All posts by Murphy Institute

25 Years Later: Lessons from the Organizers of Justice for Janitors

This article originally was originally published on TalkPoverty.

By Jono Shaffer & Stephen Lerner

On June 15, 1990, the Los Angeles Police Department viciously attacked immigrant janitors who were striking for the right to organize in Century City, Los Angeles. In a story that is now all too familiar, the police claimed they were defending themselves. Only later, when TV news footage exposed the police clubbing non-violent strikers, was the self-defense claim discredited. Two women miscarried, dozens were hospitalized, and 60 strikers and supporters were jailed.

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Continue reading 25 Years Later: Lessons from the Organizers of Justice for Janitors

Green Capitalism Won’t Work

This article was originally published in the Spring 2015 issue of New Labor Forum

By Sean Sweeney

For the last twenty years, unions in the United States and internationally have generally accepted the dominant discourse on climate policy, one that is grounded in assumptions that private markets will lead the “green transition,” reduce emissions, and stabilize the climate over the longer term. Indeed, unions began attending the climate negotiations convened by the United Nations in the early 1990s, a time when the “triumph of the market” went unchallenged and the climate debate was awash with neoliberal ideas. Unions, therefore, focused on articulating the need for “Just Transition” policies to deal with the negative impacts on employment brought about by climate policies and to highlight the need for income protection, re-employment opportunities, education and re-training, and job creation.1 Continue reading Green Capitalism Won’t Work

Graduate Class: Trade Unions and Social Movement Approaches to Climate Change and Ecological Degradation

The Labor Studies Program invites all CUNY and non‐CUNY graduate-level students to enroll in our special topics graduate class:

LABOR & ENVIRONMENT: Trade Unions and Social Movement Approaches to Climate Change and Ecological Degradation

Facilitated by Sean Sweeney

Thursdays, Aug. 27th to Dec. 17th, 2015 @ 6:15-8:45pm

The emergence of alarming scientific data on climate change, pollution and ecological degradation has triggered a rising wave of activism and organizing around environmental issues. A growing number of unions in the US and internationally are participating in the struggle to protect the environment – but many unions still view environmental protection as a threat to existing jobs in key sectors. The scientific reality has also forced labor and other social movements to debate and propose solutions to what amounts to a civilizational crisis.

This course will look at how the ecological crisis is expressing itself in the form of climate change and warming temperatures; growing water scarcity, toxic forms of agriculture, and other major challenges. It will look at how unions and movements are responding to the challenges at the level of organizing and policy. A key component of the course will involve looking at ‘big picture’ theoretical questions, including notions of ‘planetary limits’ and the capacity of the capitalist political economy to deliver a truly sustainable society in the coming decades. The course will also examine how social movements are asserting a new narrative based on democracy, transparency and sufficiency.

NOTE: This graduate course is open to all non-degree/non-matriculated students who already hold a Bachelor’s Degree. Current CUNY graduate students should register for the course via E-Permit @ CUNY Portal and pay tuition to their home college. Once a permit is approved and processed the course will appear on the tuition bill and your course schedule will be generated by the home college. For more information about registration and tuition and fees, please contact Irene.Garcia-Mathes@cuny.edu / 212-642-2050

Photo: “People’s Climate March 2014 NYC” via South Bend Voice

Special Topics Graduate Class: Worker Cooperatives

The Labor Studies Program invites all CUNY and non‐CUNY
graduate-level students to enroll in our special topics
graduate class:

WORKER COOPERATIVES

Facilitated by Immanuel Ness & Christopher Michael

Tuesdays, Sep. 1st to Dec. 22nd, 2015 from 6:15 to 8:45pm

Worker cooperatives have become a compelling alternative to traditional labor‐management forms of labor relations in the 21st century and with the rise of the Global Financial Crisis. The class examines worker control and cooperatives in comparative historical and geographic perspective. We will examine the historical experiences of worker cooperatives throughout the world, their successes, and challenges, and we will also focus on the growing world of worker owned cooperatives in New York City, examining the practical, economic and political aspects of their work. The class will make use of readings, film, and guest speakers with practical expertise in worker control and cooperatives.

NOTE: This graduate course is open to all non‐degree/non‐matriculated students who already hold a Bachelor’s Degree. Current CUNY graduate students should register for the course via E‐Permit @ CUNY Portal and pay tuition to their home college. Once a permit is approved and processed the course will appear on the tuition bill and your course schedule will be generated by the home college. For more information about registration and tuition and fees, please contact Irene.Garcia‐Mathes@cuny.edu / 212‐642‐2050

Photo: Sergey Galyonkin CC-BY-SA

Uberization and Its Discontents: The On-Demand Economy and the Future of Full-time Work

By Eric Levitz

Even at dinner, Rich Armstead stays on Task. An hour ago, the 32-year-old comedian finished assembling an IKEA bed for a woman in Brooklyn Heights. When he’s done with his cheeseburger, he’ll follow the waitress back into the kitchen of this Chelsea pub, and fix the sink’s leaking drainpipe.

“It’s a hustle, for sure,” he says, scanning his smartphone for future gigs.

Armstead is one of over 30,000 workers who sell their labor via TaskRabbit, an online marketplace where consumers can find a “Tasker” for any small job, from waiting in line to wedding photography. The platform is itself just one of a growing number of all-purpose service apps, including Handy, Fiverr, and Needto, which together make up only one sector of the ever-expanding “on-demand economy.” Continue reading Uberization and Its Discontents: The On-Demand Economy and the Future of Full-time Work