A native Chicagoan, Carl Marx Shier (1918-2007) was involved in local, national and international trade union and socialist movements. Named for Karl Marx, Shier grew up in an active socialist family. As a teenager, Shier worked for the prominent American socialist Norman Thomas. In 1942, he became an auto worker and joined Local 6 of the United Auto Workers. Shier rose through the union's ranks to become its Regional Director in Chicago. Shier was active as an organizer and negotiator in several labor disputes. Along with Michael Harrington, he was a founding member of the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee, which became the Democratic Socialists of America. He made three international visits as an American Socialist representative and attended the 1978 Socialist International Congress as a delegate.
The Shier collection contains correspondence, labor agreements and contracts, transcripts of speeches by Shier and others, extensive clippings on labor movement related issues, and published material from labor unions, mainly the United Auto Workers.
Shier donated the material to the University of Illinois Library in 1986, through the assistance of Stanley Rosen and Margaret Chaplin of the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations.