For this weekend’s progressive reading list we have speeches from some of the most important leaders in the history of the Labor Movement.

samuel gompers labor day

What Does Labor Want? – Samuel Gompers 1893 speech explaining why the Labor Movement is needed and detailing the advances that labor was seeking to achieve to make life better for workers and society as a whole.

Address by Cesar Chavez – In a 1989 speech, the President of the United Farm Workers addressed the plight of farm workers in the US, and explained how the UFW was about fighting not only for workers’ rights, but also against racism and environmental harms that were (and are) far too often inflicted on farm workers and their families.

Remarks of Walter P. Reuther – the United Auto Workers President spoke at the 1963 March on Washington about the connection between civil rights and labor rights.

Lecture by Frances Perkins – the U.S. Secretary of Labor during the Franklin D. Roosevelt Administration reflected on the 1911 Triangle Factory Fire that killed 146 workers and led to a significant movement in support of strengthened workplace safety regulations.

Speech to Striking Coal Miners – Mother Jones’ 1912 speech to coal miners who were on strike in West Virginia.