Strike action

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A Strike action is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became common during the Industrial Revolution, when mass labor became important in factories and mines.

Quotes[edit]

  • This paper examines the economic impact of the 1979 labor strike against lettuce producer-shippers in the Imperial Valley of California. The theory presented suggests that formidable problems are encountered by agricultural labor unions in obtaining higher wages for farm workers. During the 1979 strike, ironically the returns to many of the lettuce producers in the Imperial Valley increased substantially.
  • We shall Strike. We shall pursue the revolution we have proposed. We are sons of the Mexican Revolution, a revolution of the poor seeking, bread and justice. Our revolution will not be armed, but we want the existing social order to dissolve, we want a new social order. We are poor, we are humble, and our only choices is to Strike in those ranchers where we are not treated with the respect we deserve as working men, where our rights as free and sovereign men are not recognized. We do not want the paternalism of the rancher; we do not want the contractor; we do not want charity at the price of our dignity. We want to be equal with all the working men in the nation; we want just wage, better working conditions, a decent future for our children. To those who oppose us, be they ranchers, police, politicians, or speculators, we say that we are going to continue fighting until we die, or we win. We shall overcome.
  • There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time.
    • Calvin Coolidge, as governor of Massachusetts, telegram to Samuel Gompers (September 14, 1919), regarding the Boston police strike. Reported in Calvin Coolidge, Have Faith in Massachusetts (1919), p. 223.
  • Government employee unions have vastly more power than do private-sector unions because the entities they work for are mostly monopolies. When the employees of a grocery store, for example, go on strike and shut down the store or grocery chain, consumers can shop elsewhere, and the grocery store management is perfectly free to hire replacement workers. In contrast, when a city teachers’ or garbage truck drivers union goes on strike, there is no school or garbage collection as long as the strike goes on. is gives the government union enormous bargaining power as elected officials must then deal with the rabid complaints of voters about the absence of schools or garbage collection and are pressured to quickly give in to the union’s demands.
    In addition, government school teachers often are tenured after only two or three years and civil service regulations make it extremely costly, if not impossible, to hire replacement workers. Thus, when government bureaucrats go on strike they have the ability to completely shut down the entire “industry” that they work in indefinitely. This is the primary reason why the expenses of state and local governments have skyrocketed in recent decades.
    • Thomas DiLorenzo, Organized Crime: The Unvardnished Truth About Government (2012, Mises Institute) 143-144
  • Although recourse must always be had first to a sincere dialogue between the parties, a strike, nevertheless, can remain even in present-day circumstances a necessary, though ultimate, aid for the defense of the workers' own rights and the fulfillment of their just desires.
  • Strike against war, for without you no battles can be fought. Strike against manufacturing shrapnel and gas bombs and all other tools of murder. Strike against preparedness that means death and misery to millions of human beings. Be not dumb, obedient slaves in an army of destruction. Be heroes in an army of construction.
  • When I was leaving Poland at the end of 1968 (I had not been in any Western country for at least six previous years), I had as somewhat vague idea of what the radical student movement and different leftist groups or parties might be. What I saw and read I found pathetic and disgusting in nearly all (still: not all) cases. I do not shed tears for a few windows smashed in demonstrations, that old bitch, consumer capitalism, will survive it. Neither do I find scandalous the rather natural ignorance of young people. What impressed me was mental degradation of a kind I had never seen before in any leftist movement. I saw young people trying to "reconstitute" universities and to liberate them from horrifying, savage, monstrous, fascist oppression. The list of demands, with variations, was very similar all over the world of campuses. These fascist pigs of the Establishment want us to pass examinations while we are making the revolution; let them give all of us A grades without examinations; curiously enough, the anti-fascist warriors wanted to get their degrees and diplomas in such fields as mathematics, sociology or law, and not in such as carrying posters, distributing leaflets or destroying offices. And sometimes they got what they wanted, the fascist pigs of the establishment gave them grades without examinations. Very often there were demands for abolishing altogether some subjects of teaching as irrelevant, e.g. foreign languages (these fascists want us, internationalist revolutionaries, to waste time in learning languages, why? To prevent us from making world revolution!) In one place revolutionary philosophers went on strike because they got a reading list including Plato, Descartes and other bourgeois idiots, instead of relevant great philosophers like Che Guevara and Mao.
  • A former rector of San Marcos, the oldest university of the Americas, declared to me more than ten years ago that he had resigned his exalted office because either the students or the professors were on strike. Regular teaching had become well-nigh impossible.
    • Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Lefism: From de Sade and Marx to Hitler and Marcuse, Arlington House, (1974) p. 609, note 31
  • Calvin Coolidge, when Governor of Massachusetts, refused to allow a police strike in 1919, the one President Wilson criticized is was an act of great courage, since it could have led to public disorder and chaos. Voters agreed and Coolidge was propelled into the vice presidency and then the presidency in 1923 President Ronald Reagan also fired the federal air traffic controllers in 1981, when they illegally went on strike But these were rare exceptions As the decades passed, fewer and fewer public officals dared to stand up to labor and to government labor in particular
    • Hunter Lewis, Crony Capialism: 2008-2012, AC2 books, p 211
  • I am glad to know that there is a system of labor where the laborer can strike if he wants to! I would to God that such a system prevailed all over the world.
    • Abraham Lincoln, speech at Hartford, Connecticut (March 5, 1860), as reported in the Hartford Daily Courant (March 6, 1860), reported in Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953), vol. 4, p. 7.
  • Although the union leadership may recognize early in negotiations that the firm cannot or will not meet the workers' demands, the rank and file of the union often do not understand the impracticability of their position until after the workers have struck and the firm fails to surrender.
  • Imagine that General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler jointly agreed to raise the price of the cars they sold by $2,000: Their profits would rise as every American who bought a car paid more. Some Americans would no longer be able to afford a car at the higher price, so the automakers would manufacture and sell fewer vehicles. Then they would need--and hire--fewer workers. The Detroit automakers' stock prices would rise, but the overall economy would suffer. That is why federal anti-trust laws prohibit cartels and the automakers cannot collude to raise prices.
    Now consider how the United Auto Workers (UAW)--the union representing the autoworkers in Detroit--functions. Before the current downturn, the UAW routinely went on strike unless the Detroit automakers paid what they demanded-- until recently, $70 an hour in wages and benefits. Gold-plated UAW health benefits for retirees and active workers added $1,200 to the cost of each vehicle that GM produced in 2007. Other benefits, such as full retirement after 30 years of employment and the recently eliminated JOBS bank (which paid workers for not working), added more.
    Some of these costs come out of profits, and some get passed to consumers through higher prices. UAW members earn higher wages, but every American who buys a car pays more, stock owners' wealth falls, and some Americans can no longer afford to buy a new car. The automakers also hire fewer workers because they now make and sell fewer cars.
  • Strikes, boycott, parliamentarism, meetings and demonstrations are all good forms of struggle as means for preparing and organising the proletariat. But not one of these means is capable of abolishing existing inequality. All these means must be concentrated in one principal and decisive means; the proletariat must rise and launch a determined attack upon the bourgeoisie in order to destroy capitalism to its foundations. This principal and decisive means is the socialist revolution.
  • If we are rewarded according to our need, not according to our work, how do you get people to work at all -- they would get their income without work if the need it without work? Further, how would one get people to work where they are needed, rather than where they want to if their income is independent of their work and of the demand for it and depends only on their need? Compulsion would have to replace the inducements of the market which now attract people to the occupations in which they are needed and to the employers who can use them. Only slave labor can be rewarded according to need-as seen by the slave holder, of course. And slave labor is not efficient. Therefore the Soviet Union has now returned to an incentive system which differs from ours only by being much steeper and leading to greater inequalities.
    If a demonstration was needed, the recent events in Poland certainly furnish it. In that socialist country the workers went on strike against the management of the socialized industries. What more is needed to make it clear that the classless society Marx imagined in which everyone wouldshare the same interest is a dream that cannot be realized, contrary to what he thought, by socializing the means of production?
    • Ernest Van Den Haag, Marxism as Pseudo-Science, Reason Papers No. 12 (Spring 1987), pp. 26-32.
"...my observations convinced me that the miners were worse off at the end of a strike." Booker T. Washington
  • At the end of my second year at Hampton, by the help of some money sent me by my mother and brother John, supplemented by a small gift from one of the teachers at Hampton, I was enabled to return to my home in Malden, West Virginia, to spend my vacation. When I reached home I found that the salt-furnaces were not running, and that the coal-mine was not being operated on account of the miners being out on a “strike.” This was something which, it seemed, usually occurred whenever the men got two or three months ahead in their savings. During the strike, of course, they spent all that they had saved, and would often return to work in debt at the same wages, or would move to another mine at considerable expense. In either case, my observations convinced me that the miners were worse off at the end of a strike. Before the days of strikes in that section of the country, I knew miners who had considerable money in the bank, but as soon as the professional labor agitators got control, the savings of even the more thrifty ones began disappearing.
  • Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery (1901), Chapter 4: Helping Others

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