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.

Photos and Video: Janus and Beyond: the Future of Public Sector Unions

Many thanks to everyone who supported our recent conference, “Janus and Beyond: the Future of Public Sector Unions,” held November 17th and sponsored by the Cornell Worker Institute and the Murphy Institute at CUNY. Over 170 union activists, leaders, staff and allies attended, coming from over 40 labor locals, councils and federations.

The energy in the rooms was palpable throughout the day. Our morning speakers underscored the urgency of the moment we face by educating us about the where the current attacks are coming from and sharing their firsthand experience of the aftermath of Harris v Quinn in Washington and “right-to-work on steroids” in Wisconsin. In the afternoon we turned to the nuts-and-bolts of best practices: preparing for Janus and going forward in a right-to-work future. Speakers shared their successes and challenges, and workshops allowed participants to drill down in the particulars of communication, member-to-member organizing, legislative campaigns, new approaches to bargaining, and more.

We were grateful to be joined by Janella Hinds, Secretary-Treasurer, NYC Central Labor Council, and UFT Vice President, who opened our conference; City Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Chair, NYC Council, Committee on Labor and Civil Service, who spoke with us during lunch; and Tony Utano, President, TWU Local 100, who shared closing remarks.

 

Announcing: The Murphy Institute Research Awards Program

Submission deadline:  January 5, 2018

<<APPLICATION LINK>>

Send complete applications to: JSMIAwards@sps.cuny.edu

The Murphy Institute’s Research Awards Program supports original qualitative and quantitative research by CUNY scholars on issues relevant to the labor and social justice movements, both nationally and locally.

Researchers from all academic disciplines are invited to apply. The Awards Program is open to CUNY faculty and Level 3 Ph.D. students (excluding those with appointments at the Murphy Institute). Applicants must submit a CV, a research proposal no longer than 750 words, a budget (up to $10,000) and budget justification. Grant period is March 1, 2018 to February 28, 2019. Awards will be made from tax-levy funds. Work proposed and budgets must be consistent with CUNY policies, including the multiple position policy. All expenses detailed in the budget must be consistent with University policy for the use of tax levy funds (see CUNY Purchasing Guidelines). Proposal award may not replace current funding sources. Funds may not be used to cover faculty release time or other full-time staffing, but may include compensation for part-time research support and fee-for service costs such as transcription.

Proposals should specify the research question, hypotheses, methodology, and the type of publication or other deliverable the applicant plans to produce (beyond the research paper mentioned below). The proposal should also highlight the proposed project’s benefits to the labor and social justice movements, and a dissemination plan. IRB approval will be required for research involving human subjects. Please refer to the CUNY IRB guidelines. Documentation of IRB approval will be required before funds are disbursed to applicants selected for awards. Award recipients will be required to submit a 20-25 page research paper and may be asked to make a public presentation under Murphy auspices.

A committee of Murphy’s full-time and consortial faculty will make the final selection of awardees. Although full consideration will be given to any labor-related topic, preference will be given to proposals that address the three topic areas described below:

Organizing Strategies

With union density rates now below 11 percent, union organizing is often seen as a prerequisite for success in the struggle for social and economic justice. But employer opposition to organizing is formidable, and the political and legal environment presents many other challenges. What is the future for union organizing in this context? What organizing strategies, models, and techniques are most effective in the 21st Century?

Worker Centers and Alt-Labor

There are now over 200 “worker centers” in the United States, which are engaged in non-traditional forms of labor organizing and advocacy, focused on low-wage and immigrant workers in sectors where traditional unions are absent. What are the strengths and weaknesses of worker centers? Under what conditions do they
succeed? How have they influenced the larger labor movement?

Pay Equity

Although pay equity has been on the labor movement and public policy agenda for decades, it remains an elusive goal. Women working full-time, year-round still earn only 80 percent of what men are paid. That is a narrower gap than in the past – in the 1960s it was 59 percent – but much more is needed. Racial disparities in pay also persist. What can be done to address these inequalities? How do they vary across demographic groups? What can organized labor and social justice organizations do to improve the situation?

Awards will be announced in February 2018.

Photo by Joe Brusky via flickr (CC-BY-NC)

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)