The Watering Hole, Monday, September 5, 2016: Happy Labor Day

This year will mark 134 years since the first Labor Day parade was held. In New York City, on September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers marched from City Hall to Union Station. It was no paid holiday, but they did it to honor their fellow workers and to air some grievances with employers. Though more states held these parades over the coming years, it wasn’t until 1894 that Congress established Labor Day as a federal holiday. Unfortunately, it took blood being spilled to get them to do this.

Pullman, Illinois, was founded by railroad sleeping car manufacturer George Pullman as a city for his railroad workers. Built in 1880, the town was conceived as a kind of haven from the political and moral influence of Chicago, Illinois. All its residents worked for the Pullman company, drew paychecks drawn on Pullman’s bank, and even had their rent automatically deducted from their paychecks. Things were fine for a while until an economic depression hit the country in the early 1890’s. In 1893, to keep his business going, Pullman laid off hundreds of workers and cut the pay of those who remained. His mistake was that he also didn’t cut their rents, and workers were still getting the same amount deducted from their much smaller paychecks. Workers walked out demanding more pay and lower rents.

Along came Eugene V. Debs, head of the American Railway Union, and he helped them out by getting all railway workers across the nation to boycott trains pulling Pullman cars. This sent the entire nation into turmoil as riots broke out all over the country and delivery of mail was interrupted.

President Grover Cleveland acquiesced to the railroad execs. He declared the strike a federal crime and sent 12,000 troops to break it up. Before it was over, two people were killed by federal marshals. The strike was officially called to an end on August 3, 1894. Eugene Debs went to jail, and the ARU was disbanded. It was pretty much the end of unions until the Great Depression. The public, however, was unhappy with Cleveland’s handling of the strike, and to make good with the nation’s workers, and just six days after the strike ended, Congress rushed through a bill establishing Labor Day as a holiday and Cleveland signed it into law. But it was not enough to help him win re-election in 1894.

After the Korean War, nearly half of the nation’s workers were unionized, but today that number is down to about 15%. We all owe a debt of gratitude to unions and the workers willing to risk all by striking for better conditions. If you have Monday off as a holiday, you can thank the unions. If you have to work (I know what that’s like) and you get paid extra for doing so on a holiday, you can thank unions. If you have a forty-hour work week and have the opportunity to get overtime, you can thank unions. If you and your children went to school to learn, instead of a factory to work, you can thank unions.

Enjoy your holiday, and have a safe one while you’re at it.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss any topic you wish.

31 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Monday, September 5, 2016: Happy Labor Day

  1. Donald Trump Does Detroit

    He spoke Friday to a handful of African-Americans in North Philadelphia, and as described on philly.com, told them that “he is not a bigot, and blamed the media for portraying him that way, according to people who attended a private event.”

    No sir, stop right there. We are not going to allow any deflection or redefining of words here. You are a bigot. That is not a media narrative or a fairy tale. That is an absolute truth. No one manufactured your bigotry; you manifested it.

    (snip)

    Before Trump read his remarks, he said, “I just wrote this the other day knowing that I would be here, and I mean it from the heart.”

    That’s the first thing that sounded like a lie. The New York Times reported last week that Trump’s advisers had gotten the questions Trump was supposed to answer during an interview in Detroit and prepared a script for him. What makes us think that they didn’t also write his pandering speech?

    • Here’s the way I see it: Trump opens his mouth, says something, and I automatically assume it’s a lie. The only way to change my mind is for someone to submit some verifiable proof that it’s not a lie.

      I’m still waiting.

  2. Actor Hugh OBrian has passed away at 91. I was watching The Life And Legend of Wyatt Earp earlier this afternoon.

    Also, Phyllis Schlafly dead at 92. Can we pass the ERA now?

  3. Fox to Pay Gretchen Carlson $20 Million

    Fox News has settled with former host Gretchen Carlson and will pay her $20 million in the sexual-harassment lawsuit she filed against cable-news channel founder Roger Ailes, Vanity Fair reported early Tuesday, citing three sources familiar with the situation. The case, filed just two months ago, spurred a number of other highly publicized claims, then an internal investigation, then Ailes’s resignation from Fox News. Despite his ouster, Ailes still denies the allegations.

    • “nor in a Republican Party that is willing to trade away principle for pursuit of electoral victory.”

      But that is what they have been doing for years!! Are more conservatives finally seeing the light? (Not really! sigh)

  4. Wayne, it looks like I’m going to get dragged in to Twitter. I’m monitoring Nicole Sandler’s and Gotta Laff’s pages, which started in order to get news of how Nicole’s cancer surgery went last Tuesday and her progress, and now I’m wanting to interact with them more. Laffy is really well connected to what’s going on, and has good sources.

    • I’ll be glad to follow you back. You can click on any of my own tweets and see the “Follow” button. Once you follow me, Twitter will send me a notification and from that I can follow you back.

      If you see people with #UniteBlue or #CTL in their bios, they’re fellow lefties. I can also give you tips on how to find people to follow, if you like. Lastly, just understand from the beginning that as you follow more and more people, you will find it impossible to keep up with every tweet from every account you follow. So you’ll have to learn to skim. There are ways to keep tweets from the accounts you’re most interested in handy to follow. (Lists is one.)

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