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School of Labor & Employment Relations University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Robert Bruno

Professor & Director

Labor Education Program (Chicago)
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Rice Building, Suite 110, 815 W. Van Buren, Chicago, IL 60607

Education & Experience

PhD, Political Theory, New York University , 1994
Dissertation “Class Relations, Culture, and the Formation of Consciousness: Steelworkers in the Post WWII Era”
Labor Studies Certificate, Cornell University, 1994
MA, Political Science, Bowling Green State University, 1980
BA, Political Science, Ohio University, 1977

Formerly a U.S. history high school teacher, guidance counselor and site director for the UAW/General Motors Educational Project at Union County College

On Labor Education Program Students

“My students are all adults in the workforce, so the issues we address in the classroom are immediately relevant to their working lives. They demonstrate a keen interest in putting their learning into practice.”

On Believing

“I became a professor because I believe that it is the best way for me to act on behalf of working-class men and women. LER has a long standing and significant commitment to labor studies and the institutions that support collective bargaining.”

Research Interests

Union political action
Union strategic campaigns
The role of the union steward
Union governance
Quality of worklife issues
Working class culture and class/workplace conciousness
Media coverage of unions

Bruno’s research focuses broadly on working-class and union studies issues. He is the author of three books, Reforming the Chicago Teamsters: The Local 705 Story, Steelworker Alley: How Class Works in Youngstown and Justified by Work: Identity and the Meaning of Faith in Chicago’s Working-Class Churches. He has also published articles in such journals as Workplace Democracy, Labor Studies Journal, Labor History, Advances in Industrial and Labor Relations, Working USA and the Journal of Labor Research.

Bruno is the co-author and presenter of a labor play, “Illinois Labor Works,” and is a recipient of an Illinois Humanities Council grant. He is co-editor of Labor Studies Journal. He has taught numerous industrial relation courses to trade union members working in public, private, and professional occupations. Bruno hosts a cable show called Illinois Labor Works on a Chicago Public Access channel and is a frequent commentator on labor relations for both regional and national media. He is a member of the University Association of Labor Educators, the Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA), as well as an executive board member of the Chicago Chapter of LERA, and is co-chair of the Chicago Consortium for Working Class Studies.


Labor and Politics
Labor History
Labor and the American Cinema
Introduction and Advanced Steward Training
Collective Bargaining
The Culture of the Workplace
Gender, Identity and Work