Monday, September 3, 2007

Labor Day, 2007

When George Pullman invented the Pullman sleeping cars for the railroad back in the 1850’s not only did he build a name for himself, but he also he built an entire town.

If you happened to live in Pullman, Illinois in the1880’s you lived and worked for George Pullman. If you worked for George Pullman, you lived in a George Pullman row house and you probably went to a Pullman Church and did your shopping locally at a Pullman market.

All was cozy for a little while, but eventually the recession hit and he laid off a large percentage of his workforce and reduced the wages of the remaining employees. I thought that automated deductions from paychecks were something from perhaps the last fifty years or so, but he was doing it way back in the 1880’s. If you worked for him, your rent was taken out of your check before you ever saw it. With the high rent and low pay this didn’t sit so well and his employees began walking out.

When Pullman workers joined American Railroad Union thus beginning strikes and boycotts, President Grover Cleveland called the strike a crime and deployed the Army to break the dispute. When the strike was officially declared over the employees promised not to unionize again and this remained true until the great depression.

"The day for which the toilers in past centuries looked forward, when their rights and their wrongs would be discussed...that the workers of our day may not only lay down their tools of labor for a holiday, but upon which they may touch shoulders in marching phalanx and feel the stronger for it." ~ Samuel Gompers, head of the American Federation of Labor 1898

A small yet important bit of history on this Labor Day, 2007

1 comment:

Mike said...

I need to get you PW for this site so I can edit out the code still. lol, good write.