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US History: Pullman Strike

How did the Pullman strike start, what were the events associated with it, and what was its impact on the history of the United States?

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The Pullman strike was a crucial event in the labor history of the United States, because it created labor violence for the next fifty years in the United States. The strike pitted the Pullman railroad company against the strongest labor union in the United States over mistreatment by the company of its workers. In the early 1830's, the railroad had become highly competitive through the use of wage cutting overproduction and price cutting to survive. In addition, railroads have been favoring unskilled workers over skilled workers through hiring unskilled workers, charging piece rate wages and placing foreman over the unskilled workers (Schneirov, 2010)

George Pullman owned the Pullman Car company that produced the rich and lush Pullman railroad cars. George Pullman felt the competition and pressured his factories to produce more through his foreman and the hiring of unskilled workers. In addition, Pullman's foreman was arbitrary and reduced the piece rate wages. Pullman also created towns where he housed his workers in poor conditions, which he thought showed his paternalism, but when he refuse to negotiate, it went against this value.

The ultimate cause was the 1863 depression that forced Pullman to reduce wages by reducing the piece rate percentage on the production of wood in the woodworking department. However, he refused to reduce the rent in his houses. On May 7, Thomas Wickes met with three other workers to organize a strike for the restoration of wages, reduction of rent, and end of harassment by the foreman (Schneirov, 2010). They sent a message to Pullman, but the three workers were fired. On May 11, 1894, the railroad workers went on strike in Chicago (Iverson, 2010)

Then Thomas Wickes made an appeal to American Railway Union, a national union of railroad workers led by Eugene Debs. It was created in ...

Solution Summary

The solution provides a discussion on the Pullman strike, its origins, associated events and impact on US history.