Newstalgia Reference Room an address by Samuel Gompers, founder of The American Federation Of Labor, speaking in 1918 on Labor's contribution to the War effort (World War 1).
February 25, 2011

Samuel Gompers - thank this guy when you talk about decent wages, safe working conditions and child labor laws .

With the amount of propaganda directed towards Labor and the divisive campaign afoot to banish unions from the workplace, it's good to remember that unions came about for a reason - those little things called compassion, fairness. quality of life and democracy. The reason many of you have jobs at fair and decent wages is because somebody thought if all of you spoke as one, it was better than if you were alone and on your own, begging for a living and taking whatever was offered.

Granted, not all businesses are unfair, not all businesses exploit workers, not all businesses subject employees to bad working conditions. But some do and some still do. And those are the ones for whom the Labor Movement exists.

One of the key figures of the modern American Labor Movement was Samuel Gompers whose American Federation of Labor worked to promote harmony among the different unions at the time and to establish the concept of collective bargaining in order to insure shorter working hours, higher wages and better working conditions. He was president of the AF of L from 1886-1894 and resumed from 1895 until his death in 1924.

Here is a clip of him speaking with regards to our war effort in 1918, where labor was heavily relied on to supply arms and supplies to the military.

So while we're watching the situation in Wisconsin, have a listen to the guy who got the modern labor movement rolling.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.