Happy Labor Day again, you Socialist sons of bitches!

    I know it’s probably cheating, but here’s something that I wrote a couple of years ago on the occasion of Labor Day. If anything, I think it’s even more appropriate today.

    pullmantownstrike
    As some of you probably know, Labor Day was first celebrated here in the United States in 1882. It wasn’t, however, made a national holiday until 1894, in the wake of a bloody strike by employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company, an Illinois-based manufacturer of luxury rail cars. It all began when the company, after having cut the wages of workers across the board by as much as 25%, refused to reduce the rent charged to these same workers, who lived and worked in the company town of Pullman, Illinois. And, from there, the strike spread throughout the railroad industry… The following extended clip comes from the Kansas Heritage Group:

    …The strike went peacefully, but after several weeks the Pullman management had not changed its position and the strikers were desperate for aid. During the strike, the American Railway Union had convened in Chicago because it was the rail center of the United States. The recently formed American Railway Union had 465 local unions and claimed the memberships of 150,000 workers. Since, the Pullman workers were an affiliated union on strike in Chicago the ARU offered to send arbitrators for the Pullman cause. The Pullman workers refused this aid, even so the ARU under the leadership of Eugene Debs decided to stop handling Pullman cars on June 26 if the Pullman Union would not agree to arbitration. The stage was set for the largest strike in the nation’s history.

    On June 26, the ARU switchmen started to refuse to switch trains with Pullman cars. In response, the General Managers Association began to fire the switchmen for not handling the cars. The strike and boycott rapidly expanded, paralyzing the Chicago rail yards and most of the twenty-four rail lines in the city.

    On July 2 a federal injunction was issued against the leaders of the ARU. This Omnibus Indictment prevented ARU leaders from “…compelling or inducing by threats, intimidation, persuasion, force or violence, railway employees to refuse or fail to perform duties…” This injunction was based on the Sherman anti-trust act and the Interstate commerce act and was issued by federal judges Peter S. Grosscup and William A. Woods under the direction of, Attorney General, Richard Olney. The injunction prevented the ARU leadership from communicating with their subordinates and chaos began to reign.

    Governor Altgeld of Illinois had been hesitant to employ the state militia to put down the strike instead relying on the local authorities to handle the situation. However, he said he would use the National Guard to protect property. Above all Governor Altgeld did not want federal troops to intervene. However, the issuing of this federal injunction and the fact that mail-trains might be delayed caused President Grover Cleveland to send in federal troops from Fort Sheridan. On July 3, Federal troops entered Chicago against Governor Altgeld’s repeated protests. Governor Altgeld protested by writing President Cleveland on July 5, saying, “…surely the facts have not been correctly presented to you in this case, or you would not have taken the step, for it seems to me, unjustifiable. Waiving all questions of courtesy I will say that the State of Illinois is not only able to take care of itself, but it stands ready to furnish the Federal Government any assistance it may need else where…” Despite these repeated protests by Governor Altgeld, President Cleveland continued to send in federal troops.

    The reaction of the strikers to the appearance of the troops was that of outrage. What had been a basically peaceful strike turned into complete mayhem. The mayhem began on July 4, with mobs of people setting off fireworks and tipping over rail cars. The workers started to tip railcars and build blockades in reaction to the presence of the federal troops. In addition to this, there was additional level of chaos caused by the ARU leaders’ inability to communicate with the strikers because of the federal indictments. The rioting grew and spread then on July 7, a large fire consumed seven buildings at the World’s Colombian Exposition in Jackson Park. This burning and rioting came to a zenith on July 6, when fires caused by some 6,000 rioters destroyed 700 railcars and caused $340,000 of damages in the South Chicago Panhandle yards.

    At this time in the Chicago vicinity, there were 6,000 federal and state troops, 3,100 police, and 5,000 deputy marshals. However, all this manpower could not prevent the violence from peaking when on July 7, national guardsmen after being assaulted, fired into the crowd killing at least four (possibly up to thirty) and wounding at least twenty. The killing continued when two more people were killed by troops in Spring Valley, Illinois. All this violence started to cause the strike to ebb and on that same day Eugene Debs and four other ARU leaders were arrested for violating the indictment. These officers were later realized on $10,000 bond. The strike was failing rapidly, so the ARU tried to enlist the aid of the AFL in the form of sympathetic strikes. When this was refused the ARU attempted to abandon the strike, on the grounds that workers would be rehired without prejudice except were convicted of crimes however, this offer was refused by the General Managers’ Association. The strike continued to dwindle, and trains began to move with increased frequency. The strike became untenable for the workers and on August 2 the Pullman works reopened.

    This strike was truly monumental if some of the figures for lost revenues are looked at. The railroads alone lost an estimated $685,308 in expenses incurred during the strike. However, the railroads lost even more in revenue an estimated $4,672,916. In addition, 100,000 striking employees lost wages of an estimated $1,389,143. These costs are just the localized effects of the paralyzation of the nation’s rail center and do not include the far ranging financial effects. The manpower used to break the strike was also immense. The total forces of the strikebreakers both government and private were: 1,936 federal troops, 4,000 national guardsmen, about 5,000 extra deputy marshals, 250 extra deputy sheriffs, and the 3,000 policemen in Chicago for a total of 14,186 strikebreakers. In addition to these figures there were also twelve people shot and killed, and 71 people who were arrested and sentenced on the federal indictment. This strike had other far ranging consequences. The federal government took an unprecedented step in using indictments to make any form of a strike essentially illegal and supported this action by deploying federal troops against the will of the states.

    The results of the Pullman Strike were both enormous and inconsequential. They were enormous because the strike showed the power of unified national unions. At the same time the strike showed the willingness of the federal government to intervene and support the capitalists against unified labor. The results were inconsequential because for all of the unified effort of the unions the workers did not get their rents lowered.

    chicagopullmanstrikeSo, several men in Chicago lost their lives, labor had been struck a tremendous blow, and President Grover Cleveland, fearing an even greater worker revolt, pushed the national holiday through Congress in order to appease the masses. And, now, we celebrate the day by grilling out and taking one last dip in the pool.

    Here’s to all the men and women who died so that we might enjoy the 40 hour work week, safe working conditions, and all the rest of it… Let’s enjoy the fruits of their labor while we can, because God knows we’ll see kids working in coal mines again in our lifetimes. To do otherwise, after all, would be Socialism.

    update: A link to the following graph was just left in the comments section. I thought that it deserved to be up here, where it had a greater likelihood of catching your attention.

    This entry was posted in Corporate Crime, Economics, History, Other and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

      31 Comments

      1. Demetrius
        Posted September 5, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

        Mark, I think you forgot the last part of the story:

        … but, sadly, within just a few generations, workers began taking for granted all the hard-won gains for which their ancestors had fought and died, as once noble concepts such as “class consciousness,” “organized labor” and “solidarity” began to be openly mocked in polite society. Meanwhile, many ordinary workers (including some among the very poor) began to identify more with lavish lifestyles of their corporate overlords, rather than with their more modest working neighbors, ushering in a new “gilded age” of record profits for the richest 1% –contrasted with falling wages, benefits and working conditions for everyone else, and hastening a general decline of American culture and society.

        The end.

      2. Posted September 5, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

        Well said, Demetrius.

        I think it’s particularly important this Labor Day to remember the history, as, in a few days, we’ll likely be hearing more from Eric Cantor about his plans to further deregulate industry in hopes of creating jobs. We need to remain vigilant and be prepared to fight them as they attempt to roll back child labor laws, kill the minimum wage and rewrite environmental and workplace safety legislations, under the auspices of trying to revive our faltering economy and create jobs.

      3. Redleg
        Posted September 5, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

        Years ago I purchased one of those Polish-styled solidarity flags and I flew it each and every Labor day. At least that’s what I used to do. It was maybe four years ago that I put out my solidarity themed flag again around Labor day, and after returning from a trip “up north” found my flag trampled in the shrubs, with the word “fag” crudely spray-painted over it. WTF? Never mind the fact that I’m not a gay person, and as far as I know, never been construed to be, but I’ve always wondered if someone really did mistake the meaning of the Solidarity flag with the meaning of say, the modern Rainbow flag. Yet knowing the state of education around here, I wouldn’t be all that surprised if that was the case, for it dovetails nicely with the start of tea-baggery….. “You damned socialists– Keep your hands off my social security!” Or the like.

      4. Kim
        Posted September 5, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

        This thread is depressing me. Can someone please share a potato salad recipe, or talk about how drunk they got today?

      5. Demetrius
        Posted September 5, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

        http://thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/unionincome.jpg

      6. Posted September 5, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

        OK, Demetrius, that’s going to the front page. Thanks!

      7. Posted September 5, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

        Kim, I prefer mayonnaise based potato salads (as opposed to vinegar ones). I would just boil the potatoes, chop the onions, celery, red pepper, throw in some chopped up hard boiled eggs and then the mayo…maybe some mustard, too?

      8. Meta
        Posted September 5, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

        Something else for you, Kim.

        Andrew WK’s Top Ten Labour Day Weekend Tips!

        http://www.aux.tv/2011/09/andrew-wks-10-best-party-tips-for-the-labour-day-weekend/

      9. Meta
        Posted September 5, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

        Now for the seriously depressing stuff. (Check out the graphs.)

        http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/04/opinion/sunday/jobs-will-follow-a-strengthening-of-the-middle-class.html?_r=1&1=1

      10. Posted September 5, 2011 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

        For those of us who don’t like mayonnaise, you can make a nice dressing from yogurt, mustard, salt, and pepper. It’s like the creme fraiche and mustard the French use for celery root, but tangier and lighter. I like parsnips in there too.

      11. Edward
        Posted September 6, 2011 at 10:07 am | Permalink

        I’m a PBR man, but I was just reading about the rich guy and his two douche bag sons that bought the company. I found it incredibly depressing, and now I’m looking for a new beer. I like Oberon OK, but I’m looking for something less expensive. PBR is just $5 a six-pack at my corner store. I’ve tried Milwaukee’s Best and it just sucks.

      12. Eel
        Posted September 6, 2011 at 10:32 am | Permalink

        This post is so stupid. You should be writing about Maryland’s awful new football uniforms, like everyone else! Pay attention to what really matters, man!

      13. Union Man
        Posted September 6, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

        As a member of two labor unions (two jobs meeting ends), I was proud of Hoffa’s call to “take these son-of-a-bitches out” (referring to Tea Partiers). As a Detroiter, I’m damn proud he said it here.

        It’s time to remind America that the hard working, gritty to the edge of nasty patriots who keep this country running aren’t found in corporate offices or among unskilled idiot blabberers. The heart of the Democratic Party isn’t weak kneed academia. It’s the real American worker. It’s Labor!

      14. ChelseaL
        Posted September 7, 2011 at 11:38 am | Permalink

        True. I was always shocked by how little value people seem to place on unions.

        Remember that, in hard times, employees will be glad to have jobs. They’ll have to be pushed awfully hard to rebel.

        Then, again, not every union has a choice about dissolving. It’s well known in Boston that WGBH’s union has been more-or-less busted to a shell.

      15. TaterSalad
        Posted September 8, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

        The Party of Food Stamps, better known these days as the Democratic Party wants you to take a survey. Food Stamps. Take the food stamp question-air/survey and let your voice/opinion be heard.

        http://www.theblaze.com/stories/should-food-stamps-be-accepted-in-restaurants/

      16. TaterSalad
        Posted September 8, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

        Public Sector Unions to the American Taxpayers:

        “Sorry you have to pay out of your own wages each week for your own
        retirement (401k), but brother, could you dig a little deeper in your wallet and
        keep funding my pension also. I have a second home that needs some work done on
        it before I retire at 55 years of age!” Keep up the good fight and support
        your local Public Union Worker…..and his benefits!

        How can a Union member get his Union dues refund?

        http://www.unionrefund.org/

        Right to Work states statistics:
        http://www.nrtw.org/en/blog/wall-street-journal-more-states-consider-02032111

        http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/33760

        http://therealrevo.com/blog/?p=52954

        United States Postal Service – Broke:
        http://weaselzippers.us/2011/09/07/unions-claim-another-victim-post-office-on-verge-of-default-thanks-to-no-layoff-provision-in-union-contracts/

      17. TaterSalad
        Posted September 8, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

        For the truth:

        http://www.LaborUnionReport.com

        Have the truth in hand when spouting off the facts.

      18. Bob
        Posted September 8, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

        Have your ani-facts, right-wing blog post available to copy and paste. Tater, go fuck yourself.

      19. Demetrius
        Posted September 8, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

        Bob, please don’t be so angry.

        You see, Tater has never actually held a job, so naturally, he’s jealous of anyone who does — ESPECIALLY anyone who has a job with good wages and benefits.

      20. TaterSalad
        Posted September 8, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

        Why the Free Market system is the top dog when it comes to people lives and their future.

        http://www.activistpost.com/2011/04/free-markets-and-socialism-alternative.html

      21. TaterSalad
        Posted September 8, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

        Maybe the simple liberal/progressive mind knd comprehend this. Then again………probably not! It shows anyhow because look at what you voted for and is in the White House while destroying America and playing golf.

        http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/31863

      22. TaterSalad
        Posted September 8, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

        Bob ole’ “boy”……….you’re sounding a bit irritated these days. Maybe it’s the economy or something. Ole’ Tater probably has at one point in time tried to eductate you ……………..but you probably had your head in your ass at that time!

        Traveling down the Road to Serfdom, from Marx to Obama:

        http://newzeal.blogspot.com/2011/01/traveling-down-road-to-serfdom-history.html

      23. kjc
        Posted September 8, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

        Tater, you already established that Bob’s a looser.

      24. TaterSalad
        Posted September 8, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        Bob is having a lonely moment with himself. He’ll get over it in about 30 seconds!

      25. TaterSalad
        Posted September 8, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

        By the way Unionman, as a member of the TeaParty and since your “glad” that Hoffa called them out, take a hike punk! As a Detroiter myself, you are bought and sold by people that live off the dues they collect. Hoffa makes a cool $300,000.00 per year and doesn’t do a damn thing for the Teamsters except to get in front of a podium every 3 months and stoke up the morons like you who wipe his ass!

      26. Bob
        Posted September 8, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

        Tater,
        I think your own use of the term “Ole Tater” says it all about your attitude. In this case, your “Ole Tater” is obviously your dick. Like many Americans, it clearly is underemployed.

      27. TaterSalad
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 11:03 am | Permalink

        Bob…….are you still around. Your a complete loser guy! Get over it. People like you are nothing but mere parasites and find ways to complain just about everthing which is evident. And yes Bob I’ve worked all my life making a very good living. If you need a job, give me a call. I pay great wages!

      28. TaterSalad
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 11:04 am | Permalink

        Here is what the real problem is. People like Bob following this dingbat:

        Sherry Hackett, wife of the late Buddy Hackett, is a dyed-in-the-wool
        Democrat. I would think that many other Democrats share her position…
        This was written by …. Sherry Hackett, Buddy Hackett’s widow

        “WE NOTICED”… President Obama:

        Today I read of your administrations’ plan to re-define September 11 as
        a National Service Day. …. Sir, it’s time we had a talk.

        During your campaign, Americans watched as you made mockery of our
        tradition of standing and crossing your heart when the Pledge of Allegiance
        was spoken. You, out of four people on the stage, were the only one not
        honoring our tradition. …. YES, “We noticed.”

        During one of your many speeches, Americans heard you say that you
        intended to visit all 57 states. We all know that Islam, not America has
        57 states…. YES, “We noticed.”

        When President Bush leaned over at Ground Zero and gently placed a
        flower on the memorial, while you nonchalantly tossed your flower onto
        the pile without leaning over….. YES, “We noticed.”

        Every time you apologized to other countries for America ‘s position on
        an issue we have wondered why you don’t share our pride in this great
        country.. When you have heard foreign leaders berate our country and our

        beliefs, you have not defended us. In fact, you insulted the British Crown
        beyond belief. …. YES, “We noticed.”

        When your pastor of 20 years, “God-damned America ” and said that
        9/11 was ” America ‘s chickens coming home to roost” and you denied
        having heard recriminations of that nature, we wondered how that could
        be. You later disassociated yourself from that church and Pastor Wright
        because it was politically expedient to do so…. YES, “We noticed.”

        When you announced that you would transform America , we wondered
        why. With all her faults, America is the greatest country on earth.
        Sir, KEEP THIS IN MIND, “if not for America and the people who built
        her, you wouldn’t be sitting in the White House now.” Prior to your
        election to the highest office in this Country, you were a senator from
        Illinois and from what we can glean from the records available, not a
        very remarkable one…. YES, “We noticed.”

        All through your campaign and even now, you have surrounded
        yourself with individuals who are basically unqualified for the
        positions for which you appointed them. Worse than that, the majority
        of them are people who, like you, bear no special allegiance, respect, or
        affection for this country and her traditions. …. YES, “We noticed.”

        You are 24 months into your term and every morning millions of Americans
        wake up to a new horror heaped on us by you. You seek to saddle working
        Americans with a health care/insurance reform package that, along with cap
        and trade, will bankrupt this nation. …YES, “We noticed.”

        We seek, by protesting, to let our representatives know that we are not
        in favor of these crippling expenditures and we are labeled “un-American”,
        “racist”, “mob”. We wonder how we are supposed to let you know how
        frustrated we are. You have attempted to make our protests seem isolated
        and insignificant. Until your appointment, Americans had the right to speak
        out. …. YES, “We noticed.”

        On September 11, 2001 there were no Republicans or Democrats, only
        Americans. And we all grieved together and helped each other in whatever
        way we could. The attack on 9/11 was carried out because we are Americans.

        And YES, “We noticed…”

        There were many of us who prayed that as a black president you could help
        unite this nation. In six months you have done more to destroy this nation
        than the attack on 9/11. You have failed us. …. YES, “We noticed.”

        September 11 is a day of remembrance for all Americans. You propose to
        make 9/11 a “National Service Day”. While we know that you don’t share
        our reverence for 9/11, we pray that history will report your proposal as
        what it is, a disgrace. …. YES, “We noticed.”

        You have made a mockery of our Constitution and the office that you hold.
        You have embarrassed and slighted us in foreign visits and policy.

        …. YES, “We noticed.”

        We have noticed all these things. We will deal with you. When Americans
        come together again, it will be to remove you from office. Do Take notice.

        If you agree with this, please pass it on. If not, I’m sorry.

      29. Bob
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

        Tater, haven’t we already determined that you’re a freeloading creep who suckles the government tit via various social programs?

      30. Jiggs
        Posted September 12, 2011 at 2:58 am | Permalink

        Sorry but I’ve got some problems with some of the posts above …

        Sherry Hackett died before that was published. It was written by some woman in Florida in 2009 (Sherry Hackett died in 2007 … check it out on your favorite search engine).

        As far as Reverend Jeremiah Wright is concerned, he did say “God damn America” (not “God-damned America”, as cited above). But how many people have heard or read the whole thing, all of what he said? While there is no question that those words came out of his mouth, it is part of a long sermon and to take that one line and make it something that it is not is totally ignorant … and ignores, conveniently for some, the bigger message.

        There are various other misrepresentations and straight up lies in that whole “We noticed” thing but you’ll have to check them out yourself.

        And, I really prefer not to nit pick or bust someone’s chops about grammar, but it should be noted that “Your a complete loser guy!” and “… since your ‘glad’ that Hoffa called them out, take a hike punk!” … it’s “you’re”.

        So, in my opinion, this evidence would lead one to question the validity of any totally random links and incoherent posts that certain contributor(s) add here.

        It’s my hope that people will think more about what they copy and post here or anywhere and maybe put some thought into it before doing so.

      31. Eel
        Posted September 12, 2011 at 8:11 am | Permalink

        In Tater’s defense, he doesn’t write any of this shit himself.

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