Less than a century ago the laborer had no rights, little or no respect, and led a life which was socially submerged and barren ... American industry organized misery into sweatshops and proclaimed the right of capital to act without restraints and without conscience. The inspiring answer to this intolerable and dehumanizing existence was economic organization through trade unions. The worker became determined not to wait for charitable impulses to grow in his employer. He constructed the means by which fairer sharing of the fruits of his toil had to be given to him or the wheels of industry, which he alone turned. Martin Luther King
All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence. Martin Luther King
The labor movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress. Out of its bold struggles, economic and social reform gave birth to unemployment insurance, old-age pensions, government relief for the destitute and, above all, new wage levels that meant not mere survival but a tolerable life. The captains of industry did not lead this transformation; they resisted it until they were overcome. When in the thirties the wave of union organization crested over the nation, it carried to secure shores not only itself but the whole society. Martin Luther King
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
The labor movement is organized upon a principle that the strong shall help the weak. The strength of a strong man is a prideful thing, but the unfortunate thing in life is that strong men do not remain strong. And it is just as true of unions and labor organizations as it is true of 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! John L Lewis
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 Philip Randolph
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
The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people. Cesar Chavez
Ten thousand times has the labor movement 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 notwithstanding 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. Eugene V Debs
I am opposing a social order in which it is possible for one man who does absolutely nothing that is useful to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while millions of men and women who work all the days of their lives secure barely enough for a wretched existence. Eugene Victor Debs
It is one of the characteristics of a free and democratic nation that it have free and independent labor unions. Franklin D Roosevelt
The labor movement means just this: it is the last noble protest of the American people against the power of incorporated wealth. Wendell Phillips
Organise, and stand together. Claim something together, and at once; let the nation hear a united demand from the laboring voice, and then, when you have got that, go on after another; but get something. Wendell Phillips
The miners are out of work ... Their problem is much more than a mining problem – it concerns the standards of living not only for themselves but in other parts of the world. Eleanor Roosevelt
In spite of oppressors, in spite of false leaders, in spite of labor’s own lack of understanding of its needs, the cause of the worker continues onward. Slowly his hours are shortened, giving him leisure to read and to think. Slowly his standard of living rises to include some of the good and beautiful things of the world. Slowly the cause of his children becomes the cause of all. His boy is taken from the breaker, his girl from the mill. Slowly those who create the wealth of the world are permitted to share it. The future is in labor’s strong, rough hands. Mother Jones
My friends, it is solidarity of labor 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.’ Mother Jones
Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living! Mother Jones, The Autobiography of Mother Jones 1925
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
To remember the loneliness, the fear and the insecurity of men who once had to walk alone in huge factories, beside huge machines – to realize that labor unions have meant new dignity and pride to millions of our countrymen – human companionship on the job, and music in the home – to be able to see what larger pay checks mean, not to a man as an employee, but as a husband and as a father – to know these things is to understand what American labor means. Adlai Stevenson
What is a labor victory? I maintain that it is a twofold thing. Workers must gain economic advantage, but they must also gain revolutionary spirit, in order to achieve a complete victory. For workers to gain a few cents more a day, a few minutes less a day, and go back to work with the same psychology, the same attitude toward society is to achieve a temporary gain and not a lasting victory. Elizabeth Gurley Flynn
When people ask me, ‘Why can’t labor organize the way it did in the thirties?’ The answer is simple: everything we did then is now illegal. Thomas Geoghegan
There is a dawn approaching that is indicating and shouting to us that it’s our moment. But we’ve got to seize that moment and use what we know so well – how to organize and, fundamentally, how to fight! Tony Mazzocchi, Radio and Machine Workers of America, speech United Electrical 1998
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. Barack Obama
It is essential that there should be organization of labor. This is an era of organization. Capital organizes and therefore labor must organize. Theodore Roosevelt
All wealth is the product of labor. John Locke
The circulation of capital realizes value, while living labor creates value. Karl Marx
And here it becomes evident that the bourgeoisie is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society and to impose its conditions of existence upon society as an over-riding law. It is unfit to rule because it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery, because it cannot help letting him sink into such a state that it has to feed him instead of being fed by him. Society can no longer live under this bourgeoisie; in other words, its existence is no longer compatible with society.
The essential condition for the existence, and for the sway of the bourgeois class, is the formation and augmentation of capital; the condition for capital is wage-labour. Wage-labour rests exclusively on competition between the labourers. The advance of industry, whose involuntary promoter is the bourgeoisie, replaces the isolation of the labourers, due to competition, by their revolutionary combination, due to association. The development of modern industry, therefore, cuts from under its feet the very foundation on which the bourgeoisie produces and appropriates products. What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto
In proportion therefore, as the repulsiveness of the work increases, the wage decreases. ibid.
A class of labourers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labour increase capital. These labourers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market. ibid.
Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society; all that it does is to deprive him of the power to subjugate the labour of others by means of such appropriation. ibid.