New Labor Forum Highlights: June 27th, 2016

The New Labor Forum has launched a bi-weekly newsletter on current topics in labor, curated by the some of the most insightful scholars and activists in the labor world today. Check out some highlights from the latest edition below.

With this newsletter, we offer commentary and labor news on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s blockbuster musical, Hamilton. Haven’t seen it? Odds are most of you haven’t, but that won’t stop anyone from having an opinion of Miranda’s lyrical prowess and its ‘true’ political meaning. We’ll begin with a clip of Miranda performing Hamilton Mixtape at the White House back in 2009, when the show was still being written.

Donatella Galella and James McMaster both offer critiques that capture a central dilemma: while Hamilton exalts the working-class origins and anti-slavery sympathies of its central character, it also elides Hamilton’s anti-democratic views and Wall Street founding role and furthers the immigration myth of a lone hero overcoming all odds by his exceptionalism and hard work. It was recently announced that the cast of Hamilton will host a special show for the Clinton campaign, as part of a commitment to fighting Republican nominee Donald Trump. It’s ironic, since Trump could likely stand behind most of the political messages present in the musical. Since we thought it would be of particular interest to our subscribers, we’re also including an article from the New York Times by Michael Paulson about recent labor negotiations between the show’s producers and the cast over profit sharing.

Finally, we include a review by Sherry Linkon of two recent plays with working-class characters and conflict at their center: Lynn Nottage’s Sweat and Morisseau’s Skeleton Crew Both plays depict‘tenuousness of solidarity, the persistence of divisions around race and class, and the injuries of economic insecurity’, and serve as a reminder that workers and their experiences matter.


  1. Video: Lin-Manuel Miranda Performs at the White House Poetry Jam
  2. Racializing the American Revolution Review of the Broadway Musical Hamilton/ Donatella Galella
  3. Why Hamilton is Not the Revolution You Think it is/ James McMaster
  4. ‘Hamilton’ Producers and Actors Reach Deal on Sharing Profits/ Michael Paulson, NYT
  5. Review of 2 plays: Lynn Nottage’s Sweat and Morisseau’s Skeleton Crew/ Sherry Linkon

Photo by Joe Shlabotnik via flickr (CC-BY-NC-SA)

Orlando Vigil at Stonewall Inn: Photos

This post was originally featured at Philadelphia Printworks.

By Zenzile Greene-Daniel

I arrived at the Stonewall Inn candlelight vigil in honor of those slain in Orlando just a few minutes before it began. The photos I have taken capture the silent reverence of those attending, the solemn yet hopeful messages that decorated the shrine and those bringing offerings and tending to the candle lighting which surrounded the perimeter of the shrine in front of Stonewall Inn as well as inside Christopher Street Park.

Continue reading Orlando Vigil at Stonewall Inn: Photos

Fall Undergraduate Class: Labor and the Climate Crisis

This course is open to interested students, labor and climate activists with at least a High School Diploma or GED. Students can email or call 212-642-2011 for more information about registration and fees.

Taught by Lara Skinner, Ph.D.

URB451 Special Topics in Urban Studies – Labor and the Climate Crisis
Wednesdays 6:15 – 9:35 pm @ Cornell Conference Center

How can the labor movement and others best respond to the climate crisis? How can unions work to protect both the environment and good jobs? This class will give students a foundation in the scientific, social, and political aspects of the looming crisis. Students will explore how they can more effectively engage their unions, movement activism, and scholarship in efforts to protect the environment and our future.

Instructor: Lara Skinner, Ph.D., Associate Director of The Worker Institute at Cornell and Co-Chair of the Institute’s Labor Leading on Climate Initiative. Skinner has worked for unions doing campaign research and policy development since 1999. She began her career in labor working with Oregon’s Farmworkers Union (Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste) and as an active member of the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation, Local 3544. Skinner’s current research, writing, and labor education work focuses on increasing the role of unions and working people in addressing the environmental and climate crises and building a powerful, inclusive movement for climate and economic justice.

Registration for the class will open soon! Students must register through CUNYFirst. For more information on registering using CUNYFirst, call Orson Barzola at 212-340-2871. Registration is on a first-come basis, and is limited to 25 students.

Photo by Joe Brusky via flickr (CC-BY-NC)

New Book from Prof. Michael Fortner: Urban Citizenship and American Democracy

Michael Javen Fortner, Assistant Professor and Academic Director of Urban Studies at the Murphy Institute and author of the sensational “Black Silent Majority: The Rockefeller Drug Laws and the Politics of Punishment,” has released a new book: “Urban Citizenship and American Democracy,” co-edited by Amy Bridges:

After decades of being defined by crisis and limitations, cities are popular again as destinations for people and businesses, and as subjects of scholarly study. “Urban Citizenship and American Democracy” contributes to this new scholarship by exploring the origins and dynamics of urban citizenship in the United States. Written by both urban and nonurban scholars using a variety of methodological approaches, the book examines urban citizenship within particular historical, social, and policy contexts, including issues of political participation, public school engagement, and crime policy development. Contributors focus on enduring questions about urban political power, local government, and civic engagement to offer fresh theoretical and empirical accounts of city politics and policy, federalism, and American democracy.

Visit SUNY Press for more information or to pre-order your copy.

New Labor Forum Highlights: June 13th, 2016

The New Labor Forum has launched a bi-weekly newsletter on current topics in labor, curated by the some of the most insightful scholars and activists in the labor world today. Check out some highlights from the latest edition below.

As of this writing, the the Presidential Primary season is in effect over; we know that Hillary Clinton will be the nominee and that she will face Donald Trump in the general. But the fascination with the Bernie Sanders campaign continues, as detailed by Bob Master, Political Director for Region 1 of the Communication Workers of America, writing about the lessons the labor movement can learn.

To discuss the future prospects of the movement inspired by the Sanders campaign, thousands of unionists and progressives will gather in Chicago this weekend at The People’s Summit. The Murphy Institute’s Sean Sweeney will be speaking on energy democracy and climate justice, and New Labor Forum’s Charles Lenchner will be moderating a panel on the future of democratic socialism.

Other progressives, most notably Senator Elizabeth Warren, are now attempting to make the case for Hillary Clinton to Sanders supporters. We include here such an argument by The Nation’s David Cole in defense of Clinton’s incrementalism.

Finally, Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times offers a detailed analysis of what Sanders hopes to achieve by staying in the race.


  1. Bernie Sanders, Labor, Ideology and the Future of American Politics by Bob Master
  2. The People’s Summit by Charles Lenchner
  3. The Progressive Case for Hillary Clinton’s Incrementalism by David Cole
  4. Isn’t the Primary Over? Why Bernie Sanders Won’t Quit, by Nicholas Confessore

Photo by Gage Skidmore via flickr (CC-BY-SA)

Worker/Artists at The 32BJ Art Show

This weekend, the 9th annual 32BJ Art show displayed a variety of artwork from its 32BJ and 1199 members, including city and office building workers alike. The work featured paintings, sketches and a live show, which included singing, poetry and performance art.

Read more about this amazing event, which connected worker/artists with a supportive platform. This display of art in various mediums emphasizes the importance of labor/arts events such as this one: they open up possibilities and lift up cultural production in the lives of city and office workers.

A conversation about workers, communities and social justice

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