The Eleanor Roosevelt and Human Rights Project

Eleanor Roosevelt Labor Quotes

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I have always felt that it was important that everyone who was a worker join a labor organization.
IBEW Strike, 1941

I believe you should tell the story of injustices, of inequalities, of bad conditions, so that the people as a whole in this country really face the problems that people who are pushed to the point of striking know all about, but others know practically nothing about.
CIO Convention, 1943

The unionization of domestic workers will be salutary for both the employer and the employee.
"My Day," 1946

Eleanor Roosevelt explained that the United States delegation considered that the right to form and join trade unions was an essential element of freedom…trade unions had met with much opposition…the struggle was, in fact, still continuing…
UN Summary Document, 1948

You in the unions do not yet represent all of labor. But I hope some day you will, because I believe that it is through strength, through the fact that people who know what people need are working to make this country a better place for all people, that we will help the world to accept our leadership and understand that, under our form of government and through our way of life, we have something to offer them…
ACWA Convention, 1956

I am opposed to ‘right to work’ legislation because it does nothing for working people, but instead gives employers the right to exploit labor.
American Federationist, 1959

The labor movement has a great role to play in our country today.
AFL-CIO Convention, 1961


I think it very valuable that such groups as the American Federation of Labor are taking an active interest in the achievement of human rights throughout the world…and one of the things I hope will evolve from any bill of this kind is the right of people to economic as well as political freedom.
"My Day," 1947

One should never belittle the value of words, however, for they have a way of getting translated into facts, and therein lies the hope for our universal declaration.
"My Day," 1948

Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home…the factory, farm or office where he works…unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.
United Nations Remarks, 1953


One of the most harmful things in our national life is that our voting statistics on election day are so bad…
IUE Convention, 1951

We must really participate. We can’t just talk. We have got to act…And we must see improvement for masses of people, not for the little group on top.
CIO Convention, 1954

Prepare your representatives…In a democracy not only government is responsible but people are responsible for what happens in their own land and through their leadership in the world.
UAW Convention, 1957


We don't get things unless we plan for them, unless we organize for them and work for them, and I think perhaps we have not worked enough on education.
CIO Convention, 1943

This particular phase of adult education [workers’ education] is most important to democracy…in employer and employee relations and in international understanding it will mean a great step toward reasonable and peaceful settlement of many disputes.
"My Day," 1938

We have to realize that it is not our educational system alone that counts, but educational systems in all the countries of the world…Good education costs money; people do not like taxes, and sometimes the political leaders see no connection between education and future prosperity.
National Education Association Convention, 1938


The miners are out of work…Their problem is much more than a mining problem—it concerns the standards of living not only for themselves but in other parts of the world.
White House Press Conference, 1933

That is the only road to peace—an economic program that takes into consideration the world as a whole.
CIO Convention, 1943

World economic cooperation is the first and biggest step…you have to have real labor management committees…concerned with the world picture…
White House Press Conference, 1944


Only where they are organized do women get equal pay for equal work.
White House Press Conference, 1933

If a woman wants to work and keep her home, let me ask you, Mr. Man, to help her and not hold her back.
It’s Up To The Women, 1933

I have a firm belief in the ability and power of women to achieve the things they want to achieve.
Liberty, 1941

As each future conference of the nations meets, women should be among the delegates, no matter what the subject under discussion.
American Federationist, 1944

In numbers there is strength, and we in America must help the women of the world.
"My Day," 1946

The dignity of women’s equality when they meet in government, professional and industrial work is important the world over, not just in the U.S.
"My Day," 1962

Human Rights and Workers' Rights
Home Why ER? Labor Background Article 23, UDHR
Workers' Rights Teaching Aides Quotes You Can Help Us