He Hired Formerly Enslaved Black Men Because They Knew How To Be 'Servile.' So They Formed A Union.

There once was a job that was critical to the nation's infrastructure and the spread of ideas and people across the nation, and it was done exclusively by African-American men. It also presented creative ways to work for a better world for everybody.

“We are born in a Pullman house, fed from the Pullman shops, taught in the Pullman school, catechized in the Pullman Church, and when we die we shall go to the Pullman Hell.” — Pullman workers




The Company

George Pullman was one of the most well-known capitalists and entrepreneurs during a time of few rights for workers and extreme inequality between the classes. He found his niche by making sleeping cars for the newly expanding post-Civil War railroad system that brought people to various places in the country on a much more frequent basis. He sought to improve that system with luxury sleeping cars so rail travel would be much easier and more pleasant. He added multiple layers of service over the next decades, including gourmet meals, ultra-clean cars, opulent furnishings, and most importantly, very professional staff to make the travelers feel pampered.

Sleeping cars existed before Pullman, but he turned them into an extravagant mode of travel that the newly emerging middle class and the wealthy wanted to experience. He made his first luxury car around the end of the Civil War, and in fact, his first Pullman train car was the one that brought Abraham Lincoln’s body home to Illinois from Washington; it was a brilliant form of advertising, and it worked, since it was seen by millions. Orders piled up overnight from train companies.



The Workers

One of the key features of Pullman trains was the service. Pullman hired thousands of former slaves who had the experience of “serving” masters and their families, which translated to the clientele. But there was a strict divide among the labor: White conductors collected tickets and sold upgrades along the routes, while African-American porters carried luggage, cleaned the cars, shined shoes, cooked and served meals, and made travelers feel pampered. In addition to this divide was one of wages — white workers received on average six times as much as the porters, which meant the porters relied heavily on tips.

Meanwhile, next to the factory where he made these luxury train cars in Chicago, Pullman built housing, grocery stores, and just about everything else his workers would want. It sounds convenient, right? But company towns like this were prime opportunities for Pullman to screw his workers over by raising prices and rents at will, punishing and evicting anybody who dared to try to improve conditions or wages, and more. He prohibited independent newspapers and public speeches by the residents. His staff regularly inspected the workers’ housing to make sure that they were clean and could evict anybody with a few days’ notice.

All of this, plus a reduction in wages for longer work hours after the 1893 depression hit, resulted in a massive strike in 1894 that was ended by federal troops, ordered by President Grover Cleveland.



Hey, Porter

The real profit for Pullman was in filling the rail cars and providing a high-end service that people would pay for. Pullman sleeping cars expanded to even more markets. At its peak in the 1920s, there were 20,000 porters on the job — the most African-Americans employed by any company in history. There were a few women working on these trains as well; about one maid for every 50 porters was an African-American woman.

One of the few well-paying jobs for African-American men at the time, it was rather a treasured position to get. But the work was grueling; 400 hours a month on the job or 11,000 miles of travel were the minimum to get full-time pay. Basically, they lived on the trains — for around $22,000 a year in today’s dollars, supplemented by tips. They paid for their own clothing and lodging on layovers, and if any of the passengers made off with pillows or blankets, it was taken from their pay.

But the work hours were one of the biggest problems. When they slept, it was on couches in the smoking car, hidden from the passengers. In other words, they couldn’t even use the sleeping cars when they got their average three hours of sleep per night.

Additionally, it was a common practice for the porters to be called either “George” or a commonly used racial slur that begins with the letter “N.” And, effectively, “George” meant the same thing.

From 1909 to 1913, porters tried unsuccessfully to unionize three times to address some of these issues. In response, the company began its own union, which was of course a sham. But it distracted the efforts of workers long enough that it delayed further efforts at unionizing for another 12 years.

In 1925, the fledgling union elected A. Philip Randolph to head up the unionizing drive. He was a highly skilled labor and community organizer but never a porter and hadn’t even ridden on a luxury train car because African-Americans were not allowed to ride on the very cars that the porters serviced.



The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters

As soon as the union was formed, it put together a list of demands of the Pullman company:

1. A significant pay raise

2. Abolishing the practice of tipping

3. Adequate rest breaks

4. Increasing pensions

5. A name card in each car with the actual name of the porter

Since tips would often be more than actual wages, it seems counterintuitive that they would want to abolish them, right? But in reality, to get those tips, workers had to be subservient and rigidly obedient to white clientele. Removing them and raising wages would effectively remove one of the more humiliating parts of their job.

Of course, the company refused and began firing and spying on the organizers and union sympathizers. Everything had to go underground, including secret handshakes and passwords. A ladies' auxiliary unit composed of the wives of porters was formed, which was arguably one of the most critical components of the secret operations. One thing working in their favor was that trains going from city to city across the country provided great opportunities for distribution of literature, news, job information, and more.

It took 12 years for the porters to succeed. One key to victory was the 1935 passage of the National Labor Relations Act (with some pressure by Franklin Delano Roosevelt), which gave unions legal legs when it came to organizing and prevented some of the company's intimidation tactics used to keep the union from forming. 1935 was the first negotiating session between the company and the union. That same year, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters became the first African-American union recognized by the American Federation of Labor (AFL). The union signed its first contract with Pullman in August 1937.

The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, fresh off a significant victory, went on to help integrate other jobs and unions across the country.

If you have the time (about a half-hour), here is an absolutely wonderful podcast from the folks at "Stuff You Missed in History Class."

It fills in a lot of fascinating details that complete the story nicely, including the achievements of the Brotherhood and A. Philip Randolph leading up to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s.

A final, rather fascinating note: George Pullman was so reviled by the people who worked for him that he left specific instructions to be entombed in concrete and steel so that workers wouldn’t defile his body.

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

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The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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