Twenty-Five Awesome Labor Quotes

Cesar Chavez

Looking for some great inspirational quotes and words of wisdom about the labor movement? We’ve put together twenty-five of our favorite from activists, presidents, and more!

“Only a fool would try to deprive working men and working women of their right to join the union of their choice.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

“You are never strong enough that you don’t need help.” – Cesar Chavez (image)

“Every piece of progressive social legislation passed by Congress in the 20th century bears a union label.” – George Meany

“The Labor Movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

“All that harms labor is treason to America.” – Abraham Lincoln

“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.” – Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

“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. Phillip Randolph

“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

“The only effective answer to organized greed is organized labor.” – Thomas Donahue

“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.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

“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.” – Bill Haywood

“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.” – Molly Ivins

“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.” – Mother Jones

“Labor is not fighting for a larger slice of the national pie – labor is fighting for a larger pie.” – Walter Reuther

“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.” – John F. Kennedy

“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.” – Eugene Debs

“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

“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 (and women) than any other association.” – Clarence Darrow

“Our movement is of the working people, for the working people, by the working people.” – Samuel Gompers

“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

“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

“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.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

“Never forget, people DIED for the eight hour workday.” – Rebecca Gordon

“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.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

“The problem with unions today is that there aren’t enough of them.” – Martin Johns

Have a quote that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!

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