I am opposed to ‘right to work’ legislation because it does nothing for working people, but instead gives employers the right to exploit labor.
Eleanor Roosevelt quoted in American Federationist, 1959
[U]nion recognition meant the real beginning. Union meant strength, and recognition meant the employer’s acknowledgment of that strength, and the two meant the opportunity to fight again for further gains with united and multiplied power. As contract followed contract, the pay envelope fattened and fringe benefits and job rights grew to the mature work standards of today. All of these started with winning first union recognition.
Speech given to the shop stewards of Local 815, Teamsters, and the Allied Trades Council, New York City, May 2, 1967
“The labor movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress. Out of its bold struggles, economic and social reform gave birth to unemployment insurance, old-age pensions, government relief for the destitute and, above all, new wage levels that meant not mere survival but a tolerable life.
The captains of industry did not lead this transformation; they resisted it until they were overcome. When in the thirties the wave of union organization crested over the nation, it carried to secure shores not only itself but the whole society.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr. Speech to the state convention of the Illinois AFL-CIO, Oct. 7, 1965
“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 today attack labor forget these simple truths, but history remembers them.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr. Address at the AFL-CIO Fourth Constitutional Convention, December 11, 1961
“In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights. It is supported by Southern segregationists who are trying to keep us from achieving our civil rights and our right of equal job opportunity. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone.Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped. Our weapon is our vote.”
Martin Luther King Jr. speaking on right-to-work laws in 1961.