- With all the right to work falsehoods being pushed by politicians and the negative spin on unions we increasingly see in the media, it might do us all well to remember that many great leaders have expressed support for the labour movement. To that end, this will be the first in a series of notable labour-related statements from great leaders. We begin the series with US Presidents, both past and present.
President Abraham Lincoln – 16th President of the United States
- 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.
- 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.
- I am glad to see that a system of labor prevails under which laborers can strike when they want to.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt – 32nd President of the United States
- If I went to work in a factory, the first thing I'd do would be to join a Union.
- 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.
- Goods produced under conditions which do not meet a rudimentary standard to decency should be regarded as contraband and not allowed to pollute the channels of international commerce.
- It is to the real advantage of every producer, every manufacturer and every merchant to cooperate in the improvement of working conditions, because the best customer of American industry is the well-paid worker.
- The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.
- Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy, forget in time that men have died to win them.
Harry S. Truman – 33rd President of the United States
- 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 John F. Kennedy – 35th President of the United States
- The American Labor Movement has consistently demonstrated its devotion to the public interest. It is, and has been, good for all America.
- Our labor unions are not narrow, self-seeking groups. They have raised wages, shortened hours, and provided supplemental benefits. Through collective bargaining and grievance procedures, they have brought justice and democracy to the shop floor.
President Barack Obama – 44th President of the United States
- If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I'm in the White House, I will put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself and I will walk on that picket line with you as President of the United States of America. Because workers deserve to know that somebody is standing in their corner.
- It was working men and women who made the 20th century the American century. It was the labor movement that helped secure so much of what we take for granted today. The 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, family leave, health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, retirement plans. The cornerstones of the middle-class security all bear the union label.