"Get up, get down, Chicago is a union town." One of the most popular chants during September's teachers strike spoke to the city's proud labor history. It was the town where the teachers movement union began in 1897, immigrant workers organized the meatpacking industry in the 1930s and the demand for an eight-hour day took root.
But as union membership falls across the country, Illinois has been hit particularly hard. Illinois lost the third largest number of union members in the country. Only Michigan and Ohio were harder hit in numbers.
A large part of this loss is due to public sector cuts, according to Monica Bielski Boris,assistant professor at the School of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
To find out more about the changing demographics of unions in Illinois,see our spin-off section in the November/December issue.
Photo credit: Zol87