For a good overview of the strike, I recommend starting with Wikipedia.
Another source would be History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850: 1877-1896 by James Ford Rhodes.
The strike was fueled by several things, one the decrease of the wages being paid to the employees and the 1873 depression. It probably became as violent as it was because of Taft and how he won the election. But all of that is speculating, which our characters might do in conversation. If you choose to use the strike in your novel be sure of the dates and the time it entered your area.