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Studs Terkel Gives Us All Hell

A few years back, Studs Terkel gave us his thoughts about the history of the eight-hour day. Here's the text of some of his Livelyhood interview. Of course, it's always better straight from Studs. So check out the video if you can.

One of the great labor battles of contemporary history here in Chicago, 1937– the Republic Steel Massacre. There was a strike at Republic Steel on Chicago’s South Side and there was a picnic for Memorial Day. There were women and kids – and the cops fired at the behest of company owners, and so ten people were killed. And, the Trib– the Trib in those days was headed by a Colonel McCormick, sort of a Colonel Bull Moose figure. One of his former employees called him the finest mind of the 12th century. And, Colonel McCormick was anti-union, of course. Next to this picture of a cop with a club over a fallen worker, heading – Worker Attacks Police.

Young people today, a great many young, are anti-union. They have no idea how the eight-hour day came to be. I spoke to a young couple. I hate to use the word yuppies, but they would fall into that category, generally. And, so I say, "How many hours a day do you work?" to this young couple. "Eight." I say, "Why don’t you work 16 hours a day? Well, of course your grandparents did. Others did. Because, if it weren’t for unions, if it weren’t for what happened here in Chicago back in 1886, you’d be working 16 hours a day. Four guys got hanged for you twirps. Did you know that? So you can work 8 hours a day? Men were hanged for that."

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