Monday, September 05, 2011

America Enjoys Labor Day, Ignores the History of Violence Responsible for it

Labor Day, for many it’s the official end of summer and the beginning of a new school year for children. A day set aside by congress in 1894 and, according to the Department of Labor, “a creation of the labor movement and dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.”

What is conveniently left out of that “dedication,” is acknowledgement of the economic depression that began the previous year in 1893 and what became known as the Pullman Strike, where economic conditions not much different than we see today caused layoffs and wage cuts at the Pullman company, a company who was known for manufacturing rail cars that converted to sleeping quarters overnight.

George Pullman, owner of the company cut wages, but retained the level of rent he charged workers in his company owned homes, causing a strike that the American Railway Union decided to become a part of. Their efforts led to “Rioting, pillaging, and burning of railroad cars,” disrupting not only travel, but delivery of the mail.

Eugene V. Debs
Democratic president Grover Cleveland deployed troops to break up the strike and in the ensuing escalation of violence and looting, two men were killed. The leader of the American Railway Union, Eugene V. Debs went to prison, his union disbanded and Pullman employees had to sign a pledge they would never again unionize.

In the meantime, seeing several states passing and celebrating a Labor Day and sensing political unease due to his sending troops in to break the strike; President Cleveland called on congress to rush through a national Labor Day in an effort to reconcile with a weakened but still present Labor Movement in America.

The legislation passed unanimously June 28, 1894, just 6 days after the Pullman Strike was broken.

The ensuing years has seen Labor Day retained and enjoyed by American, but the fear of more union violence seems to have been forgotten, relegated to the trash can of history. In fact, much union violence throughout our history seems to have been minimized and cast aside as unions seek more and more voice in our government, largely through the Democratic Party.

Long before the Pullman Strike and passing of Labor Day, labor movements began claiming to be standing up for the worker on a global scale. One such group was the “International Working Men’s Association,” founded and organized on the principals and organizational writings of Karl Marx. His writings also led to the brutal formation of the now defunct Soviet Union.

Surviving an assassination attempt in 1912, former Progressive Republican President and candidate again for the Presidency as a Progressive “Bull Moose,” Theodore Roosevelt, with a bullet still lodged in his chest said in part of Labor,
“It is essential that here should be organizations of labor. This is an era of organization. Capital organizes and therefore labor must organize. My appeal for organized labor is two-fold; to the outsider and the capitalist I make my appeal to treat the laborer fairly, to recognize the fact that he must organize that there must be such organization, that the laboring man must organize for his own protection, and that it is the duty of the rest of is to help him and not hinder him in organizing. That is one-half appeal that I make.”

“Now, the other half is to the labor man himself. My appeal to him is to remember that as he wants justice, so he must do justice. I want every labor man, every labor leader, every organized union man, to take the lead in denouncing disorder and in denouncing the inciting of riot; that in this country we shall proceed under the protection of our laws and with all respect to the laws, I want the labor men to feel in their turn that exactly as justice must be done them so they must do justice. They must bear their duty as citizens, their duty to this great country of ours, and that they must not rest content unless they do that duty to the fullest degree.”

How different the actual history of Union murder and sabotage has been as we read of union leaders like Richard Trumka, then head of the United Mine Workers when addressing the heinous murder of Eddie York in 1993, a nonunion contractor who operated heavy equipment shot to death during a strike that year. Trumka shrugging off the murder said, “I’m saying if you strike a match and you put your finger in it, you’re likely to get burned.”

As Michelle Malkin states in the article linked above, “Trumka told UMW members to ‘kick the shit out of every last’ worker who crossed his picket lines.” Trumka was rewarded for such actions by being moved up the ladder of the AFL-CIO.

The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto, writing of the union thuggery seen in Wisconsin earlier this year showed that ‘Civility’ Was Always Dead when unions don’t get their way.

Even our Federal Bureau of Investigation documents organized labor’s long and continuing ties to organized crime, telling us,
“Labor unions provide a rich source for organized criminal groups to exploit: their pension, welfare, and health funds. There are approximately 75,000 union locals in the U.S., and many of them maintain their own benefit funds. In the mid-1980s, the Teamsters controlled more than 1,000 funds with total assets of more than $9 billion.”

“Labor racketeers attempt to control health, welfare, and pension plans by offering “sweetheart” contracts, peaceful labor relations, and relaxed work rules to companies, or by rigging union elections.”

That continuing history is completely ignored across the nation as editorials today, like the Columbian’s In Our View: America’s Backbone glorifies unions by telling us, “Labor Day’s focus reveals that workers have built economic and political democracy.”

It is hardly “political democracy” when, as Thomas J. DiLorenzo wrote in a September 2004 article, The Myth of Voluntary Unions,
“Historically, the main ‘weapon’ that unions have employed to try to push wages above the levels that employees could get by bargaining for themselves on the free market without a union has been the strike. But in order for the strike to work, and for unions to have any significance at all, some form of coercion or violence must be used to keep competing workers out of the labor market.”

Such is the legacy of Labor and Labor Day. If the unions would face up to their history of violence and wrongdoing, including strong ties to organized crime, perhaps they could clean their act up and maybe re-grow their dwindling membership.

Reasonable contracts could be negotiated that would benefit both the company and the worker, without fear and threats of violence, retaliation or vandalism.

Instead, we see more and more threats of and actual violent acts, but now against struggling middle class taxpayers, the very people unions say they are helping.

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