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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

RSVP HERE

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: defenddemocracyinbrazil@gmail.com

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)

New Labor Forum Highlights: Mar. 20th, 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.

In this issue, we’re looking at the explosion of what is being called ‘the resistance.’ The vast proliferation of organizing in the face of President Trump raises important questions Should partisans inside the Democratic Party wage a fight between its left and it’s center, or combine forces? Does the proliferation of new efforts represent genuinely innovative projects, or does it mask a great deal of overlap and wheel reinvention? Should the main target of organizing be Trump and the Republicans, or broader, systemic obstacles that include casino capitalism? Finally, what does it mean that the largest, most powerful progressive institutions  – such as organized labor – don’t seem to be at the forefront of this resistance?

Today’s issue includes a piece written for the newsletter by Tom Gallagher on the strategic options confronting the left within the Democratic Party; an article by Micah Uetricht  soon to appear in the May issue of New Labor Forum assessing the Sander’s inspired Our Revolution as well as various snapshots of what this resistance is looking like in the current moment, including the breaking news that a major local of the Service Employees International Union as well as a multitude of workers centers plan to participate in a May Day strike.

Table of Contents

  1. The Democratic Party Left After the Ellison DNC Campaign: Unite or Fight? By Thomas Gallagher
  2. The World Turned Upside Down: ‘Our Revolution,’ Trump Triumphant, and the Remaking of the Democratic Party by Micah Uetricht
  3. List of New Resistance Initiatives in 2017
  4. GroundGame listing of protests
  5. SEIU Local Joins May 1 General Strike by (BuzzFeed) Cora Lewis
  6. Indivisible Eldorado Hills Townhall meeting

Photo by Ted Eytan via flickr (CC-SA)

Livestream: The Resistance with Frances Fox Piven (3/23)

Thursday, March 23 | 6pm-8pm
Murphy Institute
25 W. 43 Street, 18th Floor
New York, NY

Can’t make it in person? Watch the livestream here:

Across the country, people are organizing in growing numbers. Who is participating? What kind of organizing is happening? Is this resistance different than what the world has seen before? What are the prospects of sustained resistance?

Join us for a discussion on the resistance with internationally renowned social scientist, scholar, and activist, Frances Fox Piven. She is a Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology, CUNY Graduate School, and Distinguished Lecturer in Labor Studies at the Murphy Institute, author and co-author of more than 200 articles published in academic journals, books, popular publications and journals of opinion since 1965. Her most recent book is Who’s Afraid of Frances Fox Piven? The Essential Writings of the Professor Glenn Beck Loves to Hate. Read more.