Chicago Troublemakers School Program - May 21, 2011

Morning Plenary: What Can We Learn From Wisconsin?

Peggy Coyne – President-Elect, Madison Teachers Inc.

Eric Cobb – Executive Director, Building Trades Council of South Central Wisconsin

Mark Brenner – Director, Labor Notes

Afternoon Plenary: We're All In This Together: Building Labor-Community Alliances

Karen Lewis – President, Chicago Teachers Union

Dennis Kosuth – National Nurses United

Artemio Arreola – Political Director, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

* Plenary sessions will include Spanish interpretation.


Understanding the Economic Crisis. Workers know better than anyone that our economy is still in free fall. Is the government looking to save Wall Street or save good jobs? This workshop will discuss how we got into this mess, what a real recovery plan would look like, why corporations are fighting it tooth and nail, and what labor needs to do in response. With Mark Brenner, Director of Labor Notes.

Rahmbo vs. the Unions: Advancing Labor’s Political Agenda in Chicago and Nationally. How can unions close the gap between what we put into elections and what comes out the other end? What kinds of political action make the labor movement stronger, and what leave us in worse shape? What does Rahm Emanuel’s election means for Chicago workers and unions, and how should union members respond? Robert Kelly, President, Amalgamated Transit Union 308; Jenn Johnson, Executive Board Member, Chicago Teachers Union; James Thindwa, In These Times and Association of Charter School Teachers* (*organization listed for identification purposes only)

Immigrant Workers and the Future of Labor. Hear about the struggles of immigrant labor since the mass May Day marches of 2006, current legislative and workplace threats, and labor strategies for defending and organizing immigrant workers. Workshop is bilingual English/Spanish.

Building Campus Coalitions. Hear how campus workers, students, and faculty are building coalitions to stop big-time budget cuts and corporate management at publicly funded universities. With Chuck Hendricks, Organizer, HERE Local 1; and Janina Ciezadlo, Vice President, Part Time Faculty Association (PFAC), Columbia College.

Contract Campaigns. Member mobilization, campaign escalation, creative tactics, community allies, and other building blocks of a good campaign. With Jess Cook and Matt Bourque, Graduate Employee Organization (GEO), University of Illinois at Chicago; Alex Castro and Jesse Hoyt, UIUC Undergraduate/Graduate Student Alliance; and Regina Russell, SEIU Local 73.

Public Employees, Public Services, and the Budget Squeeze. Hear how fighting unions have taken on layoffs, furloughs, privatization, and attacks on collective bargaining rights. With Jim Cavanaugh, President, South Central Federation of Labor (Madison, WI); Steve Edwards, President, AFSCME 2858; Martese Chism, Chief Steward, National Nurses United; and Jackson Potter, Staff Coordinator, Chicago Teachers Union.

Helping Workers Fight Discipline & Dismissal. Helping union members when they’re under the gun—interrogation meetings, early grievance steps, using the Family & Medical Leave Act. With Howard Ryan, Labor Notes.

101 Ways to Energize Your Local Union. How do you turn an underperforming local into an exciting organization that everyone wants to be part of? With Ellen Larrimore (President) and John Yaou (Vice President) of AFSCME Local 1989 at Northeastern Illinois University; and Karmen Lee Ortloff, AFSCME Council 31 Staff Representative.

Lights, Camera, Direct Action! Sometimes the grievance procedure isn’t enough. Through creative and successful direct action stories, you'll learn how to pick your target, figure out the pressure point, learn how to earn media coverage of your activities and build power. With Karmen Lee Ortloff, AFSCME Council 31 Staff Representative.

Immigrant Workers' Rights on the Job. The workplace has become a major battleground for immigration. Speakers will discuss both legal and organizing strategies to protect workers against retaliation— such as “no-match” letters, E-verify, ICE raids, and I-9 audits. With Fred Tsao, Policy Director, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights; and Gabriela Rivero, Member Organizer, Arise Chicago. Workshop is bilingual English/Spanish.

FBI Raids and Civil Liberty Threats: Labor’s Response. Last year, the FBI launched raids on labor activists involved in anti-war and solidarity work in Chicago and Minnesota. Panelists will talk about labor and the wars, and why international solidarity and opposition to US wars and repression at home have to be on the agenda for trade unionists. With Vince Emanuele, Iraq Vets Against the War;
Leah Fried, Organizer, United Electrical Workers; Tracy Molm, AFSCME Local 3800 (Minneapolis); and
Joe Iosbaker, Steward, SEIU Local 73.

A Good Offense. Even our most exciting actions (like the Wisconsin protests) are usually defensive. We can’t win big unless we can get on the offense. But where are the openings? We’ll discuss real-world strategies and militant tactics workers can use to hit the boardrooms, banks, and billionaires that are behind the economic collapse, budget crises, and attacks on unions. With Mark Meinster, United Electrical Workers; and Matthew Luskin, Chicago Teachers Union.

Defending Public Education Billionaires have plans for public education—data driven, remote control, and privatized. If educators are to save a school system that serves all students, we'll need to organize based on the common interests we share with students, parents, communities, and other public servants. Members of the Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators (CORE) present their vision for this fight. With Jim Cavallero, special education teacher at Chicago Academy High School; and Nate Goldbaum, a bilingual elementary school teacher who currently works full time for the Chicago Teachers Union.