Fight the Man!: 8 Defining Strikes in New York City History

A transit strike makes it even harder than usual to bike across the Brooklyn Bridge. And, usually, its HARD.
  • A transit strike makes it even harder than usual to bike across the Brooklyn Bridge. And, usually, it’s HARD.

In the past week, the teacher’s strike in Chicago has crippled the nation’s third-largest public school district, forcing hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren to spend their days at home, rather than in classrooms. Will somebody—anybody—think of the children? Or at least think of their poor parents. No one wants to spend time with kids. They’re horrible. In fact, I think that might be what the Chicago teachers are protesting about, seeing as how one of the things that they are resisting are longer school days. Seriously. Kids are horrible.

And it’s important to remember that strikes aren’t all fun and games. While a strike can produce moments of hilarity—like the protester who held a sign that outed Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel’s love for Nickelback (burn!)—they also tend to cripple cities and reveal how society is basically just a finely-tuned machine that’s always on the brink of completely shutting down. One little glitch and the gears grind to a halt, leaving our children running through the streets like the unhinged little monsters they truly are.

The obvious next question—after contemplating whether anyone actually likes Nickelback, even the band members’ own mothers—is to wonder whether a strike like this could come to New York. After all, we are a city that relies on public works like nowhere else in the country. Oh, you have the third biggest public school system, Chicago? That’s nice. We’re number one! What American city has the largest public transportation system? Are you kidding? That’s obvious. New York! Who produces the most and the smelliest garbage of anywhere that I’ve ever been? That’s right. N.Y.C.

So, yeah, all sorts of strikes would be totally devastating and economically crippling for this city. But we’ve survived them before. Let’s take a look back at some of the biggest strikes in New York history so that we can understand the motives, the methods used to resolve them, and the end results. What I’m saying is, let’s learn something today. Unlike all those kids in Chicago who aren’t in school and are getting dumber by the minute!