Only One Thing Can Save Us

Unions and a Democratic Society

Recorded May 8, 2015 at the 57th Annual Debs – Thomas – Harrington Dinner in Chicago. Tom Geoghegan argues that even as the U.S. labor movement crumbles, a revived but different labor movement is crucial to building a democratic society. How might that be done? Geoghegan has some suggestions and he notes: Disruption works.

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Only One Thing Can Save Us by Thomas Geoghegan

Episode 61 — The Rauner Agenda

Recorded February 6, 2016. Bunnie Johnson (Shop Steward and Executive Board member for AFSCME Local 2858, and a caseworker for the Illinois Department of Human Services) and Fran Tobin (Coordinator, Alliance for Community Services) in conversation with Chicago DSA’s Bob Roman. What happens when the State pretends there is no money? What happens to Human Services when the government is run “like a business”? Welcome to the new barbarity.

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Episode 61
(LtoR) Fran Tobin, Bob Roman, Bunnie Johnson. Photo: Fran Tobin

Episode 56 — Students and Labor

Fight for 15, 04/15/2015
USAS Local 15 participated in Fight for 15 strike on 04/15/2015; click photo for more.

Recorded September 12, 2015. Over the past twenty years, the student-led organization United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) has run dozens of strategic student-labor solidarity campaigns with the goal of building sustainable power for working people. With some 150 campus “locals” in the United States, more in Canada, and a formal partnership with the AFL-CIO, USAS represents a genuine, grass-roots labor youth movement.

As current, former, and future workers, USAS organizes around the principle that universities must respect all workers throughout their campus and within their supply chains. In past years, members of USAS at the University of Illinois – Chicago (UIC) have led students onto critical faculty strikes on their campus, successfully cut the university’s apparel contract with VF Corporation in solidarity with Bangladeshi garment workers, and are currently mobilizing on the offensive for a $15 wage for all campus workers.

Martin Macias, community activist and journalist, interviews Kiera Bouton and Jeff Uehlinger, members of USAS local 15 at the University of Illinois – Chicago. Bouton and Uehlinger discuss the international campaign to End Deathtraps and their personal experiences fighting the corporatization of higher education. They also share their views on the role of students in the labor movement and the need of incorporating collective liberation.

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Out of the Ashes: Creating Change from Tragedy in Bangladesh’s Garment Industry by Ann Kelly

Students Ask Why JanSport Parent Company Won’t Sign Bangladesh Worker Safety Agreement by Michael Arria


Niketown Chicago 1998
Anti-sweatshop demonstration at Niketown in Chicago, 1998.

Episode 53 – Eugene V Debs

Eugene V Debs

Recorded June 27, 2015. Dan Hamilton, Chicago DSA’s Political Education Director, interviews Professor William A. Pelz on the occasion of the recent release of the second edition of the Eugene V. Debs Reader: Socialism and the Class Struggle. Edited by Professor Pelz, the book is an anthology of writings and speeches by one of the most radical of America’s early 20th century labor leaders, bringing to life a once powerful Socialist movement. Eugene Victor Debs (1855-1926), one of America’s most famous socialists, was an important political figure on the American political landscape in the early 20th century. He ran as the Socialist Party’s presidential candidate five times and obtained nearly a million votes in 1912 and 1920.

In this interview, Professor Pelz expands on some of the topics touched on in the book, such as work, racism, the “two party” system, the means of change, as well as more contemporary topics such as, how might Debs regard the Bernie Sanders campaign?


William A. Pelz

William Pelz is a Professor of History at Elgin Community College, a founder of the Institute of Working Class History, and past Chicago DSA Political Education Director.


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Eugene V. Debs Foundation

Institute of Working Class History

Episode 52 – The Most Dangerous Woman in America

Mother Jones
The Most Dangerous Woman in America!

Recorded April 27, 2015. According to West Virginia district attorney Reese Blizzard, that would be Mary Harris Jones, aka “Mother Jones.” And just who was Mother Jones and why was she so dangerous? What was Mother Jones’ role in the American Railway Union’s Pullman Strike? What was her relation to the women’s movement of the early 20th Century? How did her radicalism relate to her Irish heritage? How is her legacy and work with the miners’ unions to be remembered at the Mother Jones Museum in Mt. Olive, Illinois? And what was it with Gene Autry, anyway?

In this episode of Talkin’ Socialism, Peg Strobel interviews Rosemary Feurer, Associate Professor of History at Northern Illinois University and Director of the Mother Jones Heritage Project.

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