They were sick and tired of being sick and tired. 3,000 employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company were working harder and making less. They didn’t care that no one was buying their train cars anymore. They didn’t care that the country was in the middle of an economic crisis They cared that they were working twelve-hour days for low wages, so they effectively shut down traffic for all point west of Chicago in a strike involving 250,000 workers in 27 states. It took the US Marshals and 12,000 Army troops to break the strike. Thirteen workers were killed and 57 more were wounded during the violence.
Six days later, in an effort to pacify the nation, Grover Cleveland declared the first Monday in September the first Labor Day in the United States.
People who study such things might draw interesting parallels between the social and economic climates of 1882 and 2009. Did you know your celebratory weekend had such a tragic beginning?
What’s the esprit de corps in your corporation? Take time to acknowledge and appreciate the many people who work alongside you as you return to your labor this week.