Anger expressed by the workers perpetuated the reason as to Pullman strike turning violent. Debs had foreseen the violence coming and had urged the ARU local to stay calm and refrain from overreacting. After leaving on June 29, when he had just held a peaceful meeting in Blue Island where he got strong support from workers, the group began to riot (Mitrani). The group derailed locomotives and set some of the buildings in the neighborhood on fire. The violence escalated to the point where an engine that was associated with the United States mail train was derailed.
Significance of the Strike
Pullman's strike has a lot of importance in American history. In this strike, workers advocated for the rights of earning higher wages and working for a few hours. The wages and hours were essential requirements that the companies refused to offer them. Instead, the workers advocated for better pay and affordable quarters to live in, where the companies insisted not to provide them.
One of the negative impacts of the war was the jailed term subjected to Debs for ignoring the injunction that was submitted against the strikers by judge 2. From this strike, people can see the president of the United States ignoring state wishes and instead deploy the federal troop to end a Pullman's strike.
Unlike other strikes in American history, The Pullman strike helps the labor reformers to begin a proper search on the strategies of protecting employee's interest in an unfettered capitalist economy. The other significance was that American laborers understood that they in a bad situation. For that reason, the strike presented them with an opportunity to improve. Otherwise, they shall suffer from the orchestrated government via a rising turnout at various elections.
Significance of Leadership
Pullman Strike of 1894, even though initiated by ARU, was profoundly impacted by the leadership of union leaders. Through the leadership of Eugen Debs, the strike marked a turning point in the United States battle of the labor law. In essence, the labor law was enacted to be an instrument where the federal government could regulate the corporation but was instead a subject of manipulation. The Pullman strike was first brought a labor day. After which, the strike began to take different form beginning with riots, struggles and ended in violence (Ritter). Although Debs never wanted violence as he had advocated for a boycott of work.
Debs argues that unless the government listens to the demands of the workers, there shall be higher chances of bloodshed and revolution. Debs presents that 90 percent of Americans will be arrayed against the rest. Debs asserts that he steadfast to be arrayed against the laboring people regardless of the number. Debs posits that even if the worker's struggles end, he will not exclude himself from labor (Mitrani). A decision he claims that he has arrived at thoughtfully and calmly. Debs condemned the course pursued by the railway managers to mislead government officials to remove regular and overawe the strikers and sympathizers.
The people who did not have power were workers in Pullman companies. Most of the workers faced starvation, unchanged rent charges, and low wages. For instance, when a worker complained to Pullman on their deprivation, he orders all the workers to be fired. Thus, it implies that also the employers had powers. For that reason, workers matched for a strike.
Pullman was a famous person in his town based on his innovative skills, intelligence, and power. Pullman was praised for his diligent effort in developing the Pullman Palace car idea and productive industry. Pullman was known to be untampered and had nobler elements that him successful in relating to the American public. The union leaders had acquired more ideas from the people that resolution and determination had turned into stubbornness and arrogance. For instance, Pullman was an arrogant man, and if Pullman had a changed attitude, the strike would have been prevented.
Economic issues, especially of long-working hours and low wages, had been presented to them. In the company, Pullman hired young people, African Americans, and single women to work as his secretaries (Ritter). Pullman's company lowered wages, never changed rents, and laid-off workers leading to a call of strike.
On the other hand, the workers were powerless and had to organize a strike for their grievances to be met. Workers were subjected to low wages, poor living conditions, and starvation. Indeed, it is because of these situations that make their boycott to turn violent
In conclusion, the Pullman's strike was a response to financial reserve concerning economic depression that commenced in 1893. The workers were angry with the Pullman Palace Car Company, which operated as a manufacturer of the railroad cut. The company had cut the wages by 25 percent and did not include a reduced rent and charges. Pullman's intention to fire them proves that leaders were influential and treated workers as slaves to suit their demands. Influential leaders like Eugen Debs are a true example of leaders to be emulated and cherished in American history.
Mitrani, S. "The Pullman Strike and the Matrix of State Institutions." University of Illinois Press, 2017, doi:10.5406/illinois/9780252038068.003.0010.
Ritter, D. "Public space in post strike Pullman: A study of diasporas." PsycEXTRA Dataset, 2010, doi:10.1037/e620412011-118.
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