Kraig grew up in Oak Park, Illinois, and has lived in Wisconsin since 1989.
Kraig earned a Ph.D. in Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh in political science and an M.A. from the University of Georgia in communication.
He came to Citizen Action from the start-up organization One Wisconsin Now, where he was the Policy Director in 2006. At the One Wisconsin Now, he helped develop innovative new approaches to integrating communication and policy work with grassroots organizing. He also played a leading role in devising and implementing strategies that made health care reform the top issue in the 2006 elections. From 1999-2005 he was the Wisconsin State Political Director for Service Employees International Union, where he was responsible for managing the union’s state electoral, public policy, and communications programs.
PDA across Wisconsin
Friday, November 2nd they hosted a guided discussion at the the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals offices in Milwaukee, moderated by John Nichols (The Nation , MSNBC Contributor). Guest speakers included: PDA's National Director Tim Carpenter, NNU's Director of Public Policy Michael Lighty, Communist Party USA member Judith LeBlanc from Peace Action, and Dr. Robert Kraig from Citizen Action of Wisconsin.
Lighty and Carpenter joined with author/commentator Jim Hightower at the UAW Local 95 Hall in Janesville Saturday November 3rd, 11 am to 1 pm. Rob Zerban--who was challenging Paul Ryan in Wisconsin's 1st District--and John Nichols also appeared. Then, from 2:30 to 3:30 pm. Carpenter and Lighty appeared in Madison, WI, with Mark Pocan, Congressional Candidate in Wisconsin's 2nd District, one of the leaders of the Wisconsin walkout. All three Wisconsin events also sought to help Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, win her close race for the U.S. Senate.
Patrick Zastrow was among more than 200 Colectivo Coffee workers who voted in March 2021 on whether to have a union represent employees at the chain’s 20 coffee shops in Madison, Milwaukee and Chicago, along with those working at its production facility, bakery and warehouse.
Wisconsin labor activists consider the episode an object lesson in the need for the Protect the Right to Organize Act — the PRO Act — which would provide the strongest reinforcement of labor rights since the National Labor Relations Act was passed in the Great Depression.
“There’s a realization … that this is a big social justice and social movement issue,” said Robert Kraig, executive director of Wisconsin Citizen Action, at a news conference April 26 2021 outside the Capitol called by his organization and the Wisconsin AFL-CIO.
Making it easier for workers to form unions would raise incomes and expand benefits, said Kraig. “It would have the biggest impact on African American workers, Latinx workers, women, because they are the ones that are in the professions [that] do not get a living wage job, and they don’t get good benefits.”
One provision of the PRO Act would ban employers from requiring workers to attend so-called captive audience meetings, such as Zastrow described at Colectivo, which are common when employers campaign to block unionization.
Zastrow, who spoke at the news conference, said the anti-union consultant would claim to workers “that we would be better off representing ourselves to ask for raises, increased benefits and better working conditions — something that many of us had tried already.”
“We want to make sure that people have dignity on the job and that they have respect,” said Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Stephanie Bloomingdale. “And that when they want to form a union, they ought to be able to do that free of intimidation, free of these shady union busters coming in making millions and millions of dollars on breaking the will of workers who are simply coming together to have a voice in their workplaces.” Originally passed in the South, “so-called ‘right to work’ laws are divisive and racist in their origins and intentions,” said Bill Franks, who chairs the Labor and Industry Committee of the Dane County NAACP. “The PRO Act is more than labor law reform — it is civil rights legislation. A union contract is the single best tool we have to close to close racial and gender wage gaps and to ensure dignity and due process for workers, regardless of where they were born, of who they are, and what industry they work in.”
Monday’s news conference was directed at increasing awareness of the legislation. It was also held to publicize a resolution that Democrats in the state Legislature have drafted for lawmakers to declare their support for the PRO Act.
Authors of the resolution, Rep. Chris Sinicki (D-Milwaukee) and Sen. Bob Wirch (D-Somers) began circulating a draft of the resolution seeking signatures from other lawmakers. Most of the Democrats in both houses have signed on. While Republican support would appear to be unlikely, Bloomingdale, along with Sinicki and Sen. Janis Ringhand (D-Evansville), who also took part in Monday’s news conference, said they would welcome any that they might get.
“It’s time that we as Wisconsinites got back to our progressive roots,” Sinicki said. “It’s time that we remember that this state in this nation was built on the backs of labor.”