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Entries : John Kikulski and Chicago Labor
John Kikulski and Chicago Labor

John Kikulski and Chicago Labor

Born in German-occupied Poland in 1876, John Kikulski probably immigrated to the United States in 1891. He was naturalized and married in 1898. In 1904 Kikulski served one term as a director of the Polish National Alliance. He also served as president of the Polish Falcons from 1910 to 1912. In 1903 he ran for Sixteenth Ward alderman on the Independent Labor Party ticket and lost.

Active in the labor movement from the late 1890s on, Kikulski won election as president of Local 14 of the cabinetmakers and carpenters union in 1908. During World War I, he worked as an organizer for the American Federation of Labor and helped to lead strikes at International Harvester and the Crane Company. In 1917 Kikulski joined the stockyards labor movement and gained his greatest success. Packinghouse workers elected him president of the largely Polish Local 554 of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen and later secretary of the Stockyard Labor Council. Afterwards members voted Kikulski director of District 9 of the meat cutters' union. In 1919 he ran an unsuccessful campaign for city clerk as the Farmer-Labor Party candidate. Kikulski preached racial harmony and working-class unity, but saw the stockyard movement crippled by the race riot of 1919. Later that year he became entangled in Chicago's labor wars. Various factions accused him of embezzling money, but his working-class supporters remained loyal.

On May 17, 1920, two unknown assailants attacked and shot Kikulski in front of his home. He died four days later and received a hero's burial as mourners filled St. Hyacinth's Church beyond capacity. A procession of some two hundred automobiles escorted Kikulski's casket to St. Adalbert's Cemetery.