Nice Unions Finish Last — on the UAW’s recent defeat in Chattanooga



I have an op-ed in Al Jazeera America today on the United Auto Workers’ recent defeat at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. I wish I could take credit for the title, “Nice Unions Finish Last,” but alas, I cannot. Take a read.


Jacobin Radio Chicago First Episode, with Ben Joravsky


Jacobin has rolled out a new series of regional podcasts called Jacobin Radio. We have three shows: one covering Philadelphia, one in South Africa, and one in Chicago. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor and I are co-hosts for Jacobin Radio Chicago, and our first episode went live Friday.

In it, we give an overview of the state of the city of Chicago by interviewing Ben Joravsky, longtime columnist for Chicago’s alt-weekly newspaper the Chicago Reader. The conversation spans the tenures of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and former Mayor Richard M. Daley, the hard right turn of the Democratic Party in the city, the frenzied privatization of all things public, the Chicago Teachers Union, city financing schemes that take tax dollars away from city services and give them away to corporations, and the prospects for a challenge to Mayor Emanuel in the coming election.

You can listen to the podcast here, or subscribe on iTunes here. You can read the nice things Ben wrote about Keeanga and me here, and you can even listen to the segment of the podcast that aired on Southern California’s KPFK here.

On the Privatization Transparency Ordinance Rahm Emanuel Doesn’t Want to See Debated


I have a piece in Salon today about the proposed Privatization Transparency and Accountability Ordinance in Chicago, which would put a check on the kinds of privatization deals Chicago has become a leader in nationwide. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, however, does not want to see the ordinance debated publicly. Read it here

Is Fight for 15 for Real?


I organized a roundtable discussion on the Fight for 15 fast food strikers campaign with Chicago Whole Foods worker Trish Kahle, former SEIU staffer and author Jane McAlevey, and International Longshore and Warehouse Union organizing director Peter Olney. In it, the panelists discuss some of recent criticisms of the campaign as top-down and PR-driven. You can read it here

“It is so with all types of manual work; it keeps us alive, and we are oblivious of its existence.”


George Orwell wrote the following paragraph in 1937 about English miners in his book The Road to Wigan Pier. Its sentiment, however, could apply to any number of workers in any number of industries in any country at any time in recent history:

It is so with all types of manual work; it keeps us alive, and we are oblivious of its existence. More than anyone else, perhaps, the miner can stand as the type of manual worker, not only because his work is so exaggeratedly awful, but also because it is so vitally necessary and yet to remote from our experience, so invisible, as it were, that we are capable of forgetting it as we forget the blood in our veins. In a way it is even humiliating to watch coal miners working. It raises in you a momentary doubt about your own status as an ‘intellectual’ and a superior person generally. For it is brought home to you, at least while you are watching, that it is only because miners sweat their guts out that superior persons can remain superior. You and I and the editor of the Times Literary Supplement and the Nancy Poets and the Archbishop of Canterbury and Comrade X, author of ‘Marxism for Infants’–all of us really owe the comparative decency of our lives to poor drudges underground, blackened to the eyes, with their throats full of coal dust, driving their shovels forward with arms and belly muscles of steel.

Fast Food Strikes Hit a Record 58 Cities, As Campaign’s Tactics Are Debated


Fast food workers struck in 58 cities on Thursday. I followed Chicago strikers around throughout the day, and wrote about some of the debates over the campaign’s organizing tactics here.  


On Radio Dispatch, talking CPS


The Knefels, assumedly arguing over whether I am one of the greatest Radio Dispatch guests of all time, or THE greatest Radio Dispatch guest of all time.

I also appeared on Radio Dispatch with John and Molly Knefel, a wonderfully hilarious and multitalented sibling duo in Brooklyn, to discuss my Al Jazeera America article on the state of things in CPS. You can listen here.