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Murphy Report in NYTimes: Retail Workers and Unions

This week, the NYTimes ran a story by Rachel L. Swarns showing the stark differences in labor conditions for unionized vs non-unionized retail workers.  In an article that will come as no surprise to those who have been following labor struggles among retail workers, Swarns writes about the relatively stable labor conditions for workers at Macy’s in New York City’s Harold Square, explaining:

…these union workers savor something that is all too rare in the retail industry right now: guaranteed minimum hours — for part-time and full-time employees — and predictable schedules.

Unfortunately, as an upcoming report by Murphy Professor Stephanie Luce and the Retail Action Project shows, these benefits are accruing to only a fraction of the retail industry as a whole. Swarns writes that the researchers, “surveyed 236 retail workers in Manhattan and Brooklyn and found that only 40 percent had set minimum hours per week.”

For more on the state of unions and retail workers, and a look at some of the changes the retail industry is undergoing, read the full story.

Photo via NYTimes

Paid Family Leave Should Be Required

This article was originally posted on Times Union.

By Ed Ott and Nancy Rankin

As we head back to work after the Labor Day weekend, it’s a good time to reflect on how things are going for New York’s 9 million working people.

We’ve made some progress this year: the lowest-paid workers got the first installment of their raise, as the state minimum wage went to $8 an hour. Not nearly enough, and tipped workers are still owed their promised increase, but a start. The labor movement succeeded in achieving greater child care funding in the state budget. And over 1.2 million workers in New York City who did not have a single paid sick day before this year are now able to take sick leave without losing their wages or their jobs.

All of these will be good for New Yorkers and good for New York. When workers earn a decent living with sensible policies — like child care and sick days — they can take care of their families, pay their taxes and help grow our businesses.

But lawmakers left Albany before completing one important initiative: paid family leave. Continue reading Paid Family Leave Should Be Required

Community Organizing with WE ACT

Last fall, the Murphy Institute launched a B.A. in Urban and Community Studies. The program focuses on public policy, the delivery of services, and improving the quality of life for communities and working-class populations. Students in the program use methods and perspectives from sociology, economics, political science, history, and anthropology to analyze the conditions of cities, neighborhoods, and communities within a globalizing economy and culture. Our students have opportunities for experiential and applied learning, including fieldwork and workplace-based projects in New York City — our classroom.

Etinosa Emokpae is one of our students and had a chance this summer to intern at a community-based organization in Harlem that engages residents to address environmental justice/public health issues and find solutions. In this piece, she shares some of her impressions.

I’d like to recount my amazing experience in the Urban Studies Fieldwork seminar, which was co-taught by Professors James Steele and Eve Baron. The seminar allows students to intern at a public agency or community organization that fits their interests. Continue reading Community Organizing with WE ACT

The Labor Question

By Joshua Freeman

In a Labor Day op-ed article in the NY Daily News, I argued that even as unions have suffered a series of setbacks and continue to slip in the percentage of workers they represent, labor issues are more prominent now than at any time in the recent past. What we are seeing might be called the re-emergence of “the labor question.” (New York is somewhat exceptional because, as the Murphy Institute’s Ruth Milkman and Stephanie Luce show in a forthcoming study reported in The New York Times, union membership in the city has been rising significantly of late.)

“The labor question” was once a common term, widely used in the early 20th century. On the simplest level, it asked how orderly relations could be maintained between employers and employees, preventing the outbursts of labor strife that had become common in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Continue reading The Labor Question

NYTimes: Union Rates Rebounding Over 18-Month Period

On Labor Day this year, Murphy faculty members Ruth Milkman and Stephanie Luce were quoted in a New York Times article entitled Study Suggests a Rebound for Union Jobs in New York. The article describes the pair’s research findings around trends in union membership in New York City, referencing their recent “State of the Unions” report — which notes a “pretty healthy uptick” in the number of union workers in New York City. 

Read the full report here.

Welcome Fall 2014 JSMI Students!

We are excited to welcome incoming Fall 2014  students to The Murphy Institute this week! Below is  a reflection from Palma Dellaporta, a PSC member and a registrar at Brooklyn College, who attended the Urban Studies MA orientation last Saturday.

[The Urban Studies MA Orientation this past Saturday] was a comprehensive event that not only left me feeling like I had all the information I needed, but truly supported.The most striking aspect of the day was how genuinely interested in the students everyone was. Their interest was not only about our studies, but about our lives, what brought us to the program, and what our expectations were. The encouragement, kindness, wealth of knowledge, and the true welcome made me sure I have found my academic home for the next two years. Additionally, the diversity of my cohort is wonderful. I am energized, anxious to get to work, and looking forward to what this program will bring to my life overall.
Welcome Fall 2014 Students!