The Pullman Strike of 1894

Labor and Management strike a deal (1947)

Mustang Staff

In 1893 the Pullman Palace Car Company reduced the wages of its workers by 25 percent, while keeping living expenses the same in the workplace community. A delegation of workers protested the wage reduction as well as 16-hour workdays and they were fired by company president George Pullman as a result. The workers voted to strike and walk off the job. The Pullman workers were supported by the American Railway Union, and 100,000 railroad workers walked off their jobs grinding the rail lines to a halt. Farmers worried about shipping their crops and also impacted was mail delivery and the price of goods.

ARU president, Eugene Debs, encouraged the workers to protest peacefully, but some protestors set fire to buildings and derailed a train that was attached to a U.S. mail train. Later up to 250,000 workers in 27 states had gone on strike and riots were rampant across the country. After a federal injunction was issued to break the strike, President Grover Cleveland sent troops to Chicago to support state militia to keep the trains moving. The workers clashed with the federal and state troops resulting in the deaths of up to 30 people. After almost a month of protest and unrest, the Pullman Company reopened and agreed to rehire the striking workers, if they promised to never join a union. (via Encyclopedia Britannica and the National Park Service)

The following year, Congress passed a bill recognizing the first Monday of September as Labor Day, an official federal holiday. President Cleveland signed the bill into law.

Provided by The Union Advocate (1997) (Richard Sayre)