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Cities Are Embracing the Worst Idea to Come Out of Ferguson

This article was originally posted in Quartz.

By Basil Smikle Jr.

Earlier this week, Missouri governor Jay Nixon ended the curfew imposed on the community of Ferguson over the weekend. Residents had been required to be indoors between midnight and 5 am.

It’s not surprising but it’s one of many moves authorities got wrong in their reaction to riots over the shooting death of Michael Brown.

The toxicity of curfews in the St. Louis suburb sparked additional and perhaps retaliatory unrest. The governor’s decision to restrict the movement of Ferguson’s mostly black population exacerbated long-simmering anger toward law enforcement, roiled community leaders, and extended confrontations with residents. Establishing this curfew was only one of many missteps by a clearly overwhelmed police department.

And yet, alarmingly, the tactic itself is gaining acceptance in major American cities.
Continue reading Cities Are Embracing the Worst Idea to Come Out of Ferguson

What’s Next for NYU Graduate Students Union?

In a recent article published in Labor Notes, Natasha Raheja, a third-year PhD student in Anthropology at New York University and a member of GSOC-UAW, celebrates the recent win for NYU’s graduate students, who, she writes, “are poised to again become the only private sector student workers with a union contract in the U.S.”

She then challenges her union to go further than it has,

“calling for more transparency and for building strength through member participation. We want to revive our organizing committee, hold biweekly open member meetings, and send members regular detailed updates. We want to end closed-door negotiations without student workers present and promptly replace our three resigned bargaining committee members.”

She explores some of the recent internal issues she sees the union facing — including a narrow focus and a lack of democracy — before concluding that:

“As the first unionized graduate student workers at a private university in the United States, we at NYU have the opportunity to create a model, good or bad. A member-led contract victory will reverberate across the academic labor movement.”

Read Raheja’s full statement at Labor Notes.

Photo by Michael Gould-Wartofsky via Labor Notes

Developers and Labor Face Off at City Planning Commission Hearing

Labor and the city came together yesterday when the Astoria Cove development came up for public hearing at the NYC Department of City Council as part of the Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP). For those unfamiliar with the proposed development, Astoria Cove is Alma Realty’s 30-years-in-the-making development, with plans to build five mixed-use buildings in Hallets Point for a total of approximately 1,700 apartments, along with a bevy of retail stores — and it hasn’t been finding many allies.
Continue reading Developers and Labor Face Off at City Planning Commission Hearing

Responses to Nick Unger’s “Another Look at Labor in Dark Times – Part 3”

On July 3rd, we posted Part III of Nick Unger’s series on union structures, labor history and union member consciousness. What follows is a response to that piece.

From Martin Morand, Professor Emeritus, Industrial and Labor Relations, Indiana University of Pennsylvania:

Nick’s (rare?) compliment (“Morand is right”) encourages me to plunge in and ahead.

Yes, “The Wagner Act promise of ‘labor peace through collective bargaining’ rings hollow.” How come? Not just because, “….we stopped using the tools that worked” — the sit down and general strikes — but because Wagner Never gave us ANYTHING MORE than the right to say to the boss, a la Oliver Twist, “Please sir, may I have some more?” It never gave a union a contract nor a worker a dime — except where, backing it up, was the power and threat of a strike. We became seduced and addicted to a process, to recognition of our right to exist, to legitimacy. To nothing more substantive than that.
Continue reading Responses to Nick Unger’s “Another Look at Labor in Dark Times – Part 3”

DC37 Reaches Out About WTC Health Program

By Liam Lynch

In true labor-community partnership fashion, the DC 37 Safety and Health Department is using a federal grant to get the word out about the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program established by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010. This bill is designed to improve health services and provide financial compensation for 9/11 first responders and survivors. DC 37 is partnering with local businesses and organizations to make the city healthier for the many union members and New Yorkers affected. The poster outreach effort is led by New York Union Semester alum and current Murphy MA student Liam Lynch. Union Semester students will take part in a day of outreach during their orientation at the end of the August. If interested in joining us, stay tuned to the Facebook page.

DC 37’s Safety and Health Department is part of a federal initiative to conduct outreach for the WTC Health Program. When the federal government took over the program after the passage of the James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act of 2010, the Safety & Health Department received a federal grant to specifically conduct outreach about the existence of the program to their membership and AFSCME affiliates.

Thirteen years after the attacks of September 11th, the aftermath remains a major public health concern for responders and survivors. AFSCME members, who were among the first responders, are now experiencing illnesses related to their response work and are in need of quality healthcare for their 9/11-related health conditions. In the years after the attack, DC 37 — together with AFSCME’s Federal Government Affairs Department in Washington, DC — helped craft and lobby for the federal health program as part of its efforts to get Congress to approve the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010. DC 37 received a federal grant to inform responders and survivors of the health program, and created a website and Facebook page about it. Continue reading DC37 Reaches Out About WTC Health Program

Justices Deliver Latest Blow to Labor in Wisconsin

Yesterday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in a 5-2 decision that the much-reviled Act 10 does not violate the constitution. This law strips most public sector employees of their collective bargaining rights by “limit[ing] bargaining rights to issues only involving base wages, ban[ning] some government employers from automatically taking union fees from employee paychecks, and requir[ing] yearly recertification standards,” among other restrictions.

This decision came alongside a ruling requiring photo identification at the voting booth.

Photo by Gateway Technical College via flickr (CC-BY-NC-ND).