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Video: The Future of Capitalism and the Future of Work

On May 4th, the Murphy Institute hosted a daylong conference to explore the ways in which structural changes in the labor market, skyrocketing inequality, and rapid technological innovation have sparked renewed debate and speculation about the future of capitalism and the future of work itself. Featuring leading scholars, journalists and activists’ perspectives on these issues, the day engaged three key debates:

  1. The impact of technological innovation, especially robots and artificial intelligence, on workers and on the labor market
  2. The vast increase in capacity for surveillance and data collection by high-tech firms and its implications for daily life as well as for the workplace
  3. The impact of the ecological crisis and the political failure to address it for the future of capitalism and the future of work.

Check out all three conversations below!

Part I:

Part II:

Part III:

Video: Reconstructing Economic Development for People and Planet: Stories of Just Economic Democracy

On Friday, May 11th,  in collaboration with Democracy @ Work New York, the Murphy Institute hosted a fascinating panel exploring how progressive local innovations stand to solve long-standing, seemingly intractable issues around poverty and inequality. Panelists included:

  • Michael Menser, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Brooklyn College, Earth and Environmental Science and Environmental Psychology at the CUNY Graduate Center, Chair of the Board of The Participatory Budgeting Project, and author of We Decide! Theories and Cases in Participatory Democracy
  • Gabriela Alvarez, Chef and founder of Liberation Cuisine, a catering company dedicated to preparing meals collectively with sustainable ingredients and practices. Alvarez recently took her passion for healing and organizing with food to Puerto Rico to help with relief and rebuilding efforts
  • Kali Akuno, co-founder and co-director of Cooperation Jackson, a network of cooperatives and worker-owned enterprises and the author of Jackson Rising: The Struggle for Economic Democracy and Black Self-Determination in Jackson, Mississippi
  • Yorman Nunez, Program Manager at Community Innovators Lab MIT and coordinator of Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative

Miss the panel or want to experience it again? Watch it here:

In New York City worker cooperatives, participatory budgeting, and community land trusts are on the policy platform of the City Council’s progressive caucus and elected officials in the democratic party are pushing legislation for employee and worker ownership at the state and federal levels. With greater visibility and support from the public sector some believe that these pilots and experiments for neighborhoods to drive wealth creation and capture and create equitable economic opportunities can reach into broad-based and mainstream policy.

There is an opening here to expand the horizon of what is seen as possible for genuine equitable urban economic development, and its relationship to labor, communities and the political economy. In short, we can change the conversation from mostly pushing for greater accountability and transparency in the existing economic development order, to a conversation about what should come next and what policies and institutions would be a part of getting us there.

 

New Labor Forum Highlights: May 14th, 2018

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.

The May 2018 issue of New Labor Forum is out. On the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, the journal features an article by Reuel Schiller measuring the magnitude of King’s loss in relation to the dissolution of the Poor People’s Movement he helped birth and the subsequent suspension in large-scale, multiracial organizing for economic justice.

Today may mark the beginning of the end of that long hiatus. As we send this newsletter off, The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, launches a nation-wide event including nonviolent moral direct actions in over 30 state capitals, and a series of similar actions that will take place over the next 40 days. This follows two years of meetings in communities throughout the country which led to a report, entitled “The Souls of Poor Folk: Auditing America 50 Years After the Poor People’s Campaign Challenged Racism, Poverty, the War Economy/Militarism and Our National Morality.” Those conversations in turn resulted in a Declaration of Fundamental Rights and Poor People’s Moral Agenda. We include here a profile of the campaign’s co-founder, the Reverend William Barber, by Jelani Cobb in the current issue of The New Yorker, as well as a report on the campaign that ran over NPR earlier this morning.

As the Poor People’s Campaign seeks to end the poverty that plagues approximately 40 million Americans, we would all do well to reassess the War on Poverty, declared by President Lyndon Johnson four years before Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination.  In a 2014 article for New Labor Forum, Frances Fox Piven argues that, contrary to accepted wisdom, that the War on Poverty was a largely victorious engagement which mobilized pressure from below reinforced by the Democratic Party’s need to shore up its dwindling political reach in the North, producing a measurable reduction in poverty over the next twenty years. Yet now, Piven notes, not only is poverty back, but the faces of poverty have changed. The most telling difference is that, when Michael Harrington wrote The Other America and Lyndon Johnson took up arms, poverty was thought to afflict people cut off from employment in the mainstream economy, like older people no longer working or those living in Appalachia or the country’s urban ghettos.  Today poverty has become, as it once was back in the 19th century, a function of exploitation at work (not mostly exclusion from work) so that somewhere between 30 and 40 million people make up what we call “the working poor.” And it is this changed nature of poverty that the new Poor People’s Campaign explicitly intends to address.

Table of Contents

  1. Mourning King: The Civil Rights Movement and the Fight for Economic Justice/ Reuel Schiller, New Labor Forum
  2. William Barber Takes on Poverty and Race in the Age of Trump/ Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker
  3. 50 Years Later, Reviving King’s Poor People’s Campaign/ Brakkton Booker, NPR Radio
  4. The Changing Faces of Poverty and Inequality: How We Once Came to Fight a War on Poverty/ Frances Fox Piven,  New Labor Forum
  5. The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival Portfolio/ JustSeeds Artists’ Cooperative
  6. Scholarship for Diversity in Labor Awards & Reception/ Joseph S. Murphy Institute

Photo credit: Department of the Interior. National Park Service(II). Region VI, National Capital Region. (1916 – 1933), Photographer – U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (Public Domain)

New Labor Forum Highlights: April 30th, 2018

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.

The wildly successful teachers’ strike in West Virginia earlier this spring has not only inspired walkouts in Oklahoma, Kentucky, Colorado and Arizona, but has managed to turn the tide in the all-important realm of public opinion.  According to a recent survey by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, a full 78 percent of Americans believe that teachers are underpaid. And remarkably, slightly more than half approve of teachers’ strikes to defend public education and protest low pay. Given the fact that members of teachers’ unions currently represent fully a quarter of all union members nationwide, this growing support for teachers holds extra importance.

Here, we offer a piece by New Labor Forum Editor-at-Large Steve Fraser, who examines the conditions that have caused red state teachers to shed the respectability and ambiguity of middle-class status to wage a working-class rebellion. And in a piece written for today’s newsletter, Chris Brooks suggests what teachers’ unions will have to do to keep up with a movement spurred by the rank-and-file, in defense not just of themselves, but also of the children and communities they serve. We also include an op-ed by Paul Krugman, who reveals how the tax cutting protocol of right-wing state governments has led to wage and benefit cuts for teachers and four-day school weeks and substandard conditions for students. And these circumstances, it seems, have finally caused the broader public to reject the conservative propensity to scapegoat teachers for the failures of a public education system plagued by unequal funding and fiscal austerity. We will continue to assess the lessons and inspiration this uprising offers a debilitated labor movement and political movements of the burgeoning resistance.

Table of Contents

  1. Teaching America a Lesson/ Steve Fraser, TomDispatch.com
  2. What Should Unions Do After The Strike Wave?/ Chris Brooks, New Labor Forum
  3. We Don’t Need No Education/ Paul Krugman, The New York Times
  4. Amid Strikes, Americans back teacher raises/ The Associated Press, NORC Center for Public Affairs Research

Photo by Charles Edward Miller via flickr (CC-BY-SA)

Event: The Future of Capitalism and the Future of Work (Watch Livestream)

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

Friday, May 4th, 2018, 9:30am-6:30pm
The Murphy Institute
25 W 43rd Street, 18th Floor
New York, NY, 10036 

RSVP HERE

Co-sponsored by The Murphy Institute’s Labor Studies Program, CUNY and The NYC Chapter of the Scholars Strategy Network

In recent years, structural changes in the labor market, skyrocketing inequality, and rapid technological innovation have sparked renewed debate and speculation about the future of capitalism and the future of work itself. This conference features leading scholars, journalists and activists’ perspectives on these issues.

The day is structured to engage three key debates:

  • The impact of technological innovation, especially robots and artificial intelligence, on workers and on the labor market
  • The vast increase in capacity for surveillance and data collection by high-tech firms and its implications for daily life as well as for the workplace
  • The impact of the ecological crisis and the political failure to address it for the future of capitalism and the future of work.

The conference has three panels, each devoted to one of these debates. Each panel includes one keynote presentation from an expert on the topic, comments from two respondents, followed by discussion with the audience.

The conference is free and open to the public. A light breakfast and lunch will be provided, and there will be a reception at the close of the proceedings. Continue reading Event: The Future of Capitalism and the Future of Work (Watch Livestream)