Street car workers defied Twin City Rapid Transit President Horace Lowry and rallied for union representation in St. Paul's Rice Park.
Lowry absolutely refused to recognize or negotiate with the Amalgamated Association of Street & Electric Railway Employees. In late November, Lowry issued an ultimatum that any men wearing union buttons or agitating on company property would be fired.
The union, fighting for its very existence, defied Lowry and the Public Safety Commission and walked off the job. At 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 2, close to 3,000 strikers and their sympathizers gathered in Rice Park to listen to the fiery speeches of leaders of the NonPartisan League. As the crowd dispersed, the street car company turned off its power system, leaving dozens of street cars stranded in the downtown area.
The Pioneer Press reported that "trolley cars were surrounded and attacked, their motormen and conductors were dragged off and roughly handled." By 6 p.m. Twin City Rapid Transit had suspended all service and pulled all its cars except the 40 that had been disabled. Thousands of people across St. Paul were stranded without transportation.
In Minneapolis, Lowry's heavily guarded street cars continued their regular service. In St. Paul, Horace Lowry had the crisis he needed to demand a massive military mobilization.
With the firepower of the state militia, the political backing of Governor Burnquist and the Minnesota Public Safety Commission and the organizational support of the St. Paul Association, Lowry fired 800 workers and crushed the union.
This account is taken from Bill Millikan's book, A Union Against Unions, Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2001.