How Chicago Works It Out

If you can’t get a job in Chicago, you can’t get a job anywhere.

Written by Cynthia Gallaher
Art by Bob Ward
running vehicles on road

How Chicago “Works” It Out

“Chicago is the great American city…perhaps [the last] of the great American cities.” ~ Norman Mailer

“If you can’t get a job

in Chicago,

you can’t get a job anywhere,”

my mother would say.

That was before

all the factories closed or

moved to the Sunbelt, to China,

or other far-flung countries.

But in Chicago’s factories,

meat packing lines or rail yards,

where steel-toed, levied, dickied

workers who labored 12 to 16 hours a day, 

Seven days a week, were cogs in wheels, 

gears that pushed tooth-by-tooth bosses’ agendas

as if families, children, health needs

or free time never existed. 

Some called Chicago the city that works,

but to bring forth the eight-hour day,

and the concept of the weekend to America,

its workers saw bloodshed,

Lost homes and lost lives.

The city that works

is the city in which many forget

beats the rhythmic heart

Of collective bargaining,

so American workers could

have their say

in the workplace,

Wield the power of negotiation

with their words,

call forth a decent livelihood

not only with benefits,

But a new sense of work and life,

voicing a higher octave

of humanity the world could hear

loud and clear.

About the Author

green mountain with river in the middle

Cynthia Gallaher, a Chicago-based poet, is author of four poetry collections, including Epicurean Ecstasy: More Poems About Food, Drink, Herbs and Spices, and three chapbooks, including Drenched. Her award-winning nonfiction/memoir/creativity guide is Frugal Poets’ Guide to Life: How to Live a Poetic Life, Even If You Aren’t a Poet.

About the Artist

blue digital wallpaper

Bob Ward is a photographer from Chicago.

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