Robert Bruno, PhD

Professor & Director
Labor Education Program (Chicago)
Portrait of Robert Bruno
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
Labor and Employment Policy

Robert Bruno is Director of the Labor Studies Program and a Professor of Labor and Employment, as well as the director of the Project for Middle Class Renewal in the School of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois, Urban-Champaign.  In addition to publishing numerous scholarly articles on a diverse range of labor relations subjects, Professor Bruno has also co-authored numerous research reports on labor unions, workplace practices and labor and employment policy topics.

He is also the author of five books; Steelworker Alley: How Class Works In Youngstown (1999), Reforming the Chicago Teamsters: The Story of Local 705 (2003), Justified by Work: The Meaning of Faith in Chicago’s Working-Class Churches (2008) and A Fight for the Soul of Public EducationThe Story of the Chicago Teachers Strike (co-author 2016), which was awarded the United Association for Labor Education Best Book award in 2017, and What Work Is (2024.)

Professor Bruno has given expert testimony to the US House Committee on Education and the Workforce, as well as the Illinois House and Senate Committees on Labor and Commerce.  He has also been a frequent commentator on labor relations for both regional and national media, and has served as a commentator for numerous newspapers.

Professor Bruno has taught many different labor relations courses, specializing in collective bargaining, labor history and American politics, as well as given numerous public presentations on labor relations.

He is the co-editor of Labor Studies Journal and is an executive board member of the United Association for Labor Education and Chicago Chapter of the Labor Employment Relations Association.


Labor and Politics
Labor History
Introduction and Advanced Steward Training
Collective Bargaining
LER 300: Workers, Unions, And Politics
LER 330: Comparative Labor Relations and Union Movements