Janus v. AFSCME Council 31

By Dan Gilbert


Dan Gilbert teaches in the School of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois.

In a matter of weeks the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Council 31, a case originating from our own state that carries profound implications for the future of the labor movement nationwide.
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Anti-Union Rauner, Koch Brothers Aim at a Nation of Wisconsins

By Ricky Baldwin

Ricky Baldwin is a longtime community and union organizer who lives in Urbana.

Anticipating the Janus decision discussed elsewhere in this issue, Central Illinois Jobs With Justice (JWJ) held a public discussion on February 18 in the Champaign Public Library with Cindy Jones, a Wisconsin social worker, and Patricia Rego, Wisconsin nurse. Titled “Turning Lemons Into Lemonade,” the event highlighted the history of recent changes in public sector labor law in Wisconsin, the negative impact of such changes, and how the “Wisconsin case” is of a piece with right-wing attacks on unions at the federal and state levels.
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History Matters: Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Fight for Economic Justice

By Stephanie Fortado

Dr. Stephanie Seawell Fortado is a Lecturer at the University of Illinois Labor Education Program, providing workshops and extension programming for unions and the general public on the Champaign-Urbana campus and throughout Illinois. Before joining the University, Stephanie served as the Executive Director of the Illinois Labor History Society (ILHS), the oldest state-wide labor history not-for-profit in the United States. She is currently a board member for ILHS. She completed her PhD at the University of Illinois, where she studied African American working class and social movement history. Stephanie is currently working on her first book, with the working title Race, Recreation and Rebellion, which looks at struggles over public space during the Civil Rights Movement in Cleveland, Ohio. She is a past President, Treasurer, Bargaining Team and Strike Committee member of the Graduate Employees Organization 6300, of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, and former delegate to the Champaign County Labor Council. She is currently a steward and organizing chair of the newly formed Non-Tenure Faculty Coalition, IFT Local 6546.

“Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point in Memphis. We’ve got to see it through. And when we have our march, you need to be there. If it means leaving work, if it means leaving school—be there. Be concerned about your brother. You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go down together.”  On the evening of April 3, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood before a packed sanctuary at Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee. As a powerful storm raged outside, King exhorted the crowd to join him two days later for a march to support the city’s striking black sanitation workers. The members of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 1733 were on strike.
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Police Gun Violence: An Epidemic in America

By Salma El-Naggar

Salma El-Naggar is a sophomore at Uni High and a member of the student organization team for the local walkout and other social justice even

In the light of the recent Florida school shooting, gun violence has been one of the most talked-about topics in American news media, and America has realized that gun violence is a major issue.

Gun violence has been evident since the creation of this country. It didn’t just become an issue in 2018. We pushed it away and disregarded it as a problem until it spun out of control.

At the same time, police gun violence has recently reached its peak. Police officers are not held accountable for the lives they have taken, but instead are excused for it since they are doing their job. 99% of all the cases of police gun violence in 2015 did not result in any officer(s) being convicted for murder. In 2017, there were only 14 days when police did not kill someone. In 2018 police have killed 321 people. That means that at least three people every day have been killed by the police.
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Student Coalition Protests Gun Violence

By Annemily Hoganson, Anya Kaplan-Hartnett, Victoria Kindratenko and Emma Lowenstein.


Left to right: Annemily Hoganson is a junior at Uni High and an organizer of the CU-March For Our Lives. Anya Kaplan-Hartnett is a sophomore at Uni. Victoria Kindratenko is a junior at Uni; she volunteered at the CU-March For Our Lives. Emma Lowenstein is a junior at Uni. All four walked out on March 14, and were organizers of the April 20 school walkout/teach-in.

According to the Brady Campaign, on an average day in the US, seven children are killed by gun violence and 40 more are injured. Each year, around 110 kids are unintentionally killed by guns. According to a 2017 study from the American Academy of Pediatrics, 4.2% of kids under the age of 17 have witnessed a shooting in the past year. That’s 4.2% too many. That’s seven deaths, 40 injuries, 110 unintentional deaths too many.

We are a group of local high school students from Central, Centennial, Urbana, Uni, Saint Thomas More (STM), and Danville High Schools, who have united to fight gun violence. After the recent shooting at Parkland High School in Florida, we came together with a goal of ending gun violence in all forms, including police brutality and suicide.
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The Real War in Egypt: the Labor Struggle

By Janice Jayes

If you missed the exciting Presidential election news out of Egypt this past March, don’t be too hard on yourself: also missing it were 96 million Egyptians. Yes, a few Egyptians showed up at the polls for an exercise that faintly resembled an election, but the event was lacking a few key ingredients–like actual opposition candidates. Incumbent General-turned-President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi drove five contenders out of the race by arresting or threatening them, then allowed one opposition candidate (a member of al-Sisi’s campaign staff) to register just hours before the deadline. As expected, al-Sisi claimed a “landslide” victory with a Mubarak-esque 97% of the vote.
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GloHeart, A Displaced Lullaby: A Play on Immigration Asks Questions About Language

By Al Schneider

Al Schneider is a performance maker and theater researcher currently living in Urbana. Information about their work can be found here: alanddog.co.uk.

What are they doing here?

Dressed in plaid, blue jeans, a ball cap, and boots, a laid-off, Born-in-Beardstown, down-and-out sort scratches his head, and asks the questions we might be asking ourselves. Or maybe it’s our uncle who’s asking the questions, or our mother-in-law, our co-worker, or just somebody we heard on the nightly news. Whichever way, the protests of those who see themselves as suffering from the arrival of migrants to the United States—and central Illinois in particular—are not approached warily in Susan Parenti and Mark Enslin’s play on global and local immigration.

Rather, GloHeart, A Displaced Lullaby makes a point of provoking a conversation around immigration which is sticky and requires its audiences to remain thoughtfully present throughout. Based on the book Global Heartland: Displaced Labor, Transnational Lives, and Local Placemaking by University of Illinois Professor Faranak Miraftab, GloHeart takes its questions from Miraftab’s analysis of a meat processing plant in Beardstown, Illinois and its recruitment of migrant laborers. “What brings these diverse people to this part of the country?,” Miraftab asks in the introduction to her book. Pork slaughtering is neither easy nor pleasant work, and after Oscar Mayer closed in the 1980s over disputes with its unionized workers, the plant—subsequently under the ownership of Cargill, and now owned by JBS USA—was able to reopen without a union, and with far lower wages.
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Air Pollution in Champaign-Urbana

By Jacquelyn Potter

Why Should We be Concerned?

Our most immediate necessity for life is breathing.  It’s the process of taking in life-giving substances and releasing metabolic by-products; therefore, clean air is vital for survival.  It’s only when substances are introduced artificially that this process becomes degraded.  There are hundreds of air pollutants; some of the common types include: particulates from industry and agriculture that are linked to cardiopulmonary diseases, especially fine particles at 2.5 um (micrometers) or less; heavy metals such as lead, mercury, arsenic and chromium from power plants, industry and agriculture, known to cause brain damage, cancer, autism and birth defects; volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like toluene and benzene, formaldehyde, chloroform and methanol produced by industry and known to cause cancer, neurological, developmental, immune, cardiopulmonary, gastrointestinal and reproductive problems; phosphorus used in electronic, plastic and agriculture industries is linked to skin ulcers, renal malfunction and arteriosclerosis; and nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide produced in petrol and metal refining, power plants, vehicle exhaust and agriculture are linked to cardiopulmonary diseases.
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IMC Co-founder Danielle Chynoweth Wins McKinley Social Justice Award!

By Public i editors

Danielle Chynoweth, IMC co-founder and current Cunningham Township Supervisor, won a 2018 Social Justice Award from the McKinley Foundation. She donated the $500 award to the Public i. We extend our deepest gratitude to Danielle for supporting the Public i! At the awards dinner on April 7, she accepted the award and gave the below one-minute speech. Congratulations Danielle on all your amazing work to make CU a better community!

I only have one minute, but
she sleeps just down the street, in a storage unit,
and she calls one day to tell me how lonely she is.
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ICE on Main Street: Undocumented Immigrants Arrested in Urbana


When Juan showed up for work one morning at Siam Terrace on Main Street in downtown Urbana, two men were waiting for him in the parking lot. They were dressed in plainclothes, but wearing guns on their hips. They asked him his name and put him in handcuffs. Juan had lived in Urbana for eight years, but this was to be his last day. He was picked up by two agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and sent to a remote jail in Southern Illinois to await deportation proceedings.

A year ago, Urbana proclaimed itself a sanctuary city, but ICE agents are coming through town to sweep up local immigrants without challenge. We often hear in the news about ICE raids in big cities, or along the border. But in Midwestern towns like Champaign-Urbana, ICE is expanding its presence, a sign that the war on immigrants is intensifying under President Trump. Indeed, in 2017, arrests of undocumented people went up by 30 percent. According to obtained documents, last year ICE visited Champaign County on 28 different days, on some days going to several residences.
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