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.