Dissatisfied with wage offers by management, 425,000 railway workers went on strike on Thursday (December 10) and brought trains to a halt all over the United States.
Scenes in Grand Central Station in New York, scenes in Chicago with last trains running and picketlines, scenes in New York where the train stops on its way to New York and stranded passengers leaving the station for buses.
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Background: Dissatisfied with wage offers by management, 425,000 railway workers went on strike on Thursday (December 10) and brought trains to a halt all over the United States.
The unions ignored White House pleas, a strike delay and immediate 13.5% pay increase voted by Congress, and a federal court injunction ordering them back to work. The White House left little doubt that it was prepared to take action if the workers did not immediately end the strike. President Nixon said he expected the workers to "immediately return to work and their leaders to "immediately return to the bargaining table." Labour Secretary James Hodgson said the Administration would consider using the army to run the trains before the began. After the strike started he said the Administration would take some sort of action if it were not ended within 24 hours.
All that did little to comfort 600,000 commuters and passengers stranded across the country. It did little to alleviate the worries of political leaders who predicted industrial shutdowns and serious unemployment if the strike continued. In New York City a dejected lot of commuters were left stranded in Grand Central Station after the Penn Central Railroad suspended service at 11 P.M. on Wednesday in anticipation of the shutdown. About 180,000 commuters were left without trains and the situation was complicated by a strike of the city's taxi drivers who wanted more money too. In Chicago some of the commuter trains were kept running after the strike by supervisory personnel. By morning 140,000 train riders had to find another means of getting into the city, as picket lines of railroad workers went up.
Some trains around the country stopped running before reaching their demonstration. The Penn Central Chicago to New York train was one of them, and it stopped in Cleveland, Ohio. Twenty-nine passengers were on the train. They had been told the train ride might end in Cleveland and they took the gamble. They lost. Some of them spent the night on the train, but all of them eventually headed for bus terminals.