All posts by Murphy Institute

Getting To Know Elizabeth Hawes, 1903-1971

By Kitty Weiss Krupat

A brief profile of the American fashion designer, Elizabeth Hawes, appeared in T: The New York Times Style Magazine on Sunday, June 15. The essay, by Alice Gregory, is titled  The Most Brilliant Fashion Designer, and it starts this way:

Introducing Elizabeth Hawes: genius writer, wry cultural commentator, perverse humorist, gifted artist and truly modern thinker. You’ve never heard of her.

 Well, I, for one, have heard of her. She is the subject of my unfinished dissertation, and I agree.  She was all those things. More people should know about her, and not just because she was a pioneering fashion designer or a “premature” second-wave feminist. Elizabeth Hawes was a life-long socialist, an ardent anti-fascist, a labor advocate, and an intellectual who was always interested in issues of class. In her work, she combined aesthetic principles with political economy to produce a unique vision of fashion design.

Continue reading Getting To Know Elizabeth Hawes, 1903-1971

Thoughts on Union Structures, Labor History And Union Member Consciousness

By Nick Unger


“Insurgent movements are not the product of hard times; they are the product of insurgent cultures.” Lawrence Goodwyn, The Populist Moment

The generation that builds it really gets it; they were there. But what of those who come later? How do they get the word? This is not a problem unique to unions. Tribes, religions, nationalities and countries, gangs, armies and political groups, all need transmission structures, creation stories and rituals to solidify identity and make membership a cultural force.

Two rival acculturation paths: education/indoctrination and periodic upheaval. The Jesuits, the medieval guild and 19th century British education systems represent the institutional approach: “Give me a child until he is seven and I’ll give you the man.”   Building trades union apprenticeship programs are perhaps the best labor example of this approach to development of a distinct identity and culture. Continue reading Thoughts on Union Structures, Labor History And Union Member Consciousness

NYC Internship Program: Workplace Organizing Training

New York Communities for Change (NYCC) seeks candidates committed to social and economic justice who are currently living in the New York City area who are looking for organizing training and experience.
Through a paid entry-level internship program, NYCC provide training and education on organizing within key sectors of the largely non-unionized workforce. Participants will learn the fundamentals of a labor organizing campaign and develop skills to implement new models for building power and improving standards within a growing industry.
Applicants should be available to commit to 2-3 months to the program. Those with the following characteristics will be preferred:

  • Excellent interpersonal skills;
  • Willingness to be a team player;
  • Customer service and retail experience;
  • Bilingual English/Spanish; English/Chinese skills desirable.

How to apply:
To apply, please apply ASAP and submit resume HERE. For inquiries or to email your resume, submit to mclinton<at>nycommunities<dot>org and include “Organizing Internship” in the subject line. Applications must be received by 6PM EST on Wed, July 2nd, 2014.
New York Communities for Change is a coalition of working families in low and moderate income communities fighting for social and economic justice throughout New York State. By using direct action, legislative advocacy, and community organizing, NY Communities’ members work to impact the political and economic policies that directly affect us. Through neighborhood chapters and issue-based committees, we are working to ensure that every family throughout New York has access to quality schools, affordable housing, and good jobs. For more information, visit

US Labor Combating Environmental Injustices: Organizing Locally and Globally

By Eduardo Rosario

What is the history of the coalition between the labor movement and the environmental justice movement?  To answer that question, I looked at labor’s activities on environmental issues in three time periods: 1948 to 1972, 1973 to the 1990s, and the 1990s to the present.

The labor movement took the lead on many environmental concerns between 1948 and 1972, because of the space labor occupied and the resources it mustered.  Labor led the charge on such environmental concerns because the environmental justice movement was far smaller and did not command the level of resources labor possessed.  With the relative economic prosperity of this time period U.S. labor was able to be inclusive of broader social justice issues such as the environment.

In the second period after 1973, facing massive job losses, labor shifted its priorities away from broader social concerns like the environment and began to take a more concessionary posture in collective bargaining.  Economic pressures made union and non-union members alike feel vulnerable, and corporate America seized the opportunity.

Continue reading US Labor Combating Environmental Injustices: Organizing Locally and Globally

AFM Local 802 Director of Organizing and Field Services


Local 802 is the largest local union of professional musicians in the world. We represent musicians working in New York City, Sullivan, Nassau, and Suffolk counties, NY and parts of Connecticut. Our mission is to fight for the interests and well being of the musicians employed in New York’s music and entertainment industries through organizing and collective bargaining as well as through legislative and political action. The union represents under collective bargaining agreements Broadway theater musicians, off-Broadway theater musicians, symphonic musicians, recording musicians, club date musicians and others.

The position will involve supervising field staff in the single engagement industry (weddings, society functions), hotels, nightclubs and all non-symphonic freelance music. In addition, the position requires planning and supervision of organizing in all musical fields, working closely with the Recording Vice President. Areas of focus will include contract campaigns, internal organizing, new member organizing,as well as issue campaigns outside of traditional collective bargaining context. We are currently involved in a major campaign to unionize jazz, Latin and other music clubs in New York City.


  1. Work with the Recording Vice-President and leadership of the Union to plan and execute organizing strategy of the union.
  2. Work with the Recording Vice-President and leadership of the Union to plan and execute issue campaigns in the fields of Latin, jazz, rock and other freelance independent fields of music in order to achieve better conditions for all musicians in the greater New York City area.
  3. Manage and supervise organizers and field staff in Club Date, Hotel, Nightclub and Jazz, as well as staff in other departments on their organizing assignments.
  4. Work with an Administrative Assistant in contract administration and enforcement.
  5. Conduct or facilitate training of organizers as necessary.


  • Experience in union organizing campaigns including union elections and strategic campaigns.
  • At least two years of experience and demonstrated success and ability in providing direction and leadership to organizing and field staff with varied levels of experience.
  • At least two years Supervisory experience
  • Experience in developing and implementing a major campaign.
  • Experience in and/or knowledge of the music industry highly desirable, especially jazz and other live music genres.
  • The Director will be expected to assist the local’s Recording Vice President and other staff to coordinate the Union’s organizing efforts and to develop and implement long-term industry initiatives and campaigns.

Salary and Benefits:

Salary depending on experience.

Benefits include medical and pension.

Leaning In and Fighting Back

By Ella Mahony

Residents of Cambridge, MA often playfully call the city “The People’s Republic of Cambridge”, a tongue-in-cheek reference to its lefty politics and multicultural vibe. But the city is also well known for hosting a worldwide bastion of privilege and power, Harvard University. It is that paradox that is playing out right now at “Harvard’s Hotel”, the Hilton Doubletree Suites hotel owned by the university that lies only a mile away.

It is at the Doubletree that hotel workers have been organizing for a fair process to decide on a union with Unite-Here! Local 26, Boston’s hospitality and food service workers union. Leading the charge have been the female housekeepers that do most of the hotel’s drudge work, many of whom are immigrant women of color. They are fighting, among other things, for better insurance and a safer workplace, one where they are not expected to put their health at risk to turn over more rooms. Most importantly, they are fighting for respect and a chance for their work to be recognized. Continue reading Leaning In and Fighting Back