Labor Relations Role-Play:

Pullman Strike Role Play, The Workable Peace: The Rise of Organized Labor in the United States


Orion Kriegman and Stacie Nicole Smith, under the direction of Stacie Nicole Smith and David Fairman

Six-person mediated negotiation among representatives of the Pullman Palace Car Company, its workers and others involved in a general strike, to address issues of workers' rights


Please note: you must order a copy (a.k.a. license/usage fee) for every person participating in the simulation in your course. This simulation has multiple roles, so you will be unable to complete your purchase without meeting the minimum quantity requirement of copies per role.

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PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center

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Soft copy vs. hard copy

You may order this role simulation in either soft copy (electronic) or hard copy (paper) format. If you select the soft copy option, you will receive an e-mail with a URL (website address) from which you may download an electronic file in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. You will have one week to download your materials from when you receive the email. You are then only authorized to use, print, or share the materials as many times as the number of copies you purchase. The TNRC charges for use of this simulation on a per-participant basis. Therefore, you must purchase a separate copy of this simulation for each person who will be participating, regardless of the number of roles in the simulation. You will only receive a link to one electronic file, which includes all general instructions, confidential instructions, and any teaching notes for the simulation. You should separate out the instructions before distributing to participants.

If you select the hard copy option, you will receive paper copies of this role simulation via the shipping method you select.

For additional information about the soft copy option, please visit our FAQ section, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at or 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.) or 301-528-2676 (outside the U.S.).

Please note: At the present time, Teaching Negotiation Resource Center soft copies are compatible with the following versions of the Adobe Acrobat Reader: English, German, French, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese, Japanese, and Korean. If you have a different version of the Acrobat Reader, you may wish to download one of these at, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at, 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.), or 301-528-2676 (outside the U.S.) for further assistance. This restriction does not apply to the freely available Teacher’s Package Review Copies.

Ordering a single copy for review

If you wish to review the materials for a particular role simulation to decide whether you’d like to use it, a PDF, or soft copy, version of the Teacher’s Package for the simulation is available as a free download from the description page of most role simulations and case studies. All Teacher’s Packages include copies of all participant materials. In addition, some Teacher’s Packages (but not all) include additional teaching materials such as teaching notes or overhead masters.

Ordering copies for multiple participants

To order multiple copies of a role simulation for use in a course or workshop, simply enter the total number of participants in the box next to “Quantity.” There is no need to calculate how many of each role is required.

If you are ordering hard copies, the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center will calculate the appropriate numbers of each role to provide, based on the total number of participants. For example, if you wish to order a 2-party role simulation for use with a class of 30 students, you would enter “30” in the box next to “Quantity.” You then would receive 15 copies of one role and 15 copies of the other role, for use with your 30 participants. As another example, if you ordered 30 participant copies of a 6-party role simulation, you would receive 5 copies of each role.

In the event that the number of participant copies you order is not evenly divisible by the number of roles in the simulation, you will receive extra copies of one or more roles. Participants receiving the extra roles may partner with other participants playing the same role, thus negotiating as a team. So, for instance, if you ordered 31 copies of a 2-party role simulation, you would receive 15 copies of the first role and 16 copies of the second role. One of the participants playing the second role would partner with another participant playing that same role, and the two would negotiate as a team.

Bulk Pricing Discount

For bulk orders, we offer the following pricing discounts. Please note that these only apply to bulk orders of the same simulation.

  • Between 100-250 copies – 10% discount
  • Between 251-500 copies – 25% discount
  • More than 500 copies – 50% discount
Log In or Register to download the free Teacher's Package Sample.

The Pullman Strike Role Play is a simulation from the Workable Peace Curriculum Series unit on The Rise of Organized Labor in the United States.


This role play is set in the town of Pullman, Illinois, outside of Chicago, in 1894. Pullman is a town designed, owned, and operated by industrialist George Pullman, President of the Pullman Palace Car Company, and with a population of several thousand people, almost all employed at the Pullman Company. Labor activism is strong in Chicago at this time, but Pullman tries to keep his workers from organizing and does not recognize unions. Nonetheless, the workers join the American Railway Union, just as the nation is sinking into an economic depression that forces most industrialists to lay off workers and lower wages. The burdens of this economic downswing are especially difficult for Pullman’s workers because the rents in the town of Pullman are high, and Pullman does not lower them.

Eventually, the conflict escalates to a confrontation between Pullman and a committee representing workers. The workers demand higher wages and lower rents, and Pullman informs them that neither can be met. Soon thereafter, the workers go on strike, and manage to convince the members of the American Railway Union to support them with a boycott of Pullman cars. That means they refuse to work on trains containing Pullman cars. The general managers of all the train companies in Chicago side with Pullman, and refuse to disconnect Pullman cars from their lines, and so train traffic is held up and stopped across the nation.

Although attempts were made to convince the parties involved to enter into negotiations, the key stakeholders never convened in either a formal or informal facilitated setting. Instead, the federal government sent forces from the U.S. Army to end the strike. It is at this point that the Pullman Strike Role Play becomes counter-factual. Our simulation asks participants to imagine “what if” all the stakeholder groups had been brought together for negotiations, by imagining that the federal government is unwilling to intervene until negotiations are attempted. Five stakeholders and a mediator/chair agree to sit down together to try to resolve the conflict.



  • Provide accurate history and background information on growing conflict between labor and capital during the Industrial Revolution, and specifically the Pullman Strike, and provide opportunities for students to engage with this history in a direct and realistic context.
  • Stimulate and motivate student learning through active participation, as well as reading, writing, class discussion, and other forms of analysis and expression
  • Build students' negotiation and conflict management skills by asking them to take on the roles of participants seeking to resolve a conflict through negotiation, with support and feedback as they prepare, conduct, and debrief the role play.
  • Challenge students to find the links between the conflict presented in the role play and the conflict resolution steps presented in the Workable Peace Framework, and to apply them to other conflicts in history and in their own lives.


Teacher's Package Includes:

  • Participant Materials
  • Teaching Note
  • Master List of Player Goals
  • Framework for a Workable Peace
  • Workable Peace Self-Assessment Form
  • Overheads
  • Observation/ Assessment Instructions


If you would like additional information about the Workable Peace framework and teaching materials, including information about teacher training and support, please contact Workable Peace Co-Directors David Fairman or Stacie Smith at:

The Consensus Building Institute, Inc. 238 Main Street Suite 400 Cambridge, MA 02142 Phone: 617-492-1414 Fax: 617-492-1919 Website:

Pullman Strike Role Play, The Attributes

Time required: Unspecified
Number of participants: 6
Teams involved: No
Agent present: None
Neutral third party present: None
Scoreable: No
Teaching notes available: No