Abstract: Debating the Health Rights of Mexican Citizens Employed by the Pullman Company, 1920s-1930s

Chantel Rodriguez


A leader in early twentieth-century business, the Pullman Company expanded its sleeping car operations into Mexico in 1920 with the conclusion of the Mexican Revolution. This expansion made Pullman a business that crossed political borders, not only physically, but also in its reliance on foreign workers. Pullman's transnational operations raised several questions including the role jurisdiction played in the filing of compensation claims and the role that Pullman itself would play in affecting the practice of Mexican labor law. These questions resulted in accountability debates over compensation claims and the health rights of Mexican workers. The objective of this paper is to examine these accountability debates, tracing how American business practices gave meaning to health as a crucial component of Mexican citizenship. While historians have highlighted the importance of Pullman's business practices to U.S. labor history, they have yet to examine either the experiences of Mexican nationals employed by the Pullman Company or the effect Pullman's expansion into Mexico had on U.S.-Mexico labor relations, specifically the transnational regulation of health. I argue that Pullman's participation in these debates shaped both the practice of Mexican labor law and the emerging meanings of Mexican citizenship.