Yesterday was Labor Day, a holiday “dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.” But not according to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), who continues to show his disdain for American workers for which the holiday is dedicated.
On Eric Cantor’s Twitter account, @GOPLeader, Cantor tweeted the following:
“Today, we celebrate those who have taken a risk, worked hard, built a business and earned their own success.”
How could the Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives think that there would be a holiday passed into law that celebrates the killing of American workers? Cantor is either a dolt who really does not know better, or he simply has no shame and will say anything to appease his campaign donors.
Eric Cantor should apologize to every American who works for a living, read a history book and then resign.
The origin of Labor Day:
It all started in Pullman, Illinois, which was a company town, founded in 1880 by George Pullman, president of the railroad sleeping car company. Pullman designed and built the town to stand as a utopian workers’ community insulated from the moral (and political) seductions of nearby Chicago.
The town was strictly, almost feudally, organized: row houses for the assembly and craft workers; modest Victorians for the managers; and a luxurious hotel where Pullman himself lived and where visiting customers, suppliers, and salesman would lodge while in town.
Its residents all worked for the Pullman Company, their paychecks drawn from Pullman bank, and their rent, set by Pullman, deducted automatically from their weekly paychecks. The town, and the company, operated smoothly and successfully for more than a decade.
But in 1893, the Pullman Company was caught in the nationwide economic depression. Orders for railroad sleeping cars declined, and George Pullman was forced to lay off hundreds of employees. Those who remained endured wage cuts, even while rents in Pullman remained consistent. Take-home paychecks plummeted.
And so the employees walked out, demanding lower rents and higher pay. The American Railway Union, led by a young Eugene V. Debs, came to the cause of the striking workers, and railroad workers across the nation boycotted trains carrying Pullman cars. Rioting, pillaging, and burning of railroad cars soon ensued; mobs of non-union workers joined in.
President Grover Cleveland, faced with nervous railroad executives and interrupted mail trains, declared the strike a federal crime and deployed 12,000 troops to break the strike. Violence erupted, and two men were killed when U.S. deputy marshals fired on protesters in Kensington, near Chicago, but the strike was doomed.
Government violence against the labor movement became a major political issue and “in the immediate wake of the strike, legislation was rushed unanimously through both houses of Congress, and the bill arrived on President Grover Cleveland’s desk just six days after his troops had broken the Pullman strike.” He signed the legislation “in an attempt to appease the nation’s workers” but was not re-elected for a second term.
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