All posts by Murphy Institute

Diversity Scholarship: Spring 2017 Symposium

By Janet Leslie

On Tuesday, February 28, 2017, the Murphy Institute hosted the Joseph S. Murphy Scholarship for Diversity in Labor Spring 2017 Scholar Symposium. Michelle Akyempong, Vice President of Legislation & Political Action for District Council 37, Local 371 attended as this term’s special guest.

Since the inception of the Joseph S. Murphy Scholarship program, symposiums have been held at the start of each Fall and Spring term, allowing the program’s budding scholars to interact with practitioners, researchers and scholars in the fields of labor and urban studies.

To this end, we invite prominent members of these fields to join us for a roundtable talk, where they share reflections about their personal challenges and conquests on their educational and/or professional journeys. Past guests have included: Kitty Krupat, labor activist, organizer and associate director, emeritus JSMI; James Steele, labor studies adjunct faculty JSMI; and Ydanis Rodriguez, district 10 – NYC council member. We thank each of the past presenters who have truly inspired us to our better selves and willingly and generously shared their time with our scholars. Continue reading Diversity Scholarship: Spring 2017 Symposium

Taking a Systems Approach to Social Impact

By Rebecca Lurie

In a recent paper on the Pinkerton Foundation website, Steve Dawson describes how social purposes business can accomplish business growth and social impact:

In a burst of entrepreneurial spirit, the workforce development field is showing new enthusiasm for an old idea: creating “social enterprises” to employ low-income jobseekers.

The theory is enormously appealing. We can create good jobs for constituents who have a hard time finding work elsewhere and the profits will help fund our nonprofit organizations. The reality, however, is far more complicated.

He then draws out a series of recommendations for business. I would punctuate one aspect of what he recommends to draw together the best practices of workforce development and business development for a social purpose:

Even more powerful is a ‘systems strategy’ that leverages change, beyond the walls of the enterprise, into the broader labor market.

When we go into the business of a social enterprise for social impact, we are aiming to improve the lives of the workers and the people in the community where the business exists. By systems thinking, we think yet broader than the labor market strategy and pay attention to the community where the industry exists. Continue reading Taking a Systems Approach to Social Impact

Event: Dilma Rousseff: The Attack on Democracy & Human Rights in Brazil (4/14)

Friday, April 14th | 6:30pm
Murphy Institute
25 W. 43 Street, 18th Floor
New York, NY


CUNY’s Murphy Institute is pleased to host a presentation by Dilma Rousseff, former President of Brazil, co-organized with the Committee Defend Democracy in Brazil/New York.

Brazil’s former president, Rousseff − impeached in August 2016 in what many have called a “soft coup” based on what analysts almost universally have described as minor and highly irregular charges − will discuss the attack on, and current efforts to defend, democracy, labor rights, and social and economic justice in Brazil.

Brazil, whose young democracy was re-established in 1985 after 21 years of violent military rule, has achieved huge growth in the recent years, lifting 45 million people out of extreme poverty. Under the democratic leadership of the Workers’ Party, led initially by President Lula da Silva and subsequently by President Rousseff, Brazil saw dramatic changes towards a more equal society. Advancements under the Workers Party have included an enormous expansion of the middle class, steady increases in life expectancy, and the country’s removal in 2014 from the UN Map of Hunger.  Rousseff is currently undertaking an international tour to discuss with concerned people throughout the world what is at stake: Brazilian democracy, and the historic gains in the rights of workers, women, minorities, the LGBTQ community, communities of color and of the poor.

This event will also feature a photo exhibition highlighting important moments of the struggle from activist groups around the world.

Please join us for this historic event!

Press registration/inquiries:

Prof. Elena Conte on Sheridan Expressway in NYTimes

As plans develop to tear down the Bronx’s Sheridan Expressway, many residents and local politicians look forward to the possibility of a safer roadway, lower pollution rates and more riverfront access. In an article this week in the NYTimes, Patrick McGeehan describes some of the issues with the existing expressway:

“The Sheridan Expressway was Robert Moses at his worst,” said Mitchell Moss, director of the New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management.

Large trucks still use the expressway to get to and from the produce market at Hunts Point. But those trucks exit the Sheridan and rumble through local streets to reach the market.

David R. Shuffler, a community activist, lives on one of those streets and said he feared for the safety of his 1-year-old son. “I hear trucks barreling through my street every single night and all day long,” said Mr. Shuffler, who is the executive director of Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice.

But Murphy Institute Adjunct Professor Elena Conte cautions about too much excitement for the plan while details remain hazy:

“It’s an encouraging start, and a lot of very important details need to be worked out,” Ms. Conte said.

“To the extent that the proposal the governor is investing in seeks to address the legacy of Robert Moses’ top-down planning, it is a visionary step forward,” Ms. Conte said. ”If Governor Cuomo wants credit for undoing the legacy of Robert Moses in the South Bronx, he will do that not just by making physical changes but also by listening to a community that Moses pointedly ignored.”

For the full article, visit the NYTimes.

Photo by Doug Kerr via flickr (CC-BY-SA)

SumOfUs Seeks Temporary Campaigns Consultant

About Us

SumOfUs is a global movement of consumers, investors, and workers standing together to hold corporations accountable for their actions and forge a new, sustainable and just path for our global economy. SumOfUs has mobilized over 12 million people to take part in more than 50 million collective actions. Through building partnerships, SumOfUs follows the lead of on-the-ground activists and organizers. We hold the biggest corporations in the world (and their political allies) to account by mobilising millions of people to take collective action.

Expressions of interest

SumOfUs is seeking a proposal from an independent campaigns consultant or consulting firm in the United States. We will accept proposal on a rolling basis until the position is filled.

Email with expressions of interest, or any questions about the position. Please tell us how your expertise will help you kick ass at the job deliverables (outlined below), and pitch us 1-2 ideas for campaigns to effectively curb the power of corporations under Trump’s administration including specific tactics for those campaigns.

Please include your quote for an all-inclusive consulting fee.

Starting Date: As soon as possible

Duration of Initial Contract: Initial contract for 3 months (estimated 2-3 days per week), with potential for extension.

The consultant will advise on the following five deliverables:

  1. Research and advise on campaign strategy for SumOfUs to target corporations around the world with a particular focus on tackling the nexus of corporate power under the Trump administration.
  2. Draft and set up copy for SumOfUs to email our members with strategic actions and a compelling narrative of holding corporate power accountable;
  3. Work with our US campaigns team to facilitate connections between SumOfUs and partners in the United States;
  4. Develop and implement strategic tactics for SumOfUs to win campaigns and build our movement.  The focus of work will be in the United States, with occasional work on Canadian and global campaign issues.
  5. Support SumOfUs to grow, engage and raise funds from our United States membership.

The ideal consultant will have demonstrated experience in serving clients like SumOfUs, such as advising nonprofit organizations on digital campaign strategy.

Fast Food Justice Seeks Lead Organizer (NYC)

Fast Food Justice, a new model of worker and community empowerment, is launching operations throughout NYC. We have an opportunity for an experienced lead organizer to join our campaign and help build a platform for fast food workers and their communities.

Reporting to the Executive Director, the Lead Organizer will oversee a team of organizers and develop programs to engage thousands of fast food workers across the industry in NYC.

Responsibilities include:

  • Work with fast food workers and community members to enforce New York City and state legislation that improves industry working conditions;
  • Develop and train organizing staff;
  • Identify and develop worker and community leaders;
  • Plan and run meetings of workers and community members;
  • Move thousands of fast food workers and community members to become involved.

Requirements include:

  • An in-depth understanding of organizing based on prior work experience;
  • Three to five years of organizing experience, including experience leading a team of organizers;
  • The ability and willingness to travel, and to work long hours, including weekend work as needed;
  • Strong and effective verbal communication and presentation skills;
  • Advanced writing and computer skills;
  • Strong interpersonal skills;
  • Experience and ability to work with people from diverse backgrounds;
  • A car and a valid driver’s license;

— Fluency in a second language — Spanish, Bengali or Haitian Creole — preferred.

— Fast Food Justice offers a competitive salary and a benefits package.

— People of color and women are strongly encouraged to apply.

Qualified candidates may send a letter explaining their interest and resume to