Working class in the United States
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Quotes about the working class in the United States.
- Almost half of America's workers—whether in Appalachia or Alabama, California or Carolina—work for less than a living wage.
- While the virus itself does not discriminate, it is the poor and disenfranchised who will experience the most suffering and death. They’re the ones who are least likely to have health care or paid sick leave, and the most likely to lose work hours.
- No one mentioned Communism or the Hiss Case until we sat over our coffee in the living room. Mrs. Philip Jessup had just used her personal good offices to try to get me off TIME. Luce was baffled by the implacable clamor of the most enlightened people against me. "By any Marxian pattern of how classes behave," he said, "the upper class should be for you and the lower classes should be against you. But it is the upper class that is most violent against you. How do you explain that?" "You don't understand the class structure of American society," said Smetana, "or you would not ask such a question. In the United States, the working class are Democrats. The middle class are Republicans. The upper class are Communists."
- Whittaker Chambers, Witness (1952), p. 212
- We Mexicans here in the United States, as well as all other farm workers, are engaged in another struggle for the freedom and dignity which poverty denies us. But it must not be a violent struggle, even if violence is used against us.
- Cesar Chavez in Delano, California (16 September 1965) as quoted in Delano: the story of the California Grape Strike (1967) by John Gregory Dunne
- We seek the support of all political groups and protection of the government, which is also our government, in our struggle. For too many years we have been treated like the lowest of the low. Our wages and working conditions have been determined from above, because irresponsible legislators who could have helped us, have supported the rancher's argument that the plight of the Farm Worker was a "special case." They saw the obvious effects of an unjust system, starvation wages, contractors, day hauls, forced migration, sickness, illiteracy, camps and sub-human living conditions, and acted as if they were irremediable causes. The farm worker has been abandoned to his own fate — without representation, without power — subject to mercy and caprice of the rancher. We are tired of words, of betrayals, of indifference. To the politicians we say that the years are gone when the farm worker said nothing and did nothing to help himself. From this movement shall spring leaders who shall understand us, lead us, be faithful to us, and we shall elect them to represent us. We shall be heard.
- The ranchers want to keep us divided in order to keep us weak. Many of us have signed individual "work contracts" with the ranchers or contractors, contracts in which they had all power. These contracts were farces, one more cynical joke at our impotence. [...] 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.
- Across the San Joaquin Valley, across California, across the entire Southwest of the United States, wherever there are Mexican people, wherever there are farm workers, our movement is spreading like flames across ad dry plain. Our pilgrimage is the match that will light our cause for all farm workers to see what is happening here, so that they may do as we have done. The time has come for the liberation of the poor farm worker.
History is on our side. May the strike go on! Viva la causa!
- A similar statement (perhaps used in a later declaration) has been quoted at the UFW site: "Across the San Joaquin valley, across California, across the entire nation, wherever there are injustices against men and women and children who work in the fields — there you will see our flags — with the black eagle with the white and red background, flying. Our movement is spreading like flames across a dry plain."
- Cesar Chavez, Full text online The Plan of Delano (1965)
- Today, thousands of farm workers live under savage conditions — beneath trees and amid garbage and human excrement — near tomato fields in San Diego County, tomato fields which use the most modern farm technology.
Vicious rats gnaw on them as they sleep. They walk miles to buy food at inflated prices. And they carry in water from irrigation pumps.
- All my life, I have been driven by one dream, one goal, one vision: to overthrow a farm labor system in this nation that treats farm workers as if they were not important human beings. Farm workers are not agricultural implements; they are not beasts of burden to be used and discarded. That dream was born in my youth, it was nurtured in my early days of organizing. It has flourished. It has been attacked.
- I'm not very different from anyone else who has ever tried to accomplish something with his life. My motivation comes from my personal life, from watching what my mother and father went through when I was growing up, from what we experienced as migrant workers in California. That dream, that vision grew from my own experience with racism, with hope, with a desire to be treated fairly, and to see my people treated as human beings and not as chattel. It grew from anger and rage, emotions I felt 40 years ago when people of my color were denied the right to see a movie or eat at a restaurant in many parts of California. It grew from the frustration and humiliation I felt as a boy who couldn't understand how the growers could abuse and exploit farm workers when there were so many of us and so few of them.
- I've traveled through every part of this nation. I have met and spoken with thousands of Hispanics from every walk of life, from every social and economic class. And one thing I hear most often from Hispanics, regardless of age or position, and from many non-Hispanics as well, is that the farm workers gave them the hope that they could succeed and the inspiration to work for change.
- My friends, the time for action is upon us. The enemies of justice wants you to think of Dr. King as only a civil rights leader, but he had a much broader agenda. He was a tireless crusader for the rights of the poor, for an end to the war in Vietnam long before it was popular to take that stand, and for the rights of workers everywhere.
Many people find it convenient to forget that Martin was murdered while supporting a desperate strike on that tragic day in Memphis, Tennessee. He died while fighting for the rights of sanitation workers.
Dr. King's dedication to the rights of the workers who are so often exploited by the forces of greed has profoundly touched my life and guided my struggle.
- What the workingmen of the country are profoundly interested in is the private ownership of the means of production and distribution, the enslaving and degrading wage-system in which they toil for a pittance at the pleasure of their masters and are bludgeoned, jailed or shot when they protest — this is the central, controlling, vital issue of the hour, and neither of the old party platforms has a word or even a hint about it.
As a rule, large capitalists are Republicans and small capitalists are Democrats, but workingmen must remember that they are all capitalists, and that the many small ones, like the fewer large ones, are all politically supporting their class interests, and this is always and everywhere the capitalist class.
- Strength of the U.S. economy is the country's edge in human capital, the productivity, innovation, and entrepreneurship of its workers. The United States remains the top destination for smart, skilled, and creative individuals even as the global competition for such workers intensifies.
- To me, you know, to answer your question, the definition of Democratic Socialism, to me, again, is the fact that in a modern, moral and wealthy society, no American should be too poor to live. And to me that means every working class American in this country should have access to dignified health care, should actually be able to go see a doctor without going broke. It means you should be able to send your kids to college and trade school if they so choose. And no person should feel precarious or unstable in their access to housing as our economy develops.
- The labor movement has long been struggling in the U.S., as fewer workers join unions and as high-profile organizing drives, like a June attempt to unionize Volkswagen employees in Tennessee, fall short. But American workers, feeling left behind as the economy grows around them, are joining together to demand a bigger slice of the pie. On Sept. 16, 50,000 General Motors workers walked off the job in their first strike since 2007, protesting idled plants and low wages. Nearly 8,000 Marriott workers went on strike in eight cities last year, while 31,000 supermarket employees in the Northeast did the same in early 2019. In the past year, tens of thousands of teachers walked out of their classrooms to demand better pay and funding. In all, nearly half a million workers participated in strikes and work stoppages last year, the most since 1986. The labor disruptions show no sign of abating.
- The recent labor unrest is in part fueled by uneven economic growth. While companies are prospering and the stock market hovers near all-time highs, the benefits haven’t been felt by many workers, who are often stuck in temporary jobs with no benefits. Paradoxically, the strong economy also emboldens workers. [...] When more jobs are available and unemployment is low, people feel more confident in demanding better pay and benefits. [...] Many nonunion workers also want change. Those in the gig economy, many of whom are considered- independent contractors and thus not eligible to unionize or receive benefits, have been demanding higher pay and steadier hours.