Category Archives: Labor Studies

Event: Confronting the Tragedy (4/28-29)

Dates: April 28th-29th
Time: 9am-5:30pm
Location: Murphy Institute, 25 W. 43rd St., 18th Floor

REGISTER HERE

The Murphy Institute for Worker Education & Labor Studies, CUNY, is bringing together academics, labor leaders, activists, students, and policy makers to pose crucial questions concerning the criminal justice system and the labor movement’s place and responsibility within it. Our two-day conference, Confronting the Tragedy: Law Enforcement, Unionism, and Communities of Color, is the culmination of a conversation we began last fall at a forum of the same name (videos here). These events are designed to examine the complex and interlocking dynamics of race, class, law enforcement and unionism, and thus to support the work of social justice activists, trade unionists, and policy makers to create a more just system of law enforcement.

For list of speakers or to register, click here.

Diversity Scholarship: Spring 2017 Symposium

By Janet Leslie

On Tuesday, February 28, 2017, the Murphy Institute hosted the Joseph S. Murphy Scholarship for Diversity in Labor Spring 2017 Scholar Symposium. Michelle Akyempong, Vice President of Legislation & Political Action for District Council 37, Local 371 attended as this term’s special guest.

Since the inception of the Joseph S. Murphy Scholarship program, symposiums have been held at the start of each Fall and Spring term, allowing the program’s budding scholars to interact with practitioners, researchers and scholars in the fields of labor and urban studies.

To this end, we invite prominent members of these fields to join us for a roundtable talk, where they share reflections about their personal challenges and conquests on their educational and/or professional journeys. Past guests have included: Kitty Krupat, labor activist, organizer and associate director, emeritus JSMI; James Steele, labor studies adjunct faculty JSMI; and Ydanis Rodriguez, district 10 – NYC council member. We thank each of the past presenters who have truly inspired us to our better selves and willingly and generously shared their time with our scholars. Continue reading Diversity Scholarship: Spring 2017 Symposium

Fall Graduate Class: Economic Democracy Against Economic Crisis

Taught by Evan Casper-Futterman
With Guest Lectures by Dario Azzellini

This class will be cross-listed in the Masters Programs of both Labor and Urban Studies. Speak to your adviser about registration.
Monday nights at the Murphy Institute

In the 1950s, labor unions claimed membership in 35% of the workforce. Today, density of labor unions outside of government employees is 6.7%. This precipitous decline in the economic and political power of working people begs the question: who will act as the countervailing economic and political forces to capital and inequality in the 21st century? This course will identify and examine multiple forms of workers’ self-management and cooperative enterprises and institutions throughout history, both as a reaction to economic crisis and as a coherent vision for a humane and just society. The course explicitly approaches cooperatives and self-management not as an “alternative business model,” but as part of labor history and labor struggles. This reconnects the idea of cooperatives to their origins and shows the potential of cooperatives in putting forward different values for a more just and participatory politics, economics, and society.

Faculty:

Evan Casper-Futterman is a 3rd generation New Yorker living in the Bronx. He earned a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of New Orleans in 2011, was a White House Intern in the Spring of 2012 in the Domestic Policy Council’s Office of Urban Affairs and a Research Fellow for the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives. He is currently a doctoral candidate at the Bloustein School of Urban Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, studying economic democracy and economic development. He is on the Board of Directors of the Cooperative Economics Alliance of New York City (CEANYC). His writing has been published in The Lens and The Huffington Post, as well as the peer-reviewed Berkeley Planning Journal. He contributed a chapter in the edited volume, The Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas (2013).

Dario Azzellini, Murphy Institute visiting scholar, is a political scientist, lecturer at Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria, writer and filmmaker. He has published several books, essays and documentaries about social movements, privatization of military services, migration and racism, including An Alternative Labour History: Worker Control and Workplace Democracy. His research and writing focuses on social and revolutionary militancy, migration and racism, people’s power and self-administration, workers control and extensive case studies in Latin America.

Contingent Faculty of the World Unite!

This post was originally featured in the New Labor Forum. Want to dig deeper into organizing strategies for contingent faculty? Join us at our upcoming forum Organizing the Academic Precariat: Perspectives on National Trends and Recent Successes on March 24th and hear from Malini Cadambi Daniel and others.

By Malini Cadambi Daniel

The once hallowed and secure work life of American university faculty has for the past quarter century been in turmoil. Being a profes­sor was once a respected, stable profession, but is now increasingly characterized by low pay, minimal benefits, and no job security. An expectation of tenure—the permanent status that was once a hallmark of the profession—is replaced by the reality of contingency, which means that college instructors must reapply to teach courses every year, or even every semes­ter. This new contingency is not a temporary employment arrangement, nor is it confined to a sector of higher education such as community colleges. According to the Coalition of the Academic Workforce’s 2014 report, contingent faculty now comprise more than 75 percent of the instructional faculty in the United States. Faculty contingency is now the norm.

However, contingent faculty are confronting these changes to their profession by organizing and forming unions, the likes of which have not been seen since the graduate student organizing of the 1990s. Continue reading Contingent Faculty of the World Unite!

Video: From Economic Crisis to Economic Democracy

In honor of the birthday of W.E.B. Du Bois, who amidst other great accomplishments authored Economic Co-operation Among Negro Americans in 1907, the Murphy Institute hosted a forum on Friday, February 28th to explore the stories, struggles and successes of workers who have taken control and bettered their lives through the cooperative history of African-American communities, and ask how we can apply those lessons to contemporary struggles locally and around the globe.

Missed the forum, or want to re-watch it? Check out video coverage from the event below:

We invite you keep this conversation going.

Join us at the bi-annual Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy, June 9-11, 2017 in NYC.

If you’d like to deepen your study of economic democracy, consider enrolling in our fall course, “Economic Democracy Against Economic Crisis: Work and Wealth in the Next Economy.” Please contact Rebecca Lurie, Program Director for Murphy Institute’s Community & Worker Ownership Project for more information: 212- 642-2080 or rebecca<dot>lurie<at>cuny<dot>edu.

How Will Farmworkers Fare Under New EPA Leadership?

While labor assesses the dangers and opportunities presented by the Trump administration,  a sometimes-overlooked threat to farmworkers’ safety looms: potential cuts to environmental regulation. As James Trimarco and J. Gabriel Ware write in YES! Magazine:

“[New EPA head Scott] Pruitt’s positions on climate change have been widely reported. Less well-known are the threats that his approach to the EPA is likely to pose to farmworkers, a group that is inextricably tied to the environment and the climate. These workers, more than half of whom are undocumented, are already busy fighting against President Trump’s promised deportations—but they say they’re prepared to lobby for climate justice, as well.

Part of the problem is that the farmworkers are “invisible,” says Jeannie Economos, the health and safety project coordinator at the Florida Farmworker Association. Most Americans have little contact with farmworkers, which makes the impact climate change will have on them hard to understand.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not there. As temperatures climb, farmworkers are among the most exposed. Farmworkers are four times more likely to be affected by heat stress, according to an ongoing study by the Economos’ organization. Plus, Economos says, climate change is already increasing crop diseases and pests, which threaten farmworkers’ jobs.”

With the rise in pests comes the rising use of pesticides — which, over extended exposure, can be harmful to farmworkers:

“…the EPA sets the national rules for pesticide exposure. Those standards were strengthened in 2015 after many years of organizing by farmworkers and their allies. Margaret Reeves, senior scientist with the Pesticide Action Network, says her group worked on the issue for 15 years before the standards were changed. The new rules included language prohibiting farmworkers under the age of 18 from handling pesticides, requiring more training for those who apply pesticides, and mandating that farmers keep records of the pesticides they use.”

For the full story, including some of the resistance organizing happening by and on behalf of farmworkers, visit YES!

Photo by Alex Proimos via flickr (CC-BY-NC)