Happy Labor Day!

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

Woohoo Labor Day! For many people, this is a day to kick back, welcome autumn, and eat a burger. But this is a very special Labor Day for me! It's my first as a member of the United Auto Workers Union. How will I be celebrating? By laboring! But I have to say that it's pretty cool to no longer live in a "Right to Work" state (*cough* Utah *cough*). My union fights for my health and dental care, decent working hours, and a fair wage. Yay! What does your union do?

I took a course my first semester as an undergrad about the history of labor in the US. We read books about slave labor to the Lowell Mill Girls to the Wobblies. Totally fascinating. I'm pretty passionate about worker's rights and love all of the people that fought for the working and middle classes of the past.

Here's one of my favorite songs I learned in that class:

Thanks for indulging me, Dear Blogosphere. Now... if you wish, enjoy some Labor Day quotes!

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! 
-Mother Jones

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.
-Dr Martin Luther King, Jr

Only a fool would try to deprive working men and women of the right to join the union of their choice. 
-President Dwight D Eisenhower (*cough* Reagan *cough* Dub-ya)

What does labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails, more books and less arsenals, more learning and less vice, more constant work and less crime, more leisure and less greed, more justice and less revenge. 
-Samuel Gompers

It is time that all Americans realized that the place of labor is side by side with the businessman and with the farmer, and not one-degree lower. 
-President Harry S Truman 

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.
-Sidney Hillman

We insist that labor is entitled to as much respect as property. But our workers with hand and brain deserve more than respect for their labor. They deserve practical protection in the opportunity to use their labor at a return adequate to support them at a decent and constantly rising standard of living, and to accumulate a margin of security against the inevitable vicissitudes of life. 
-President Franklin D Roosevelt

Those who would destroy or further limit the rights of organized labor -- those who cripple collective bargaining or prevent organization of the unorganized -- do a disservice to the cause of democracy. 
-President John F Kennedy

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.
-Dr Martin Luther King, Jr

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.
-William Cahn

The history of the labor movements 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 Humphrey, Jr

In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, as 'right-to-work.' It provides no 'rights' and no 'works.' Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining... We demand this fraud be stopped.
-Dr Martin Luther King, Jr

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.
-President Abraham Lincoln

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

The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people.
-Cesar Chavez

1 remarks:

Anonymous said...

As a former Teamster I can tell you that union wages are much better than non-union wages. Molly Ivins said it very well - corporations do not give out money out the goodness of their hearts. If there were more union jobs today our economy would be much better. Thanks for reminding us about the fights for workers' rights. I wish it were a happier story.