On a distantly related note to that Rasmussen Poll showing dwindling public support for unions, we should reflect on the fact that is was on this day exactly 90 years ago that the majority of Boston’s police officers (1,100 out of 1,500) abandoned their posts and went on strike after Boston Police Commissioner Edwin Upton Curtis objected to the unionization of the force.
After robbery and rioting erupted in the wake of the strike, Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge summarily fired all of the 1,100 participating policemen and replaced them with unemployed World War I veterans.
Shortly afterward, American Federation of Labor President Samuel Gompers telegraphed Coolidge claiming that the strike was justified because “the right of the policemen” had been denied. Coolidge responded to Gompers thusly: “Your assertion that the Commissioner was wrong cannot justify the wrong of leaving the city unguarded. That furnished the opportunity, the criminal element furnished the action. There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time.”
These actions and this telegraph propelled Coolidge to a level of national prominence that arguably facilitated his selection as Warren G. Harding’s running mate in the 1920 presidential election, which of course paved the way for Coolidge’s own assumption of the presidency upon Harding’s death in 1923 – a fact that Coolidge acknowledged in his autobiography.
With Card Check on the horizon, we should stash this one away in the already bulging “Where is Coolidge When We Need Him?” file.