Why Labor and Campus Organizing Are Not a Zero Sum Game

This post originally appeared at Waging Nonviolence.

By Will Meyer

Popular left magazines have recently published articles that pit campus organizing against labor organizing. The broad stroke thinking by Amber A’Lee Frost in The Baffler and Freddie DeBoer in Jacobin suggests campus politics isn’t going to win material gains and that serious leftists should wage strategic labor battles as opposed to organizing students. While DeBoer does concede that organizing “absolutely should” happen on campus, he lists the pitfalls of student organizing — summer vacation, graduation, how busy students are and their need to get jobs, among other problems — to argue that campus organizing “isn’t going to work” as a movement’s primary organizing strategy. Frost, on the other hand, warns of rhetorical battles without demands that lack strategy and power. Her piece, titled “All Worked Up and Nowhere to Go,” paints a picture of academic writer-types bickering on Twitter and showing up to rallies that raise morale “but little else.”

This approach marks a stark contrast to that of the radical right, which — over the last generation — has weaponized campuses to serve their ideological agenda, dismantling public education using very effective organizing techniques. Continue reading Why Labor and Campus Organizing Are Not a Zero Sum Game

Sweden’s School Choice Disaster

By Dyckman Welcome

Data suggests that public education is most effective when parents, teachers, students and school administrators collaborate to focus on the individual needs of a child. A one-size-fits-all model of educating and measuring student achievement works well for some children, but leaves others desperately seeking public education alternatives.

One alternative to the current system of public education fueling political debate is the expansion of school choice through school voucher programs. According to supporters, implementation of voucher programs would create a market driven system that improves educational standards benefiting all of America’s children.  The problem is, the school voucher system has been implemented in other parts of the world, and failed, even as it appeared to initially succeed. Continue reading Sweden’s School Choice Disaster

Supreme Court Won’t Weigh in on Age Discrimination in Hiring Practices

Amid the shockwaves from the Supreme Court yesterday — in particular the decision to allow parts of President Trump’s travel ban to go into effect until the court hears arguments this fall — came a decision that got notably less attention. The court has decided not to hear a case involving age-discrimination, allowing a lower court ruling to stand. From a ProPublica article in March:

For the past half century, federal law has banned employers from discriminating against people based on their age. But since the early 1990s, corporate lawyers and conservative judges have sought to shrink what counts as discrimination, making it substantially harder to prove age bias. […]

The case involves an Atlanta man named Richard Villarreal, who applied online for a sales manager job with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in 2007 and heard nothing. When he applied in subsequent years, he had no better luck.

What Villarreal, who was 49 at the time of his first application, didn’t know was that Reynolds had retained a subcontractor to review the applications, supplying guidelines that led reviewers to discard his resume and those of almost 20,000 other older applicants. Of the roughly 1,000 sales managers the tobacco company hired between 2007 and 2010, when Villarreal was applying, fewer than a score were over the age of 40. After a whistleblower emerged in 2010, Villarreal sued.

The significance of the case is two-fold. It highlights the hurdles for job seekers as hiring has increasingly moved online, where it’s easier for companies to reject whole classes of applicants and harder for people to keep track of their bids for work. And it illustrates how age discrimination protections have been progressively narrowed. The tobacco company’s defense challenges decades of precedent for how the law has been interpreted and enforced. Continue reading Supreme Court Won’t Weigh in on Age Discrimination in Hiring Practices

New Labor Forum Highlights: June 26th, 2017

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 summer heats up, even those of us in the northern hemisphere can’t help but ponder the perils of climate change. This crisis should be a top issue for the U.S. labor movement. Yet unified action by organized labor to protect our planet remains constrained by narrow notions of worker self-interest and of solidarity, as well as by public policy that disregards the need for a “just transition” to sustainable energy. Today’s Highlights includes New Labor Forum columnist Sean Sweeney speaking at this year’s People’s Summit in Chicago, arguing for an independent worker’s voice on climate.

We’re also proud to call attention to Climate Solidarity: Workers vs. Warming, a brand new e-book by New Labor Forum Contributing Editor Jeremy Brecher. We have posted a chapter of the book to our website, and the entire book is available for free download. It’s full of insight regarding the practical and ideological obstacles to concerted work within unions to combat climate change, as well as strategic thinking on energizing labor’s climate protection work.

Committed climate activist Naomi Klein’s new book, No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need, notable in part for coming out so quickly after the elections, is reviewed by Hari Kunzru (The Guardian), and we include that here. The book is a clarion call for a politics that accentuates what movements are working towards, rather than what they merely oppose.

Lastly, we’re sharing an article from Wired by Nick Stockton about dogged legal efforts to delay and obstruct the Trump Administration’s environmental efforts.

Table of Contents

  1. Winning Clean Energy & Climate Justice for All / Sean Sweeney, New Labor Forum
  2. Climate Solidarity: Workers vs. Warming / Jeremy Brecher
  3. No Is Not Enough by Naomi Klein (Book Review) / Hari Kunzru, The Guardian  
  4. The Grizzled, Stubborn Lawyers Protecting the Environment From Trump / Nick Stockton, Wired Magazine 

Photo by Jonathan Potts via flickr (CC-BY-NC-ND)

New Labor Forum Highlights: June 12th, 2017

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 installment of Highlights from New Labor Forum, we draw your attention to a roundup of notable books and films you might have missed. We’re grateful to NLF contributor Matt Witt for his excellent curatorial skills, which are a regular feature of his “Out of the Mainstream” for the print journal! Among the books Witt points to in his forthcoming inventory is Look, an arresting book of poetry by Solmaz Sharif. Born in Istanbul to Iranian parents, Sharif is a former participant in Poetry for the People, and arts/activism program founded at UC Berkeley by the late, great poet June Jordan. The sampling of her work included here, offers precise and unforgettable depictions of the dread brought about by our wars on terror.

Table of Contents

  1. Out of the Mainstream: Books and Films You May Have Missed by Matt Witt / New Labor Forum, September 2017 issue
  2. Poems by Solmaz Sharif

Video: Gramsci’s Importance for the Left Today

This year’s Left Forum featured a panel exploring Antonio Gramsci’s work as a major critic of capitalism. Part of a series on major critical thinkers, the panel explored how engagement with Gramsci’s work can advance and sharpen left strategies and tactics in our times. Check it out below.

Featuring:

  • Laura Flanders, The Laura Flanders Show
  • Kate Crehan, Professor Emerita, College of Staten Island and the Graduate Center, City University of New York
  • Chris Hedges, columnist for Truthdig and host of On Contact
  • Richard D. Wolff, Democracy @ Work, Left Forum

A conversation about workers, communities and social justice

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