May Day in Chicago

May 1 wouldn’t be International Workers’ Day without Chicago. This annual celebration of workers’ rights was placed on May 1 to commemorate the 1886 Haymarket affair, and more than a century later Chicago still mobilizes for May Day. Although rally attendance fluctuates from year to year, the city has had its share of memorable showings, including an immigration-reform protest in 2006 that drew between 400,000 and 700,000 people to the streets.

In this episode, Chicago DSA’s Tom Broderick sits down to discuss May Day 2017 with Artemio Arreola, the Political Director of Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Robert Reiter, the Secretary Treasurer of Chicago Federation of Labor, and Susan Hurley, the Executive Director of Chicago Jobs With Justice and a member of Chicago DSA.

As Susan says in the podcast, “What the billionaires don’t want is for working people to come together, across gender, across race, and across communities. That’s the biggest threat to them. It’s strictly about divide and conquer when it comes to the folks who are in power right now.”

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Our Guests

Artemio Arreola is currently the Political Director at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. In his position, Artemio manages our New Americans Democracy Project, which is a non-partisan civic engagement program that seeks to engage and mobilize voters on issues our members and allies prioritize.

In addition, Artemio deals with many different political organizations and individuals that directly work with the immigrant community including the Federation of Michoacán’s Clubs in Illinois (FEDECMI) and Casa Michoacán. He has also been a union labor activist for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Mr. Arreola is a member of the Conejo Consultivo Del Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior/ Consultative Council of the Institute of the Mexicans in the Outside (CC-IME). The CC-IME helps people establish their Mexican birth-right to participate in the Presidential Mexican elections. Mr. Arreola is one of the main organizers and co-founder of the historic immigration demonstration (The March 10th Movement) that brought more than 500,000 people to the streets of Chicago. The same group also initiated the plans for the May 1st march. With his connections to leaders here United States, Artemio has been able to organize leadership networking both in the United States and Mexico.

Chicago Jobs with Justice Executive Director is Susan Hurley. Susan is a graduate of Northern Illinois University with a B.A. in Political Science, and has worked as a community, labor, and political organizer prior to coming to Chicago Jobs with Justice.

Bob Reiter is a third-generation member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150. Throughout his career, he has worked as a labor attorney, an organizer, a negotiator and a lobbyist. He came to the Chicago Federation of Labor as the Secretary-Treasurer in 2010. He saw this as an opportunity to bring the values his parents taught him as a child to a bigger stage, allowing him to affect people’s lives in a way he could not do at his local.

As Secretary-Treasurer, Bob represents the interests of labor throughout Chicago and Cook County. As a Board member for the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, Bob is helping to strengthen the economy of Chicago by bringing trade shows, conventions and other public events to Chicago. His involvement with various community groups, including Chicago Jobs with Justice’s Executive Committee and Arise Chicago’s Executive Board, allows him to fight for the rights of workers through education, organizing and shaping public discourse. As a member of the Citizen Action/Illinois Policy Council, Bob has the opportunity to influence the organization’s public policy positions, the legislative agenda and any candidate endorsements for public office. On the Metropolitan Planning Council Resource Board, Bob is helping to build a strong economy and reinvigorate Chicago’s neighborhoods.

Bob holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in political science from Eastern Illinois University, and a Juris Doctor degree from IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. He and his wife, Diana, have two beautiful children.

More Information

May Day


May Day 2017

Chicago DSA and May Day


May Day in Chicago by Bob Roman


It Was May Day and I Couldn’t Stop Smiling by Bob Roman


Chicago’s May Day 2003 by Harold Taggart

May Day 2003: Health Care Not Warfare! by Harold Taggart


May Day 2002 by Harold Taggart

May Day 2002: Another World Is Possible by Harold Taggart


The May Day Coalition Lives On by Harold Taggart

Reclaiming May Day by Bob Roman


Labor History Month in Chicago


Episode 74 Producer: Tom Broderick

Recording Engineer and post-production: Charles Austin

Web: Bob Roman and Charles Austin

Theme music: Brandon Payton-Carrillo

Disclaimer: Opinions belong to the opiners and not Chicago DSA.


Boycott the Braids

Episode 73 – Recorded March 10, 2017.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ (CIW) Fair Food Program in the tomato fields of Florida has eliminated modern-day slavery and sexual violence, improved farmworker wages and guaranteed basic protections for tens of thousands of workers. In this episode, Tom Broderick interviews Lupe Gonzalo, member and leader of CIW about how the Fair Food Program works, how it has benefited the workers in the field, the history of CIW, and just why CIW is leading a boycott of Wendy’s.

Translation is provided by Yaissy Solis, national co-coordinator for the Student/Farmworker Alliance, a national network of students and youth working in partnership with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.

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MP3 (40.6 MB) or OGG VORBIS (30 MB) (36:52)

Our Guests:

Lupe Gonzalo is a member and leader of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). Ms. Gonzalo is a farmworker herself, with over 13 years of experience working in the fields of Florida. As part of the Fair Food Program, Ms. Gonzalo and her colleagues conduct worker-to-worker education sessions on human rights in the fields on all farms participating in the Program. Ms. Gonzalo’s work at the CIW includes hosting daily radio shows on the CIW’s low-power community FM radio station, leading the weekly women’s group meetings, receiving complaints of abuses in the fields, managing wage theft claims, and investigating cases of modern-day slavery. Finally, Ms. Gonzalo represents the CIW at a national level, speaking publicly on the challenges faced by farmworkers in Florida, both during major actions with thousands of consumers and in dozens of presentations throughout the year.

Yaissy Solis works as national co-coordinator for the Student/Farmworker Alliance, a national network of students and youth working in partnership with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. Ms. Solis has substantial expertise in the fields of student/youth organizing, economic justice, movement building and direct-action campaigns.

For More Information:

Coalition of Immokalee Workers

Student/Farmworker Alliance

Alliance for Fair Food

Fair Foods Standards Council

Sign the Boycott Wendy’s Petition



Episode Producer – Tom Broderick

Recording engineer – Bob Roman

Post production – Chelsea Anderson

Theme music – Brandon Payton-Carrillo

Blog editor – Bob Roman


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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More information

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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For More Information

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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MP3 (28.3 Mbytes) or OGG VORBIS (36.1 Mbytes).

For More Information:

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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For More Information:

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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MP3 (27.3 Mbytes) or OGG VORBIS (34 Mbytes) 29:49
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For more information: