Why did the great railway strike shock many americans?, History

Why did the Great Railway Strike shock many Americans?

Workers often protested against low wages or wage cuts by going on strike. This meant refusing to work and shutting down factories and businesses in an effort to force employers to make concessions. Although workers often attempted to band together to form labor unions or other workers' organizations, laws in the United States would not guarantee workers' right to join unions until the 1930s. Federal, state, and local authorities, as well as factory owners, frequently attempted to break strikes by hiring replacement workers or by arresting or intimidating strikers.

Labor unrest was widespread: more than 37,000 strikes occurred in the U.S. between 1880 and 1905! Many of these were small strikes, directed against a particular business. Others were nationwide strikes, involving thousands of workers.

The first nationwide strike, the Great Railway Strike, occurred in 1877, when the Baltimore and Ohio railroad announced at ten percent wage cut, and other railway companies also announced that they would reduce employees' wages. Workers began striking against the B & O Railroad at Martinsburg, West Virginia, and the strike quickly spread to railroad companies across from coast to coast. Strikers destroyed railroad locomotives, tracks, and buildings. The strike lasted two weeks, and was ended after President Rutherford Hayes sent U.S. troops to protect railroad company property. When the strike was over, nearly 100 strikers had been killed, and millions of dollars in property destroyed.

Posted Date: 5/1/2013 3:20:28 AM | Location : United States

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