New Labor Forum Highlights: Nov 27th, 2017

The New Labor Forum has 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.

We are currently marking the 20th year of publication of New Labor Forum. At first glance, the conditions in which we find ourselves today seem a far cry from those that gave birth to New Labor Forum twenty years ago. The journal’s inaugural editorial statement, back in the fall of 1997, began by declaring, “This is a time of hope,” a mood that then felt palpable among labor activists. In the wake of the AFL-CIO’s first ever contested elections in 1995, the New Voice leadership at the federation had proclaimed its commitment to large-scale union organizing and ambitious coalition building with social justice organizations that had also been in decline since the late seventies, but would be essential to resuscitating a movement. At the same time, organized labor began to engage in a rapprochement with and spurred by left intellectuals and progressive political activists who had for decades been excluded from the AFL-CIO’s strategic discussions. All these efforts gave rise to widespread hopes that organized labor might also help fuel a broader, national movement for social and economic justice.

Yet, even in those days, there was a keen sense that the revitalization of the labor movement and the building of working-class political power would be a tough row to hoe. In that same editorial statement of 1997, we acknowledged, “The journal is both a response to this new optimism and a recognition of the difficulties that lie ahead.” The journal therefore went on, for the next two decades, to debate and discuss the thorniest questions at the heart of the hoped for, yet still allusive, revitalization of the labor movement. Those issues included: the financialization of the economy, the dramatic growth of low wage service and precarious work, the decline of strikes, the rise of union busting, burgeoning rates of incarceration,  debates about race and class, immigration policy, feminism and the labor movement, the movement for LGBTQ rights, union democracy and union structure, labor’s marriage to the Democratic Party, labor’s relationship to wars without end, to Occupy Wall Street, and Black Lives Matter, two waves of health care reform, and the climate change crisis. In this installment of our newsletter we offer three such debates we have hosted over the years, and an invitation to you to attend our
20th Anniversary Event on December 8, 2017, 5:30 p.m. at The Murphy Institute.

Table of Contents

  1. Open Borders Debate/ Dan La Botz/ Ana Avendaño
  2. “Identity Politics” Debate/ Walter Benn Michaels/ Alethia Jones
  3. New Voting DemographicsG. Cristina Mora & Michael Rodríguez-Muñiz/ Richard Alba
  4. New Labor Forum 20th Anniversary Event/ The Murphy Institute

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