The Pullman Strike was a national railroad strike based in Chicago, Illinois, however, it was demonstrated all over the country. It pitted the American Railway Union (ARU) against the Pullman Company, the main railroads, and the federal government under President Grover Cleveland. The conflict began in Chicago when nearly 4,000 factory employees of the Pullman Company began a wildcat strike in response to recent reductions in wages. The strike and boycott shut down much of the nation’s freight and passenger traffic west of Detroit, Michigan.
This strike not only pitted Republicans against Democrats and owners vs. workers, it had individuals all over the country speaking out for or against the parties involved. Over the course of the strike and boycott, 30 individuals were killed, many went to prison and names that are well known, such as Clarence Darrow, played an integral part in attempting to protect the labor leaders. This was not a ‘popular’ strike by any stroke of the imagination; this work stoppage was caused by a greedy owner and workers wanting better wages and living conditions. There are many sites on the internet where you can read about the actual strike and its details, e.g. Wikipedia.com or History.com.
Let’s just say it was part of that very ugly period of labor relations between workers and owners in the United States. The federal government and the President were against the strike; not because of the reason for the strike but because the strike, work stoppage and boycott affected the US postal system in the country and the President had an obligation to keep it working effectively.
As a token to all those workers who were forced to return to work by the government, Grover Cleveland declared a day of celebration of the American worker. All of you should applaud yourselves; every benefit that the American worker has today is a result of a struggle made by a group of workers that fought for a better working environment; whether unionized or not.
I awoke this morning thinking of being a small business owner and of those individuals that have worked for me in the past year or are working for me now; I was pleasantly surprised by a phone call from a former employee today who was calling for professional advice. I smiled when I saw her name come through on my cell phone for I thought how appropriate it was that I received a phone call from her on Labor Day!!! I hope you all had a great day!