of them impossible. According to that theory, a blind horse upon a tread-mill, is a perfect illustration of what a laborer should be - all the better for being blind, that he could not tread out of place, or kick understandingly....[therefore] labor insists on universal education."
"...Under the current law, it's the EMPLOYER'S choice. Under the Employee Free Choice Act, it's the EMPLOYEE's choice...James Madison famously wrote that 'If men were angels, no government would be necessary.' Mr. Speaker, if all companies were angels, this bill would not be necessary."
Donald Robert Perry Marquis
"When (someone) tells you that (they) got rich through hard work, ask (them) whose."
Massachusetts AFL-CIO Executive Council
"No matter which of the Democratic candidates wins the Primary Election...we vow to come together behind the Democratic candidate immediately and dedicate our resources, our organization, our passion, and our energy in a campaign of steadfast solidarity to educate our members and their families as to the abysmal record of sixteen years of Republican governors and highlight the 'bread and butter' issues that should be the focus of this election in order to ensure a Democratic victory on November 7th."
"The American trade union movement - unlike any other labor movement in the world - is committed to working within the American political and economic system in order to achieve the social and economic justice promised by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution."
"Every piece of progressive social legislation passed by Congress in the 20th century bears a union label."
"The basic goal of labor will not change. It is - as it has always been, and I'm sure always will be - to better the standards of life for all those who work for wages and to seek decency and justice and dignity for all Americans."
"Unions were created to make living conditions just a little better than they were before they were created, and the union that does not manifest that kind of interest in human beings cannot endure."
Senator Barack Obama
"Politics didn't lead me to working folks; working folks led me to politics."
"All politics is local."
Pope John Paul II
"Solidarity is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good, that is, to the good of all and of each individual because we are all responsible for each other."
Pope Paul VI
"The important role of union organizations must be admitted: their object is the representation of the various categories of workers, their lawful collaboration in the economic advance of society, and the development of the sense of their responsibility for the realization of the common good."
A. Phillip Randolph
"The essence of trade unionism is social uplift. The labor movement has been the haven for the dispossessed, the despised, the neglected, the downtrodden, the poor."
"A community is democratic only when the humblest and weakest person can enjoy the highest civil, economic, and social rights that the biggest and most powerful possess."
"Before the reward there must be labor. You plant before you harvest. You sow in tears before you reap joy."
"There’s a direct relationship between the ballot box and the bread box, and what the union fights for and wins at the bargaining table can be taken away in the legislative halls."
"Labor is not fighting for a larger slice of the national pie - labor is fighting for a larger pie."
"Courage is more exhilarating than fear, and in the long run it is easier."
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
"No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country. By living wages I mean more than a bare subsistence level - I mean the wages of decent living."
"True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made."
"We have tried you good people of the public - and we have found you wanting...I can't talk fellowship to you who are gathered here. Too much blood has been spilled. I know from my experience it is up to the working people to save themselves."
"What the woman who labors wants is the right to live, not simply exist -- the right to life as the rich woman has the right to life, and the sun and music and art. You have nothing that the humblest worker has not a right to have also. The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too."
"We need a president who puts Barney Smith before Smith Barney."
John Sweeney: President of the AFL-CIO
"The union movement stands for the fundamental moral values that make America strong: quality education for our children, affordable health care for every person - not just some - an end to poverty, secure pensions and wages that enable families to sustain the middle-class life that has fueled this nation's prosperity and strength. Union members and other working family activists don't just vote our moral values - we live them. We fight for them, day in, day out. Our commitment to economic and social justice propels us and everything we do."
"We want our tax dollars to provide a hand up for the millions of working people who live on Main Street and not a handout to a privileged band of overpaid corporate executives."
"It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it's a depression when you lose yours."
"The issue is jobs. You can't get away from it: jobs. Having a buck or two in your pocket and feeling like somebody."
"There's no evil that's inflicted more pain and more suffering than racism - and it's something that we in the Labor Movement have a special responsibility to challenge. It's our special responsibility because we know, better than anyone else, how racism is used to divide working people. We've seen how companies set worker against worker - how they throw whites a few extra crumbs off the table - and how it's black and Latino workers who get the dirtiest, most dangerous jobs. But we've seen something else too. We've seen that when we cross that color line and stand together no one can keep us down."
"Without Labor no one prospers." -Popular Banner
"May the warmth and glow of each candle you light make your heart and home and your Hannukah bright." -Traditional Hannukah Greeting
"If you come only to help me, you can go back home. But if you consider my struggle as part of your struggle for survival, then maybe we can work together." -Aboriginal Wise Saying
"St. Patrick's Day is an enchanted time - a day to begin transforming winter's dreams into summer's magic." -Irish Proverb
"We'll hold this line until hell freezes over - then we'll hold it on ice skates." - Anonymous Picket Sign
"Better to starve fighting than to starve working." - A slogan of the 1912 Lawrence, Massachusetts Strike
"Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it." - Chinese Proverb
"I find the intellect of the intellectual much less discerning than the common sense of the common man." - sign in the campaign office of Anthony Galluccio
"Our work continues." - Written on the historic Edward Cohen "Labor in Massachusetts" Plaque
Frank Lloyd Wright
"If capitalism is fair then unionism must be. If men and women have a right to capitalize their ideas and the resources of their country, then that implies the right of men and women to capitalize their labor."
In my time we was beaten, rotten egged, cussed, threatened, tarred and feathered and blackballed from other jobs. Hurt in so many different ways. But at our meetings our advice to the men and women that was hurt, we would just say to them what the good book says, the Lord will not put more upon you than you can bear, at least none of us lost our lives like some did in the early 30's. Thank God!... —W.M. "Jack" Anderson, first local president, UAW local 645 (TX)
One of these days you'll see the light and we'll have the union in. Just a matter of time.—W.M. "Jack" Anderson, first local president, UAW local 645 (TX)
Without unions, workers will lose many of the protections against abusive employers. Wages for all will be depressed, even as corporate profits soar. The American Dream will be destroyed for millions. And we will have a government of the corporations, by the already powerful, for the wealthy. —Kenneth Bernstein, teacher and blogger, in a 2011CNN.com opinion pieceon the Wisconsin measure to strip public employees of collective bargaining rights Strong, responsible unions are essential to industrial fair play. Without them the labor bargain is wholly one-sided. The parties to the labor contract must be nearly equal in strength if justice is to be worked out, and this means that the workers must be organized and that their organizations must be recognized by employers as a condition precedent to industrial peace.—Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis Labor can not stand still. It must not retreat. It must go on, or go under.—Harry Bridges
Those unions that enjoy the right to strike have no guarantee that sacrificing their jobs and their livelihood will result in victory but they nevertheless engage in lengthy strikes, not because they are assured of winning but because they are determined to fight.—William Burrus, 1998
The role of a labor union is to ensure that the balance is not tipped in favor of the employer when employees do not receive wages and benefits commensurate with their contribution.—William Burrus
Labor will remain united and continue to work to protect the interests of America’s working families.—William Burrus, November 2004
The history of America has been largely created by the deeds of its working people and their organizations--there is scarcely an issue that is not influenced by labor’s organized efforts or lack of them.— William Cahn, Labor historian
The Union is not a fee-for-service organization, it is a family.—Sue Carney, APWU Director of Human Relations
Every advance in this half-century--Social Security, civil rights, Medicare, aid to education, one after another--came with the support and leadership of American Labor.—Jimmy Carter
Labor Unions are the leading force for democratization and progress.—Noam Chomsky
With all their faults, trade unions have done more for humanity than any other organization of men that ever existed. They have done more for decency, for honesty, for education, for the betterment of the race, for the developing of character in men, than any other association of men.— Clarence Darrow
There is no such thing as the open shop, really. There is a union shop and a nonunion shop. Everybody that believes in the open shop disbelieves in the union shop, whatever they say.— Clarence Darrow
There is certainly...something wrong in that form of unionism whose leaders are the lieutenants of capitalism.—Eugene V. Debs
If you go to the city of Washington, you will find that almost all of those corporation lawyers and cowardly politicians, members of congress, and mis-representatives of the masses claim, in glowing terms, that they have risen from the ranks to places of eminence and distinction. I am very glad that I cannot make that claim for myself. I would be ashamed to admit that I had risen from the ranks. When I rise it will be with the ranks.—Eugene V. Debs What can Labor do for itself? The answer is not difficult. Labor can organize, it can unify; it can consolidate its forces. This done, it can demand and command.—Eugene V. Debs
The only effective answer to organized greed is organized labor.—Thomas Donahue
The scaffold has never yet and never will destroy an idea or a movement.—Joseph Ettor, IWW organizer We couldn't see things with the eyes of 1962. We saw them with the eyes of 1905 through about 1917. Well, we certainly never heard of such a thing and we never thought it would be possible, that there would be social security or unemployment insurance... Also, we never heard of vacations with pay. We never heard of vacations, let alone vacations with pay. We never heard of seniority as it is understood today. There were no pensions for retirement of workers.—Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, 1962
There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there.—Indira Gandhi
Our movement is of the working people, for the working people, by the working people. . . . There is not a right too long denied to which we do not aspire in order to achieve; there is not a wrong too long endured that we are not determined to abolish.—Samuel Gompers
Where trade unions are most firmly organized, there are the rights of the people most respected.—Samuel Gompers
To be free, the workers must have choice. To have choice they must retain in their own hands the right to determine under what conditions they will work.—Samuel Gompers In present conditions a workman may not unnaturally believe that only by belonging to a union can he secure a contract that shall be fair to him....If that belief, whether right or wrong, may be held by a reasonable man, it seems to me that it may be enforced by law in order to establish the equality of position...in which liberty of contract begins.—Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes
We are all here because we want to serve our brothers and sisters, and each individual should be given a constant opportunity to do that in the ways that will best benefit the Union as a whole.— Peter Holter-Mehren, WAPWU President (2002)
The story of the labor movement needs to be taught in every school in this land.... America is a living testimonial to what free men and women, organized in free democratic trade unions, can do to make a better life. We ought to be proud of it.—Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, 1977 speech before the Minnesota AFL-CIO Convention Every man is dishonest who lives upon the labor of others, no matter if he occupies a throne.— Robert Green Ingersoll
Although it is true that only about 20 percent of American workers are in unions, that 20 percent sets the standards across the board in salaries, benefits and working conditions. If you are making a decent salary in a non-union company, you owe that to the unions. One thing that corporations do not do is give out money out of the goodness of their hearts.—Molly Ivins
I am convinced that if the members of labor organizations would follow some of the tactics of the employers organizations their movement could more successfully withstand its opponents and to progress as it has in the past. But if we are to be successful we must have, above all things, more loyalty and less selfishness.— Charles E. James, African-American Union leader, 1907
The home is the most effective place to preach the gospel of unionism.— Charles E. James, African-American Union leader, 1905
A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned -- this is the sum of good government.—Thomas Jefferson
The problem with unions today is that there aren't enough of them.--Martin Johns, 2011 The labor movement was not originated by man. The labor movement, my friends, was a command from God Almighty.—Mother Jones
The next generation will not charge us for what we've done; they will charge and condemn us for what we have left undone.—Mother Jones
The American Labor Movement has consistently demonstrated its devotion to the public interest. It is, and has been, good for all America.—John F. Kennedy
Our labor unions are not narrow, self-seeking groups. They have raised wages, shortened hours, and provided supplemental benefits. Through collective bargaining and grievance procedures, they have brought justice and democracy to the shop floor.—John F. Kennedy
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.—John F. Kennedy
If a man hasn't discovered something that he would die for, he isn't fit to live.--Martin Luther King, Jr.
In our society it is murder, psychologically, to deprive a man of a job or an income. You are in substance saying to that man that he has no right to exist. You are in a real way depriving him of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, denying in his case the very creed of his society.--Martin Luther King, Jr.
If hard work were such a wonderful thing, surely the rich would have kept it all to themselves.— Lane Kirkland
We have come too far, -- struggled too long, -- sacrificed too much and have too much left to do, -- to allow that which we have achieved for the good of all to be swept away without a fight. And we have not forgotten how to fight.— Lane Kirkland
Our struggle is the struggle of every working man and woman in America. We built this country, we have fought and died in its wars, paid our taxes and built every road and building in it, from one coast to the other. And all we've asked in return is a fair day's pay for a fair day's work.—Moe Lepore, President Boston Metro Area Local APWU (2010) A working class hero is something to be.—John Lennon
Let the workers organize. Let the toilers assemble. Let their crystallized voice proclaim their injustices and demand their privileges. Let all thoughtful citizens sustain them, for the future of Labor is the future of America.—John L. Lewis
If any man tells you he loves America, yet hates labor, he is a liar. If any man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labor, he is a fool.—Abraham Lincoln
Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if Labor had not first existed. Labor is superior to capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.—Abraham Lincoln
All that harms labor is treason to America.—Abraham Lincoln
I am glad to see that a system of labor prevails under which laborers can strike when they want to.—Abraham Lincoln
Anyone with a part-time job works full-time for half salary.—Denise D. Lynn
When a man tells you that he got rich through hard work, ask him whose.--Don Marquis
One cannot have a trade union or a democratic election without freedom of speech, freedom of association and assembly. Without a democratic election, whereby people choose and remove their rulers, there is no method of securing human rights against the state. No democracy without human rights, no human rights without democracy, and no trade union rights without either. That is our belief; that is our creed.—George Meany, 1979
The basic goal of labor will not change. It is -- as it has always been, and I am sure always will be -- to better the standards of life for all who work for wages and to seek decency and justice and dignity for all Americans.—George Meany
Labor never quits. We never give up the fight – no matter how tough the odds, no matter how long it takes.—George Meany
Only through a union built on real union principles can we hope to win real economic justice.—Richard Myers
The true face of the unions is not now a man in a hard hat as much as it is a woman in a classroom or in cleaning smocks.—Karen Nussbaum, SEIU
It was working men and women who made the 20th century the American century. It was the labor movement that helped secure so much of what we take for granted today. The 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, family leave, health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, retirement plans. The cornerstones of the middle-class security all bear the union label.—President Barack Obama, speech at Laborfest,September 6, 2010 The labor movement means just this: It is the last noble protest of the American people against the power of incorporated wealth.— Wendell Phillips
The essence of trade unionism is social uplift. The labor movement traditionally has been the haven for the dispossessed, the despised, the neglected, the downtrodden, the poor.—A. Philip Randolph
Since all the workers in the industrial community get the benefits of these services performed by the union, made possible by the union, we believe that since all the workers share in the services all the workers ought to share in the cost of providing those services.—Walter Reuther
Labor is not fighting for a larger slice of the national pie--labor is fighting for a larger pie.—Walter Reuther
The most important resource of a union is its rank and file.—Ray Rogers
If I went to work in a factory, the first thing I'd do would be to join a Union.—Franklin D. Roosevelt
Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy, forget in time that men have died to win them.—Franklin D. Roosevelt
It is to the real advantage of every producer, every manufacturer and every merchant to cooperate in the improvement of working conditions, because the best customer of American industry is the well-paid worker.—Franklin D. Roosevelt
The main mistake made by unions is people not being willing to talk to people that you strongly disagree with. Not just talk, but communicate.—Pete Seeger, folksinger, songwriter, activist, pacifist, and humanist
Suppose they’re working you so hard it’s just outrageous, They’re paying you all starvation wages; You go to the boss, and the boss would yell, "Before I'd raise your pay I’d see you all in Hell." Well, he’s puffing a big see-gar and feeling mighty slick, He thinks he’s got your union licked. He looks out the window, and what does he see But a thousand pickets, and they all agree He’s a bastard - unfair - slave driver - Bet he beats his own wife. —Pete Seeger, folksinger, songwriter, activist, pacifist, and humanist, from "Talking Union" (1941) Without labor nothing prospers. —Sophocles
Unions have been the best anti-poverty program that actually worked and did not cost the government a dime. —Andy Stern, SEIU President
Let workers decide if they want to be divided from the other union members in their industry so that each union makes its own deals with employers instead of uniting workers' strength - or be part of one, powerful, industry-based movement.—Andy Stern, SEIU President
When fewer workers have unions, the standard of living falls for everyone and the gap between the rich and poor grows.—John Sweeney, 2003
As it has over the decades, the union movement stands for the fundamental moral values that make America strong: quality education for our children, affordable health care for every person—not just some—an end to poverty, secure pensions and wages that enable families to sustain the middle-class life that has fueled this nation’s prosperity and strength. Union members and other working family activists don’t just vote our moral values—we live them. We fight for them, day in, day out. Our commitment to economic and social justice propels us and everything we do.—John Sweeney, November 2004
We believe hard work nourishes the soul and should nourish the body and support the family as well. We believe every one of us has an equal claim to the prosperity of America. And that it’s our job to ensure a better life for the generations that come after us.—John Sweeney, November 2004
Working people want a labor movement strong enough to help return balance to our economy, fairness to our tax system, security to our families and moral and economic standing to our nation.—AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, May 20, 2011 The defense of our rights and our dignity, as well as efforts to never let ourselves to be overcome by the feeling of hatred--this is the road we have chosen.—Lech Walesa Labor in this country is independent and proud. It has not to ask the patronage of capital, but capital solicits the aid of labor.—Daniel Webster
As can be seen in our history, the only answer to a powerful business leader is a powerful labor union.— Hilton M. Weiss