A quiz on Chicago strikes

September 11, 2012

On Tuesday's Morning Shift, John Lyons, author of a book about the history of teachers unions in Chicago, looks at the tricky business of teachers strikes. Also, WBEZ history blogger and retired CPS educator John Schmidt remembers the picket lines of the 1980s and quizzes listeners on famous Chicago walkouts. To play live, call 312.923.9239.



(D) 1969. The strike lasted two days, May 22-23. The Union claimed 85% participation. Among other things, the teachers won a pay raise, maximum class size, and the right of Union officials to visit schools.

(B) an eight-hour work day. The Illinois legislature had recently passed an eight-hour-day law, but the law had no teeth. Chicago labor leaders called a general strike on May 1. The strike had almost total participation, but it collapsed after a week.

(A) Eugene V. Debs.  The strike was broken when President Cleveland sent in troops to keep the U.S. mail moving. Debs later ran for President five times as the nominee of the Socialist Party. In 1912 he polled 6% of the popular vote, the highest percentage ever for an openly Socialist candidate.

(D) McCormick Harvester Works. Strikebreakers had been brought into the McCormick Works. When strikers attacked the strikebreakers, police fired on the strikers, killing at least two of them. The Haymarket meeting was called to protest the police action.

(A) Police killed unarmed strikers. A crowd of about 200 strikers and supporters were marching toward the Republic Steel Plant. A line of Chicago police stopped them. The crowd threw things at the cops, and the cops responded with tear gas. Gunfire broke out. The protesters scattered. When it was over, ten civilians were dead.