The Law Office of James R. Snell Jr. September 2018

How a Railroad Protest Laid the Foundation for a National Holiday The Pullman Strike and the Origin of Labor Day

Today, Labor Day mostly means a day off and the closure of public pools. But when it was first created, it was a president’s desperate attempt to curb the tension after one of the most violent strike breakups in American history. In the late 19th century, the workers of the Pullman Company, which manufactured luxury train cars, all lived in a company-owned town. George Pullman, the owner, lived in a mansion overlooking houses, apartments, and crammed-together barracks, all of which were rented by the thousands of workers needed for the operation. For some time, the town operated without a hitch, providing decent wages for the workers while netting the higher-ups millions of dollars. But after the economic depression of the 1890s brought the country to its knees, everything changed. George Pullman slashed his workers’ wages by nearly 30 percent, but he neglected to adjust the rent on the company- owned buildings in turn. As a result, life became untenable in the town, with workers struggling to maintain the barest standards of living for themselves and their families.

In response, the workers began a strike on May 11, 1894. As the event ramped up, it gained the support of the powerful American Railway Union (ARU). But Pullman, stubborn as he was, barely acknowledged the strike was happening, and he refused to meet with the organizers. The tension increased when Eugene Debs, the president of the American Railway Union, organized a boycott of all trains that included Pullman cars. The strike continued to escalate until workers and Pullman community members managed to stop the trains from running. Eventually, President Grover Cleveland sent in soldiers to break up the strike. Violence ensued, with soldiers making a great effort to quell the strike at its core. By the time the violence ended, 30 people had lost their lives and an estimated $80 million in damages had been caused throughout the town. A few months later, President Grover Cleveland declared Labor Day a federal holiday. Many experts believe that this act was an effort to build rapport among his pro-labor constituents after handling the incident so poorly.

This month, as you fire up the barbecue and enjoy your day off, take a moment to remember the workers who fought for labor rights in our country.


Beans & Greens

Dual Threat


This hearty pasta is perfect for the start of fall. With protein from cannellini beans and a heaping portion of kale, it’s the rare pasta you can enjoy without guilt.

Which NFL quarterback won the Super Bowl and earned his law degree in 1994?


Send your answers to Caitlyn (

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

12 ounces rigatoni pasta

1 bunch Tuscan kale, rinsed

1. The first correct answer wins a $25 gift card to Starbucks.

Juice of 1 lemon

1 15-ounce can cannellini (white kidney) beans 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2. All other submissions are entered in a drawing to win a second $25 gift card to Starbucks.

Salt, for pasta water and to taste

3. The funniest wrong answer will be chosen by Caitlyn and will also win a $25 gift card to Starbucks. All entries must be sent to Caitlyn by Friday, Sept 21, and the winners will be announced in our next edition.

2 ounces fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)


Cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. 4. Add cooked pasta, kale, and 1 cup pasta water to skillet. Toss vigorously as kale cooks, about 4 minutes. 5. Transfer to bowls, top with a squeeze of lemon, sprinkle with cheese or salt, and serve.

1. In a large stock pot, boil 6 quarts of liberally salted water. On another burner, heat a large skillet to medium-low. 2. Add pasta to boiling water and cook for 3 minutes less than the package recommends. 3. While pasta is cooking, add beans, red pepper, and 1 tablespoon of oil to skillet.

Congratulations to last month’s winner,Abigail Smith!

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