Volley after volley of tear gas poisoned the Paris air Thursday, as authorities struggled against nationwide strikes and a groundswell of public anger at a high-stakes government attempt to change the way France views work.
Oil refineries shuttered. Nuclear were plants on hold. Dock workers hurled firecrackers. Union activists cranked up the tensions to try to force President Francois Hollande to abandon a labor bill that gives employers more flexibility and weakens the power of unions.
The big question is whether Thursday's burst of labor action fizzles out after the one-day strikes end, or inspires lasting unrest.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls opened the door to...