Belabored Podcast #159: Fight or Die, with Barbara Madeloni and Celeste Robinson

Belabored Podcast #159: Fight or Die, with Barbara Madeloni and Celeste Robinson

Workers in St. Paul, Minnesota are seeking to build on a major Fight for 15 victory in neighboring Minneapolis. Plus: An update on the teacher strike wave.

A Fight for $15 protest outside McDonald’s in St. Paul, Minnesota, 2016 (Wikimedia Commons/ Fibonacci Blue)
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For this post–Labor Day episode, we go back to school with longtime teacher union activist Barbara Madeloni, exploring the picket lines that have been paving the way to the schoolhouse gates around the country. And we go to a struggle for the heart of labor in the heartland, with Celeste Robinson of the Fifteen Now Minnesota campaign, to discuss how a struggle for a fair wage is galvanizing the Twin Cities.

In other news, we look at workers in China who don’t care about Trump’s trade war, but are sparking a class war on the factory floor and an initiative to organize graduate researchers in Illinois. With recommended reading on the future not of work, but of workers, and the power of a prison strike. Finally, we leave you with a picket line song from Washington state teachers, “It’s All About Fair Wages.”

This week’s show was supported by our monthly sustaining members. If you think our work is worth supporting as we soldier on through Trumplandia, please consider becoming a member today. If you’re interested in advertising on the show, please email And as always, if you have any questions, comments, or tips, email us at


Michelle: China’s Workers Aren’t Fighting a Trade War—They’re Fighting a Labor War (The Nation)

Barbara Madeloni and Samantha Winslow, Teachers Carry Strike Spirit into New School Year (Labor Notes)

Sarah: Writing the Unions’ ‘Fight-or-Die Survival Chapter’ (New York Times)

Rauner vetoes bill allowing university research assistants to join unions (The News-Gazette)

Graduate Employees’ Organization at UIUC


Celeste Robinson, co-director of 15 Now Minnesota

Citizens League outlines three $15 minimum wage scenarios for St. Paul, with and without tip credits (Twin Cities Pioneer Press)

Carl Nadler, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, UC Berkeley

The New Wave of Local Minimum Wage Policies: Evidence from Six Cities (IRLE)

Argh, I Wish I’d Written That!

Sarah: Kim Kelly, How the Ongoing Prison Strike is Connected to the Labor Movement (Teen Vogue)

Michelle: Sarita Gupta, Stephen Lerner, & Joseph A. McCartin, It’s Not the “Future of Work,” It’s the Future of Workers That’s in Doubt (American Prospect)

tote | University of California Press Lima