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Due to the holiday weekend, the next full issue will arrive on Monday, September 14. In the meantime, check out the special article below from Every Learner about the history of Labor Day and why we celebrate it today. This a great article that can be shared with your family, friends, and associates as we celebrate this unique holiday, so please feel free to forward this email on to them.
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The Mortgage Market View...
America's Labor Day may be summer's last hurrah, but labor's days past were no picnic. A few generations ago, American working men and women (and often children, too) struggled just to get weekends off--let alone a long one. A few generations ago, people died when labor struggled. Example: the Pullman railway strike of 1894.
"I Owe My Soul to the Company Store"
Just south of Chicago, the town of Pullman was literally owned by George M. Pullman, manufacturer of the Pullman sleeping car used by railroads. Company brochures painted the town as a workers' paradise, "where all that is ugly and discordant and demoralizing is eliminated, and all that inspires to self-respect is generously provided."
In reality, the company town was just that, run by and for the company as a moneymaking venture. One worker said, "We are born in a Pullman house, fed from the Pullman shop, taught in the Pullman school, catechized in the Pullman church, and when we die we shall be buried in the Pullman cemetery and go to the Pullman hell."
"There Is Nothing to Arbitrate"
When depression struck America in 1893, Pullman slashed wages 25 percent, without reducing rents at company houses or prices at the company store. Some 5,000 workers and their families sank deep into the company's debt.
Finally, in May 1894, the workers went on strike. Pullman closed the plant and rebuffed all requests for arbitration. "There is nothing to arbitrate," he said. Stymied, the union called for a boycott of Pullman cars. Beginning June 26, switchmen refused to attach Pullman cars to trains. When railway officials fired the men, trainmen everywhere walked off the job. Railroad traffic across the country ceased.
Railway officials turned to the federal government for help, and got it in spades. The U.S. attorney general, a former railway lawyer, convinced the federal courts to issue a sweeping injunction against all strike activity, arguing that the strikers had formed an illegal conspiracy in restraint of trade under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, a law passed, ironically, to combat big business. On July 4, 1894, federal troops descended on Chicago to enforce the injunction.
Out of "Pullman Hell"
In the powder-keg atmosphere that followed, soldiers shot into crowds trying to stop trains, and mobs set hundreds of freight cars alight. The strike collapsed. More ominously for workers, though, companies learned to use injunctions from business-friendly courts as a weapon against labor. One injunction threatened to arrest anyone "inducing or attempting to induce.any person or persons to abandon the employment of...railway companies."
Yet even as the Pullman strike crumbled, the political winds began to shift. In fact, a federal commission called to investigate the incident blamed the government "for not adequately controlling monopoly and corporations, and for failing to reasonably protect the rights of labor." A new, Progressive era was born out of labor's pains.
Eventually, victories would come: the 8-hour workday, the 5-day workweek, improved working conditions, child labor laws, collective bargaining rights--even a national Labor Day, approved by Congress the same year as the Pullman strike.
--By Michael Himick
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Reproduced with permission. Copyright c 2002-2009 Every Learner, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Week's Economic Indicator Calendar
Remember, as a general rule, weaker than expected economic data is good for rates, while positive data causes rates to rise.
Economic Calendar for the Week of September 07 - September 11