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History of Labor Unions Quotes

They Said It

"We mean to uphold the dignity of labor."

- Initiation oath of the Knights of Labor, 186952
"I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half."

- Jay Gould, nineteenth century railroad executive53
"The labor of a human being is not a commodity or article of commerce."

- Clayton Act, 191454
"The organization of women is not merely a moral question, but also an economic one. Men will never be certain with their conditions unless the conditions of millions of women are improved."

- Fannia Cohn, ILGWU officer, 192555
"I can't talk fellowship to you who are gathered here. Too much blood has been spilled. I know from experience it is up to the working people to save themselves and the only way is through a strong working class movement."

- Rose Schneiderman of the Women's Trade Union League at a fundraiser for victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, 191156
"For a second's sunlight, men must fight like tigers. For the privilege of seeing the color of their children's eyes by the light of the sun, fathers must fight like beasts in the jungle."

- Mary Harris "Mother" Jones, labor organizer57
"Employers and employees alike have learned that in union there is strength, that a coordination of individual effort means an elimination of waste, a bettering of living conditions, and is in fact, the father of prosperity."

- Franklin D. Roosevelt, 192958
"When the union's inspiration through the workers' blood shall run, There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun; Yet what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one, But the union makes us strong."

- Ralph Chaplin, lyrics to the Wobbly anthem "Solidarity Forever" (1915)59
"Labor is not fighting for a larger slice of the national pie-labor is fighting for a larger pie."

- Walter Reuther, 194560
"We got money from gambling, but our real power, our real strength, came from the unions. With the unions behind us, we could shut down the city, or the country for that matter, if we needed to get our way."

- Vincent Carfaro, mobster, 198861

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