I didn’t read this when it first came out. I figured that living in Chicago and participating in the rallies and being on the CORE Facebook group gave me a sense of the strike that would be hard to replicate in a little book. I was wrong. Uetricht lays out the background and the events of the strike in the first half of the book in a depth that I was unfamiliar with. For that I’m grateful that I read it
He then lays out the future of CTU and unionism as a whole, and I wish I didn’t read it now, because with Rauner in office in Illinois, the strike now feels like a high-water mark of what is possible in respect for the service professionals in Illinois – this book is a reminder of what could be with proper unity (and voter turnout) against the forces of “reform” that want to marketize every personal transaction.
Structurally, there are some issues. Uetrucht likes to repeat scenes, which is odd, given the brevity of the book. There are multiple events given paragraph-length treatments more than once. Since It only takes a couple of hours to read, perhaps that should have been more heavily edited. There’s also three separate points where the reporting turns to first person. Since so much of it is not in first person, the inclusion of the authorial “I” is a bit jarring. I do get it though. I was at rallies for the teachers as a former teacher (nonunion though) myself. I felt solidarity with them, and the feeling around town was electric. I had my own red shirt that brought cheers and fives from strangers. It is that feeling of unity and solidarity that I wish we could feel all the time, and not just as teachers fight for respect from an elected government. In spite of those flaws, this is a worthy read.