Category Archives: Labor Studies

Labor Studies

Labor Studies offers graduate degree and certificate programs that examine the opportunities and challenges facing workers and their organizations. The program builds critical thinking, analytical, and leadership skills so that students become more effective advocates for workers’ rights and social justice. Learn more here.

New Labor Forum Highlights: Nov. 13th, 2017

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.

While important revelations of workplace sexual harassment committed by men in the entertainment industry continue to come to light, we take this occasion to consider the ubiquitous and nearly invisible harassment faced by the women who are most tethered to their jobs and least able to access legal remedies. They labor in fast food joints, hotels, secretarial jobs, farms, hospitals, and night shift janitorial jobs. For a host of reasons, their sexual harassment, assault and rape go largely unreported.* This abuse sometimes motivates them to organize, says New Labor Forum Editorial Member Kate Bronfenbrenner,  “But it can be a reason women don’t organize,” she explains in a Boston Globe article on sexual harassment within unions. Lin Farley, journalist, author, and coiner of the term “sexual harassment,” suggests that employers may also use sexual harassment to fend off union drives: “You have young girls, working-class kids for the most part, trying to get jobs in fast food places, because they have to work. And you have fast food managers systematically using sexual harassment to keep turn-over high, so they don’t have to unionize, they don’t have to give high wages. . . . Its one of the huge scandals going on in America today.” Continue reading New Labor Forum Highlights: Nov. 13th, 2017

Jail Workers & the Fight to Close Rikers

The fight to close the Rikers Island Jail complex has received renewed attention since Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan last March to close down the facility in the next 10 years. Many have welcomed the moved, but one group has expressed resistance: correctional officers.

In a recent article in the Daily News, Brooklyn College sociology professor Alex Vitale argues that this resistance is misguided:

Corrections unions face a difficult challenge in the months and years ahead. Do they continue to defend a broken institution in the hopes of saving jobs or do they look for concrete ways to ensure that the people who work at Rikers have secure economic futures?

The irony of this dilemma is that the men and women who work at Rikers know better than almost anyone what a failed institution it is. They see day in and day out the deteriorating infrastructure, inadequate management, and culture of violence that organizes their daily work life. Continue reading Jail Workers & the Fight to Close Rikers

Photos: The City is The Factory: Discussion and Book Party​​

On November 3rd, faculty, students and community members gathered for a lively discussion and celebration of The City Is the Factory: New Solidarities and Spatial Strategies in an Urban Age​, co-edited by Miriam Greenberg, University of Santa Cruz and Penny Lewis, Murphy Institute, CUNY.

Contributors Penny Lewis, Miriam Greenberg, Stephanie Luce, Shannon Gleason and Melissa Checker discussed today’s urban-based struggles for change, asking: what are the new kinds of organizing that we’re seeing emerging in cities today? What challenges do they face, what potential do they have?

Some photos from the event are below!

Conference: Janus & Beyond: The Future of Public Workers (11/17)

Friday, November 17th, 2017
9am-4pm

Murphy Institute
25 W. 43rd St., 18th Floor, New York, NY
REGISTER HERE

Join union leaders, scholars and activists during this one-day conference to discuss the implications of the Janus v. AFSCMEcase for workers and organized labor, possible immediate outcomes, and strategic options for combatting the attack on public sector unionism.

Speakers include:

  • Janella Hinds, Secretary-Treasurer of the NYC Central Labor Council
  • City Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Chair of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor
  • Tony Utano, President of Transport Workers Union Local 100
  • Barbara Terrelonge, Director of Organizing at DC37, AFSCME

Continue reading Conference: Janus & Beyond: The Future of Public Workers (11/17)

Event: The City is The Factory: Discussion and Book Party​​ (11/3)

Murphy Institute
25 W. 43rd St., 18th Floor, New York, NY
Program at 6pm, reception to follow

Join us to discuss and celebrate the publication of The City Is the Factory: New Solidarities and Spatial Strategies in an Urban Age​, co-edited by Miriam Greenberg, University of Santa Cruz and Penny Lewis, Murphy Institute, CUNY.

Contributors will be joined by local organizers to discuss today’s urban-based struggles for change. What are the new kinds of organizing that we’re seeing emerging in cities today? What challenges do they face, what potential do they have?

Speakers include:

  • Penny Lewis, Murphy Institute, CUNY
  • Miriam Greenberg, University of Santa Cruz
  • Shannon Gleason, Cornell University
  • Melissa Checker, Queens College, CUNY
  • Stephanie Luce, Murphy Institute, CUNY

After the discussion join us the us to celebrate the publication of this important anthology.

Building Power before Janus – And After: Lessons from CUNY

This article was originally featured at Labor Notes.

Want to learn more about public sector unionism? Join us for a one day conference on November 17th, “Janus and Beyond: The Future of Public Sector Unions.”

By Luke Elliott-Negri

As recently as 2014, just 22 percent of my co-workers were members of our chapter in our big wall-to-wall union. The rest—some 1,242 employees—paid the “agency fee,” which for us is the same as membership dues. The chapter had been defunct for several years. Few bothered to explain to new employees why it mattered to join and what power might come from engagement.

Both because of the right-wing assault in the form of legal cases like Janus v. AFSCME—the Supreme Court case that will make the whole public sector “right-to-work” by next year—but also because this is what unions should be doing anyway, a group of us set out to change these numbers. Continue reading Building Power before Janus – And After: Lessons from CUNY