Pilgrim Pathways: Notes for a Diaspora People

Incarnational Discipleship

Quotes on the Dignity of Labor

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 the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”  Abraham Lincoln

“Take not from the mouth of labor, the bread that it has earned.” Thomas Jefferson (who apparently never thought to apply this principle to his slaves!).

“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 % has now declined to 7% union households–and the middle class has shrunk with the decreased purchasing power of non-elite salaries accordingly).

“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

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.”  Maratin Luther King, Jr.

“Only a fool would try to deprive working men and working women of their right to join a union of their choice.” Dwight David Eisenhower (last liberal Republican president).

“All that serves labor serves the nation. All that harms is treason. If a man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labor, he is a fool. There is no America without labor, and to fleece the one is to rob the other.”  Abraham Lincoln

“Labor is the great producer of wealth; it moves all other causes.” Daniel Webster

“If I were a worker in a factory, the first thing I would do would be to join a union.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt

“It is time that Americans realize that the place of labor is side by side with the businessman and the farmer–and not one degree lower.”  Harry S. Truman

“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.”  Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Let your watchword be union and progress–and, until then, no surrender.” Samuel Gompers

“Effective labor unions are still by far the most powerful force in society for the protection of the laborer’s rights and the improvement of his or her condition. No amount of employer benevolence, no diffusion of a sympathetic attitude on the part of the public, no increase of beneficial legislation, can adequately supply for the lack of organization among the workers themselves.” Monsignor John A. Ryan

“In light of this fundamental structure of all work… in light of the fact that, labor and capital are indispensable in any social system … it is clear that even if it is because of production in any social system … it is clear that even if it is because of their work needs that people unite to secure their rights, their union remains a constructive factor of social order and solidarity, and it is impossible to ignore it.” Pope John Paul II

“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.” John F. Kennedy


September 6, 2010 - Posted by | economic justice, labor

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