I'm Phoebe Zimmerman.
And I'm Steve Ember with the VOA Special English Program, People in America. Today we tell about one of the country's greatest labor leaders, Samuel Gompers.
Samuel Gompers was born in London, England in eighteen fifty. His parents were poor people who had moved to England from the Netherlands to seek a better life. Sam was a very good student. However, when he was ten years old, he was forced to quit school and go to work to help feed the family. He was the oldest of five sons. Like his father, Sam became a tobacco cigar maker. He liked the cigar-making industry because it had a group of members.
During meetings, workers could talk about their problems. This is where young Sam began to develop an interest in labor issues. But life was difficult for the Gompers family in London, even with both Sam and his father working. They soon decided to move to the United States to again try to make a better life for themselves.
In eighteen sixty-three, the Gompers family got on a ship and sailed across the Atlantic Ocean. Seven weeks later, the ship arrived in New York City. The Gompers settled in a poor part of New York where many immigrants lived. Sam soon learned that life in America was not easy. At that time, most people worked many hours each day for little money. They worked making goods in factories. Often these factories had poor working conditions. New York was known for these so-called "sweatshops." Whole families, including young children, worked fourteen hours a day in sweatshops for just enough money to stay alive. Sam hated the sweatshops and refused to work there. Instead, he and his father became cigar makers again. Soon Sam joined the Cigarmakers International Union. In those days, labor unions were not strong or permanent. They did little to help workers in their struggle for better working conditions and a better life. Sam believed this needed to change.
Sam Gompers was married at the age of seventeen. He became a father one year later. He earned a living making cigars in shops around New York City. Employers recognized him as a skilled and valuable worker. The men he worked with recognized him as an effective labor activist. Sam also became a student of socialism. In eighteen seventy-three, he started working for an old German socialist, David Hirsch. Most of Mister Hirsch's workers were also socialists from Germany. These men became Samuel Gompers' teachers. They taught him much about trade unions. One teacher was Karl Laurrell, who had been the leader in Europe of the International Workingman's Association. Mister Laurrell taught Sam Gompers what labor unity meant. He also taught him about "collective bargaining." This is how representatives of labor groups meet with the people they work for and negotiate an agreement. For example, labor and management might negotiate for more money, fewer hours and cleaner working places for workers. In time, Samuel Gompers used his knowledge of labor issues to help cigar makers throughout New York form a single, representative union. It was called the Cigarmakers' Local Number One Hundred Forty-Four. Each cigar shop in New York had its own small union that elected a representative to sit on the council of a larger union.
In eighteen seventy-five, this council elected Mister Gompers as president of Cigarmakers' Local Number One Hundred Forty-Four. The union's constitution was like the constitution of a democratic government. All people in the union had a representative voice. Experts say the organizing of Cigarmakers' Local Number One Hundred Forty-Four was the beginning of the American labor movement. Sam Gompers believed that one day all working men and women could belong to organized trade unions. He believed workers should not be forced to sell their labor at too low a price. He also believed each person must have the power to improve his or her own life.
A person can get this power by joining with others in a union. He believed a democratic trade union can speak and act for all its workers. This is the same way a democratic government speaks for the people because voters elect officials to represent them. Labor organizations began to grow stronger in America during the late nineteenth century. At the same time, Sam Gompers started to speak of new ideas. He dreamed of bringing all trade unions together into one big, nation-wide organization that could speak with one voice for workers throughout the country.
In eighteen eighty-one, Mister Gompers was sent as the delegate of the cigar makers union to a conference of unions. The delegates agreed to organize an alliance called the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions of the United States and Canada. The alliance held yearly meeting of national union and local labor councils. It was designed to educate the public on worker issues, prepare labor-related legislation, and pressure Congress to approve such bills. Sam Gompers was an officer in the alliance for five years. During that time, he worked for several measures to improve the lives of workers and children. These included proposals to reduce the work day to eight hours, limit child labor and require children to attend school. He soon learned, however, that the alliance of unions had neither the money nor the power to do much more than talk about these issues. So, in eighteen eighty-six, Sam Gompers helped organize a new union for all labor unions. It was called the American Federation of Labor. Sam Gompers was elected president of the American Federation of Labor in eighteen eighty-six. He held that position, except for one year, for thirty-eight years until he died. In eighteen ninety, the A.F.L. represented two hundred fifty thousand workers. Two years later, the number had grown to more than one million workers.
Under his leadership, the A.F.L. grew from a few struggling labor unions to become the major organization within the labor movement in the United States. As leader of the A.F.L. Mister Gompers had enemies both within and outside the labor movement. Some opponents believed Mister Gompers was more interested in personal power than in improving the rights of workers. They believed his ideas about strikes and collective bargaining could not stop big business. They believed the American Federation of Labor was a conservative organization designed to serve skilled workers only. Other opponents considered Sam Gompers a foreign-born troublemaker who wanted to destroy property rights. At the same time, opponents in industry and business feared that the labor leader was demanding too much for workers. They said his talk violated the law, and that he excited workers and urged them to strike.
Sam Gompers was not troubled by any of these attacks. He argued that because there was freedom of speech in America, he would not be afraid to speak freely. He said that no one hated strikes more than he did because workers suffered the most in a strike. However, he said that in a democracy, strikes were necessary. After a strike, he said, businessmen and workers understood each other better and this was good for the nation. He said: "I hope the day will never come when the workers surrender their right to strike." Sam Gompers also had an interest in international labor issues. At the end of World War One, he attended the Versailles Treaty negotiations. He was helpful in creating the International Labor Organization under the League of Nations. He also supported trade unionism in Mexico. Samuel Gompers died in nineteen twenty-four. He is remembered as "the grand old man of labor."
He worked during his whole life for one cause – improving the rights of workers. He led the fight for shorter working hours, higher pay, safe and clean working conditions and democracy in the workplace. In nineteen fifty-five, the American Federation of Labor joined with the Congress of Industrial Organization to form the A.F.L.-C.I.O. This organization has become an influential part of American economic and political life. It has also helped improve the lives of millions of American workers.
He didn't quit though his salary was a little lower than that of others.
2.develop an interest in 培养……方面的兴趣
You should develop an interest in English.
3.struggle for 为...奋斗
His every decision and act impinge directly upon his struggle for physical survival.
4.earn a living 谋生
He had to work all day and every day to earn a living.
5.They believed the American Federation of Labor was a conservative organization designed to serve skilled workers only.
designed to 旨在于
Or in an emergency you might be forced to sell it.
6.I hope the day will never come when the workers surrender their right to strike.
Most importantly, don’t surrender to them.
我是史蒂夫·恩贝尔。这里是VOA慢速英语栏目《美国人物志》 。今天我们将讲述美国工人党最伟大领袖之一，塞缪尔·龚帕斯的故事 。
1850年，塞缪尔·龚帕斯出生于英国伦敦。他的父母都很贫穷 。为了寻求更好的生活，他们从荷兰搬到了英国 。塞缪尔是一个很好的学生 。但在他十岁的时候，他被迫辍学工作养家 。
他是五个儿子中最年长的。和他父亲一样，他成为了一名雪茄烟叶工人 。他喜欢雪茄制造业，因为有团体 。会议期间，工人们能够谈论他们的问题 。正是在这里年轻的塞缪尔开始对工人问题产生兴趣 。但是即使塞缪尔和父亲都在工作，要维系一家人在伦敦的生活还是很困难 。
很快他们便决定搬到美国，再次寻求好的生活。1863年，龚帕斯一家登上了船横渡大西洋 。七周后，船只抵达纽约城 。龚帕斯一家在纽约一个贫穷的移民聚集地定居 。很快塞缪尔就意识到在美国谋生也不容易 。那时，多数人每天工作很多个小时，薪水却很少 。他们在工厂里制作商品 。通常这些工厂的工作条件都很差 。纽约是知名的“血汗工厂” 。整个家庭，包括小孩在内，每天都在血汗工厂里工作14个小时，薪酬也只够维持生存 。塞缪尔痛恨血汗工厂并拒绝在那里工作 。他和他的父亲反而又再次成为雪茄工人 。很快塞缪尔加入了雪茄工人国际工会 。那时，工会还不够强大 。
在争取更好的工作条件和更好的生活方面，他们能为工人做的很少。塞缪尔相信这一点需要改变 。塞缪尔·龚帕斯在17岁就结婚了 。一年后，他当了父亲 。他在纽约市工厂里靠制作雪茄为生 。雇主认为他是一名有技术和价值的工人 。和他一起工作的人认为他是一名劳工活跃分子 。塞缪尔还成为了一名社会主义学生 。1873年，他开始为一名德国老社会主义者戴维·赫希工作 。赫希先生的多数共事者也都是来自德国的社会主义者 。这些人成为了塞缪尔·龚帕斯的老师 。他们教给了他很多关于工会的知识 。其中一名老师是卡尔·劳雷尔，他是欧洲国际工人协会的领导人 。劳雷尔先生教授了塞缪尔·龚帕斯工会的意义，还教他“集体谈判” 。这是指工人代表和雇主会面进行谈判 。例如，工人和管理层会为了给工人们争取更多前、更少工作时间以及更干净的工作环境而谈判 。
塞缪尔·龚帕斯利用他对工人问题的知识帮助纽约的那些来自单独典型工会的雪茄工人。该工会被称为当地雪茄工144号 。纽约的雪茄商店都有属于自己的小工会，每个小工会选一名代表入座更大的工会理事会 。1875年，这个理事会选举龚帕斯先生成为该工会的董事 。工会宪法和民主政府宪法相似 。工会中的所有人都由一名代表发声 。
专家表示该组织的建立时美国工人运动的开端。塞缪尔·龚帕斯相信终有一天所有工人阶级，不论男女都会属于有组织的工会 。他认为工人们不应该被迫低价出售自己的劳力 。他还认为每个人必须有权改善自己的生活 。人们可以加入工会获取这种权力 。他相信民主工会可以为所有工人发声并有所作为 。民主政府也是用同样的方式为人们发声，因为选民选举官员代表自己 。
十九世纪晚期，工人组织开始在美国发展壮大。同时，塞缪尔·龚帕斯开始谈起了一些新想法 。他希望将所有工会聚集成一个大的国家范围内组织，可以为统一为国家工人发声 。1881年，龚帕斯先生作为雪茄工协会代表被派去参加工会会议 。代表们统一组成一个有组织行业联合会、美国和加拿大工会同盟 。同盟每年举行国家工会和本地工人理事会会议 。其目的在于教育公众有关工人的问题，准备工人相关的立法以及为法案想国会施加压力 。塞缪尔·龚帕斯在同盟中工作了5年 。在那段期间，他提出不少方法改善工人和孩子的生活 。其中包括将工作时长减少至8小时，限制童工并要求孩子们去上学的提案 。但很快他就了解到工会同盟没权也没钱，无法解决这些问题 。所以1886年，塞缪尔·龚帕斯为所有工会组织了一个新协会—美国劳工联合会 。
1886年，塞缪尔·龚帕斯被选为美国劳工联合会董事。除了一年之外，38年来他一直担任次职，直至去世 。1890年，A.F.L.有二十五万名工人 。两年后，该数字增加至一百多万名 。在他的领导下，A.F.L.从一个努力奋斗中的工会成长为美国工人运动中的主要组织 。作为A.F.L.的领袖，龚帕斯先生在工人运动内外都有敌人 。一些反对者认为龚帕斯先生对个人权利更感兴趣而不是改善工人权利 。他们认为他关于罢工和集体谈判的想法无法阻止这些大企业 。他们认为美国劳工联合会是一个仅为技术工人服务的保守组织 。其他反对者认为塞缪尔·龚帕斯是一名出生在国外的麻烦制造者，他想摧毁财产权 。同时，行业和商业反对者担心工人领袖为工人要求的太多了 。他们说他的说法违反了法律并且他怂恿工人们进行罢工 。
塞缪尔·龚帕斯并没有受这些攻击的困扰。他争辩道，因为在美国言论是自由的，他不害怕自由言论 。他说没人比他更憎恨罢工，因为工人们在罢工中所遭遇的更多 。但是他说在民主政权中，罢工是必须的 。罢工后，他说，商人和工人能更好的了解彼此，这对国家来说是好事 。他说：“我希望工人们向罢工投降的那一天永远不会到来 。塞缪尔·龚帕斯对国际工人问题也感兴趣 。一战后，他加入凡尔赛条约谈判 。在国际联盟下，他在创建国际劳工组织中提供了帮助 。他还支持墨西哥工联主义 。
塞缪尔·龚帕斯死于1924年。作为“工人元老级前辈”而被人铭记 。他一生的工作只为一个目标—改善工人权利 。他领导斗争，为工人争取更多的工作时间、更高的薪酬、更安全干净的工作环境以及民主 。1955年，美国劳工联合会联合产业工会联合会组成A.F.L.-C.I.O. 这个组织成为美国经历和政治生活有影响力的一部分，也帮助改善了美国百万工人的生活 。