Carl Shier

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Carl Shier

Carl Marx Shier (1917-2007) was a leader of Chicago Democratic Socialists of America. He was the father of Nancy Shier.[1]

Socialist Party

Carl Shier joined the Young Peoples Socialist League in 1931[2].

At one stage he was involved[3]with the Goldmanites—a Trotskyist splinter group and later a cadre in the single most effective group of social democrats that America has ever known – the Reutherites in the UAW.

Independent Socialist League

Prominent members of the Independent Socialist League included Hal Draper and Ann Draper, Julius Jacobson and Phyllis Jacobson, Max Shachtman, Al Glotzer, Herman Benson, Gordon Haskell, Ernest Rice McKinney, Saul Mendelson, Deborah Meier, Don Chenoweth, Sam Bottone, Joe Friedman (Carter), Paul Bernick, Jack Rader, Carl Shier, Lewis Coser, Ernest Erber, Stanley Plastrik, Irving Howe, B.J. Widick.[4]

United Auto Workers

The United Auto Workers (UAW) was Carl Shier's union.

When public employees began to organize, the UAW lent Carl Shier[5]to the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) to serve as the Director of their Illinois council. Later he served as AFSCME's talent scout, bringing into the Illinois Council their subsequent directors.


Carl was active in international solidarity work, most notably with[6]the Illinois Labor Network Against Apartheid. He served on the boards of Illinois Issues and Chicago's oldest civil rights organization, the Community Renewal Society.

Debs Dinner founder

In 1958 Carl Shier was one of the founders[7]of Chicago's Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner.

Helping Eliseo Medina

Eliseo Medina's first interaction with the the fore-runners of Democratic Socialists of America came in Chicago when, as a young worker, he was sent by Cesar Chavez to lead the Chicago grape boycott campaign.

In 1969, Medina came into contact with Carl Shier, a member of the local Socialist Party USA chapter and later to be one of the founders of the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee, the organization that preceded DSA.

Shier connected Medina with the Chicago Labor movement, a decision that "propelled Medina’s success with both the grape boycott and his career"[8].

Harold Washington for Mayor of Chicago

Circa late 1982, members of the Citizens Committee/Harold Washington for Mayor of Chicago (in formation) included Carl Shier.[9]

Washington appointment

In 1986, Harold Washington appointed Carl Shier to Chicago's Board of Ethics.[10]


Shier was a founding member of the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee and in 1982 Democratic Socialists of America.

DSOC leader


In 1982 the Chicago local of Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee was led by;

Democratic Agenda

More than 1,200 people attended the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee initiated Democratic Agenda Conference held November 16-18, 1979, at the International Inn and Metropolitan AM Church in Washington 1 DC. The conference focused on "corporate power'; as the key barrier to "economic and political democracy," concepts many Democratic Agenda participants defined as "socialism.'

The Democratic Agenda meetings attempted to develop anti-corporate alternatives" through influencing the direction of the Democratic Party during the period leading to the July 1980 Democratic National Convention in New York.

A Democratic Agenda A Trade Union Breakfast to discuss "Responding to the Workplace Needs of Younger Workers," "Problems of Minority Workers," "Fighting the New Union Busters," and related problems featured as speakers Carl Shier, DSOC, chairman; Henry Bayer, AFSCME Area Director, Illinois, Joe Finkbeiner, president UAW Local l6l8 (Oldsmobile) ¡ Sam Meyers, president, UAW Local 259; and Joyce Miller, vice-president, Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union and president, Coalition of Labor Union Women.[11]

DSA Labor Commission

In 1982 the Democratic Socialists of America Labor Commission, was co-chaired by:[12]

In 1990, Jo-Ann Mort and Michael Schippani (chairman), were contacts for the Democratic Socialists of America Labor Commission.[13]

Other members included Tim Sears, Penny Schantz, Paul Baicich, Carl Shier and Jack Clark, a DSA National Political Committee member, then working for the Massachusetts Secretary of Labor.[14]

DSA Conference delegate

In 1983 Carl Shier was a Chicago delegate to the Democratic Socialists of America conference in New York City, October 14-16, 1983[15]

Illinois Labor Network Against Apartheid

In 1989, Carl Shier and Rose Daylie were active in Illinois Labor Network Against Apartheid[16].

Saul Mendelson's funeral


The Memorial Service for Chicago Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) member Saul Mendelson was held on Sunday, March 29, 1998, at the First Unitarian Church, Chicago[17].

The service was MC'd by a retired colleague, Bob Clark. Carl Shier of DSA, spoke first and was followed by Saul's friend Deborah Meier, "a MacArthur Genius Grant recipient who is now starting a new school in Boston". Amy Isaacs, National Director of the Americans for Democratic Action, spoke of what "Saul had meant on foreign affairs to the ADA".

Other speakers included Communist Party USA aligned Senator Carol Moseley Braun, Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, State SenatorBarack Obama, Illinois House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie and "a good friend from New York", Myra Russell.

The concluding remarks were made by an old friend, Harriet Lefley, a former Trotskyist with Saul Mendelson in the 1940s, who was then Professor of Psychology at the University of Miami Medical School.

Eulogies also came from Quinn Brisben, (Socialist Party USA presidential candidate 1976, 1992) and David McReynolds (Socialist Party USA presidential candidate 1980, 2000).

Both Brisben and McReynolds are also members of Democratic Socialists of America.


There was a memorial for Carl Shier at Weinstein Brothers in Wilmette on Friday, May 18. 2007, Despite the brief notice, hundreds attended. The current and past AFSCME Council 31 directors, Henry Bayer and Steve Culen, spoke. Deborah Meier and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky also shared their memories, as did two of Carl's nephews, Paul Blumberg and Dick Sard.[18]


  4. TYR, April/May 2013]
  9. Undated circa late 1982, HWAC Mayoral Campaign Records, Box 5, Folder 1
  10. Democratic Left, May/August 1986, page 18
  11. Information Digest, December 14, 1979, page 371/372
  12. DSA Keylist newsletter, July 1982
  13. Democratic Left, March/April 1990, page 11
  14. Democratic Left, July/August 1990, page 17
  15. DSA Conference delegate list Oct. 12 1983 update
  17. Memorial Service program
  18. new ground 112, May/June 2007

[[Category:Illinois Labor Network Against Apartheid