Category Archives: Labor/Economics

The Case for Reparations: Champaign County

According to the Descendants Truth and Reconciliation Foundation, Black people in America own 10 cents of wealth for every dollar a white person owns, have lower life expectancies and higher unemployment, will earn $1 million less during their lifetimes, are … Continue reading

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Who is Un-American?

This article, commissioned for the Public i, appeared first in a longer version in Monthly Review on November 29, 2023, under the title “Gender, Labor, Democracy, and Americanism: U.S. History in the (Un)Making”; reprinted with permission. In the early hours of Monday, May 15, … Continue reading

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For Whom the Bell Tolls

For whom does the bell toll? These days it tolls for our children, gunned down in our streets and schools because of gun violence. And as if this were not enough, there are the child laborers among us and the … Continue reading

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UIUC GEO Wins a Progressive Contract

Graduate workers across the US have been hard-hit by the skyrocketing inflation induced by federal mismanagement of monetary policy that is being felt by all too many working-class people. The laughable wage increases that were “handed” to many low-paid workers … Continue reading

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Faculty and Staff Strike at Eastern Illinois University

Eastern Illinois University University Professionals of Illinois (EIU UPI, IFT Local 4100) members went on strike on April 6, after more than a year of fruitless bargaining, which forced faculty and staff to work without a contract since September, 2022. … Continue reading

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Growing Up “Unlucky”: Putting a Human Face on Bureau of Labor Statistics

Numerous options for employment abound in our small metropolitan area nestled amid the farmland of eastern central Illinois. From warehouses to food establishments to car repair shops, job seekers have many a choice for offering their time and effort. Yet, … Continue reading

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Graduate Employees Go Wild—For Unionization

Workers are on the move across America. Strikes rose by an astounding 50 percent between 2021 and 2022, and the pace of organization was equally impressive, with new fields of organizing opening in the service sector, the art world, and … Continue reading

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GEO at UIUC 10 Months into Contract Negotiations

As I write this, the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) Local 6300 is 10 months into the contract negotiating process with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign administration. So far there have been 19 bargaining sessions. The GEO presented its proposal … Continue reading

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Labor Abuse as Product Placement at the World Cup

The 2022 soccer World Cup began its takeover of global sports channels on November 20, transmitting endless images of cosmopolitan crowds enjoying the sparkling new stadiums of Qatar to audiences around the world. The country that hosts the World Cup … Continue reading

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A Time of Monsters: The New Nadir and the Crisis of the Black Worker

We currently reside in what Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci called “A Time of Monsters.” Exacerbated by the catastrophic COVID-19 pandemic, the Black working classes continue to struggle under what Black Studies scholar Sundiata Cha-Jua has dubbed “the New Nadir.” For … Continue reading

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The Value of Transaction Taxes on Financial Instruments

Financial transaction taxes (FTT) are an innovative system whose time has come again. There has been a narrow FTT in the UK since 1694, which raised $4.9 billion in 2020, and it hasn’t prevented the City of London from being … Continue reading

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I Love My Job, But . . .

The University of Illinois is part of the US land-grant university system. Each state has a land-grant university that operates a Cooperative Extension Service, which provides non-formal education to agricultural producers and communities in each county in Illinois. I work … Continue reading

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It’s Not a Labor Shortage, It’s a Workers’ Rights Shortage

The Great Uprising, the Great Resignation, even the unofficial General Strike: analysts and pundits—left, right and center—speak of mounting worker unrest in the US in awestruck terms. What these labels certainly do capture is the expansive scale of this unrest … Continue reading

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Anarchism and the American Labor Movement

Anarchists, proponents of “anti-authoritarian socialism,” seek to abolish the state and capitalism. Anarchism replaces authoritarian governance and private ownership of resources with federations of self-managed industries and communities in which those affected by decisions participate in making them directly in … Continue reading

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What Can we Learn from The Amazon Union Vote in Bessemer, Alabama?

During the past year, as the pandemic reshaped our daily lives, the media has paid more attention to work and workers than it has in a long time. The pandemic has shone a spotlight on the deep inequalities that persist … Continue reading

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The University and its Workers during the Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has affected universities all over the country and the world. Different institutions have chosen different approaches, from keeping all courses online and discouraging students from returning (Smith College, Harvard University, etc.) to a full opening of residential … Continue reading

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Governor Pritzker has the Power to Halt All Utility Shutoffs by Signing an Executive Order

Robin Brown’s utilities in Champaign were shut off by Ameren Illinois on September 18, 2020, in the midst of our historical COVID-19 pandemic. When asked about how utility shutoffs affected her, Brown said “I’ve had to give away and separate … Continue reading

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Disruptive Shift Changes for UIUC Custodial Staff

Jenni Walkup is a public anthropology MA student at American University who lives in Champaign. She works in education and writes about movements and social change. She’s very good at Bananagrams. In August, 2020, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of … Continue reading

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SEIU Statement Regarding the Changes in the Building Services Department at UIUC

The University decided in mid-spring that it would reopen for the 2020 fall semester, a decision that would require drastic, “emergency” changes in our department and to the working conditions of SEIU members. Management didn’t notify union leadership until July … Continue reading

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The Pandemic and Pro Wrestling

In the November, 2019 Public i, I wrote about one of the earliest gig economies: professional wrestling. There, independent pro wrestler David Starr discussed the incredibly imbalanced power dynamics of the corporate wrestling scene in America. While watching corporations and … Continue reading

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