From labor leaders, activists, and other public figures, here are words of wisdom and support for the labor movement and all workers on Labor Day. Courtesy of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO.
“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.” – Stewart Acuff, labor organizer
“Power goes to two poles — to those who’ve got the money and those who’ve got the people.”
– Saul Alinsky, community organizer
“Silence never won rights. They are not handed down from above; they are forced by pressures from below.” — Roger Baldwin, a founder of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
“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.” — Boris Block, officer and activist for United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE)
“The most important word in the language of the working class is solidarity.” – Harry Bridges, leader in the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU).
“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, labor historian
“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.” — Clarence Darrow, lawyer and member of ACLU
“The only effective answer to organized greed is organized labor.” — Thomas Donahue, labor leader with AFL-CIO
“Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will.” – Fredrick Douglas, abolitionist and social reformer
“The cost of liberty is less than the cost of repression.” — W.E.B. DuBois, activist and co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People NAACP)
“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.” — William Dudley Haywood, a founder and leader of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)
“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, leader of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America
“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.”
– Joe Hill, activist and member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, also known as the “Wobblies”).
“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, political commentator
“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.” – Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, prominent labor and community organizer, co-founder of the Industrial Workers of the World.