So, Seattle's got a trash strike on its hands, eh? Well, past garbage strikes across the world show overflowing rubbish might not be the worst of our worries. Presuming the Teamsters don't crumble like a block of Wisconsin cheddar, The Emerald City may see events transpire that go far beyond a trashy musk. Here's a look at how sanitation strikes have changed the course of history.
New York, 1968
New York City has seen more strikes than Justin Smoak, and that's in large part to its garbagemen. But even by New York's standards, the 1968 strike was bad: the union president was arrested, and the National Guard was called into to haul away the tons of trash that piled in the streets. But what changed history was the strike in helped inspire in another American metropolis.
Source: Worker's World
Just days after the New York strike began, sanitation workers in Memphis followed suit. Martin Luther King Jr., ever a man of the people, was in Memphis to show solidarity with the trash collectors there, nearly all of whom were black and payed squat for their dangerous work.
The strike had begun in February, and King visited the city several times to work with union leaders, his final visit being in April. He was assassinated outside his hotel room April 4. The strike would end two weeks later.
London, the late 1970s
The way Johnny Rotten tells it, London was plagued by a garbage strike for pretty much the entire 1970s. But London's loss was the music world's gain, as the filthy city pretty much single-handedly gave rise to punk music. (Do I exaggerate? Perhaps, but Rotten, at least, makes a pretty big stink about the trash strike that was going on when the Sex Pistols were founded).
The strikes that have reached every corner of Europe (except Germany, 'cause Germany don't play that game), began in Greece. And the strikes in Greece began, you guessed it, as a garbage strike. So when Mitt Romney gets elected because of the bad economy, be sure to thank your cousin Niko in the old country.
Source: St. Louis Dispatch
A long-running trash strike in Naples was a factor in sweeping Silvio Berlusconi, and his favorite underage girlfriends, back into the Prime Minister's Palace in Italy in 2008. Berlusconi, who had previously been prime minister until he was unseated in 2006, made ending the city's trash woes a campaign promise, and held his first cabinet meeting in Old Napoli.