Category Archives: Labor Studies

Introducing: 2017 Diversity Scholarship Recipients

In ceremonies held last month at the CUNY Graduate Center Elebash Recital Hall, a total of six students were awarded The Murphy Institute 2017 Diversity in Labor Scholarship.  The scholarships are made possible through donations from unions, businesses, and individuals, along with a matching grant from the CUNY Chancellery. 

Get to know a bit about this year’s scholarship recipients below. Congratulations to all!

Xhoana Ahmeti
New York City, NY

L-R_Janet Leslie/Staff, JSMI; Xhoana Ana Ahmeti/Scholarship Recipient; Arthur Cheliotes/President, CWA, Local 1180.
5th Annual Joseph S. Murphy Scholarship for Diversty in Labor, Reception & Awards, Thursday, May 25, 2017, at CUNY Graduate Center.

Xhoana Ahmeti is an entering graduate student pursuing her MA in Labor Studies. Coming to the U.S. from Albania, Ahmeti’s parents found work in service and hospitality jobs. Ahmeti went on to become a first-generation college graduate, earning her B.A. in Public Policy Studies and Geography with minor concentrations in Economics and Environmental Sciences and graduating magna cum laude from DePaul University. 

In 2016, Ahmeti participated in Murphy’s Union Semester program and completed an internship in the Political Department of the Property Service Workers Union, SEIU 32BJ, raising her interest in labor policies. It was then that she developed a new understanding of the challenges facing women in the male-dominated skills construction trades. She was thereby inspired to co-found the Caucus Against Sexist Oppression (CASO), a fledgling non-profit organization that supports women as they move into the skilled trades sector.

This spring Ahmeti is enrolled in a pre-apprenticeship program with Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW-NYC) while attending classes at the Brooklyn Institute of Social Research. Concurrently, she volunteers with the Retail Action Project (RAP) of RWDSU, where she works alongside a team of organizers on emerging nationwide union campaign efforts. She aspires to one day become a journey-level electrician.

Maria Sol Aramendi
Long Island City, NY

L-R_Janet Leslie/Staff, JSMI; Maria Sol Aramendi/Scholarship Recipient.
5th Annual Joseph S. Murphy Scholarship for Diversty in Labor, Reception & Awards, Thursday, May 25, 2017, at CUNY Graduate Center.

Maria Sol Aramendi will enter the Murphy Institute’s M.A. program in Labor Studies this fall. Aramendi received the Albert Neumann Award, named in honor of an educator and writer who died in Auschwitz. Born in Argentina, Aramendi earned her B.A. in Architecture from Universidad Nacional de Rosario in Santa Fe, Argentina and a Master of Fine Arts with a concentration in Studio Arts from CUNY’s Queens College. Her road to labor studies began with the arts and has progressed with the realization that her instincts drive collaborative engagement or, as she puts it: “a cross-pollination of the arts, law, immigration, and labor.”

Aramendi’s arts program, Project Luz, is a result of this multidisciplinary and collaborative approach, providing Spanish-language platforms for Latino immigrants to express themselves while navigating social and economic realities. Aramendi refers to herself as “a social practice artist,” and Project Luz is offered under the auspices of six institutions and organizations in the metropolitan area, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Queens Museum.

Over the years, Aramendi has worked for New Immigrant Community Empowerment, an organization providing legal services for jornaleros—or day laborers. She has collaborated with the National Day Laborer Network and the Standing Up for Dignity: Women Day Laborers in Brooklyn Project. In concert with the National Domestic Workers Alliance, she formulated an Immigrant Workers Dignity Workshop, and, with the Blade of Grass Foundation, received a fellowship to help develop a smartphone app to assist day laborers track their day-to-day workloads, a project that received attention from The New York Times.

Bianca Lynn Garcia
Brooklyn, NY

L-R_James Steele/Faculty, JSMI; Bianca Garcia/Scholarship Recipient.
5th Annual Joseph S. Murphy Scholarship for Diversity in Labor, Reception & Awards, Thursday, May 25, 2017, at CUNY Graduate Center.

An entering graduate student in Labor Studies, Bianca Lynn Garcia earned her B.A. in History from Columbia University, where her research centered on the science of mass mobilization and strategic nonviolent disobedience. This spring, she was presented Murphy’s Morton Bahr Award, named for one of the world’s most influential union leaders and worker education activists.

Garcia, who has deep roots in her African American and Dominican culture, joined the staff of UNITE HERE in 2014, serving as site coordinator for the organization’s summer internship program, Organizing Beyond Barriers. Today, she is a Senior Research Analyst at UNITE HERE and is on track to lead UNITE HERE’s Airport Group.

Garcia has strong research skills, learned in the classroom and on the job, and leading to her capabilities as a strategist in political engagement and worker mobilization. Her expansive knowledge of community-based and global public sector practices also led her to initiate a collaborative campaign between UNITE HERE and a public sector union in Greece, resulting in a published study: A Look at the Privatization of Greece’s Fourteen Regional Airports: An Analysis of European Competition Policy.

Jorge Maldonado
Flushing, NY

Jorge Maldonado/Scholarship Recipient.
5th Annual Joseph S. Murphy Scholarship for Diversty in Labor, Reception & Awards, Thursday, May 25, 2017, at CUNY Graduate Center.

Jorge Maldonado earned his B.A. degree with a double major in Sociology and Psychology at New York University’s College of Arts and Science on a full scholarship, and will enter the M.A. program in Labor Studies this fall. Maldonado, who was born in Ecuador, credits his parents for encouraging his academic progress as well as civic-mindedness. Growing up, he participated in a number of community-based, grassroots, and nonprofit organizations including, Palisades Park Board of Education and Community Food Advocates, which provided outreach to the community under the auspices of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).

As an undergraduate, Maldonado immersed himself in campus activities, including the NYU-John Jos Lab for Social Justice, helping to conduct theoretical research on political behaviors. A star athlete, he competed in track and field, while serving as senior captain of the Men’s Cross Country Track & Field Team and working for the NYU Athletics Department. In his senior year, in addition to setting his personal-best in the 10,000m, he became a founding member of NYU’s Democratic Socialists of America Chapter with the goal of developing strategies for expanding social justice, political education, and on-campus activism.

Maldonado’s scholarly interests center on comparative research on labor movements in the U.S. and Latin America. He hopes ultimately to pursue a PhD in Sociology in order to “analyze the barriers presently facing labor and eventually develop proposals on how to overcome them,” while, he explained, he also “want[s] to remain active in politics and contribute to grassroots organizing.”

Onieka O’Kieffe
Brooklyn, NY

L-R_James Steele/Faculty, JSMI; Onieka O’kieffe/Scholarship Recipient.
5th Annual Joseph S. Murphy Scholarship for Diversty in Labor, Reception & Awards, Thursday, May 25, 2017, at CUNY Graduate Center.

Onieka O’Kieffe is the recipient of a $30,000 Murphy Institute Diversity in Labor Scholarship, supporting her studies toward an M.A. in Labor Studies at The Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies. She completed her B.A. in Urban and Community Studies this spring at The Murphy Institute,.

O’Kieffe was spurred to activism after an episode at a former job revealed a policy of discriminatory employee credit checks. Resolved to protect fellow workers, she participated in a Retail Action Project workshop offered by the Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union (RWDSU) at The Murphy Institute, after which she worked with the New Economy Project, serving as a lead surveyor for CUNY’s in-depth research study about unfair retailer practices. The study and companion survey resulted in “Short Shifted,” a 2014 report about the NYC retail industry. Today, she continues as an activist and media spokesperson for RWDSU today, appearing on CNN’s Situation Room and testifying before the City Council of New York. She played a key role in the passage of legislation to amend the City’s Human Rights Law, making the request or use of an applicant’s credit history unlawful in employment decisions, and now serves on the Board of the Center for Frontline Retail.

Cyprian Springer
Brooklyn, NY

L-R_Janet Leslie/Staff, JSMI; Arthur Cheliotes/President, CWA, Local 1180; Henry Garrido/Executive Director, DC 37; Cyprian Springer/Scholarship Recipient.
5th Annual Joseph S. Murphy Scholarship for Diversty in Labor, Reception & Awards, Thursday, May 25, 2017, at CUNY Graduate Center.

Cyprian Springer is the recipient of a $20,000 2017 Diversity in Labor Scholarship / 1199WEIU Basil Paterson Scholarship Award toward his undergraduate studies at Murphy.  He will begin his studies toward a B.A. in Urban and Community Studies with a concentration in Labor Studies this fall. 

Springer, an active member of Local 375 of District Council 37, The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), was recently elected as a delegate for the Civil Service Technical Guild, Local 375. Despite his workload and union responsibilities, he is determined to balance a full undergraduate course load. Dr. Janet Leslie, Coordinator of the Murphy Institute Scholarship program, noted that the selection committee was impressed by Mr. Springer’s application including his strong statement that “quality work creates quality living.”

Supreme Court Won’t Weigh in on Age Discrimination in Hiring Practices

Amid the shockwaves from the Supreme Court yesterday — in particular the decision to allow parts of President Trump’s travel ban to go into effect until the court hears arguments this fall — came a decision that got notably less attention. The court has decided not to hear a case involving age-discrimination, allowing a lower court ruling to stand. From a ProPublica article in March:

For the past half century, federal law has banned employers from discriminating against people based on their age. But since the early 1990s, corporate lawyers and conservative judges have sought to shrink what counts as discrimination, making it substantially harder to prove age bias. […]

The case involves an Atlanta man named Richard Villarreal, who applied online for a sales manager job with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in 2007 and heard nothing. When he applied in subsequent years, he had no better luck.

What Villarreal, who was 49 at the time of his first application, didn’t know was that Reynolds had retained a subcontractor to review the applications, supplying guidelines that led reviewers to discard his resume and those of almost 20,000 other older applicants. Of the roughly 1,000 sales managers the tobacco company hired between 2007 and 2010, when Villarreal was applying, fewer than a score were over the age of 40. After a whistleblower emerged in 2010, Villarreal sued.

The significance of the case is two-fold. It highlights the hurdles for job seekers as hiring has increasingly moved online, where it’s easier for companies to reject whole classes of applicants and harder for people to keep track of their bids for work. And it illustrates how age discrimination protections have been progressively narrowed. The tobacco company’s defense challenges decades of precedent for how the law has been interpreted and enforced. Continue reading Supreme Court Won’t Weigh in on Age Discrimination in Hiring Practices

Video: Gramsci’s Importance for the Left Today

This year’s Left Forum featured a panel exploring Antonio Gramsci’s work as a major critic of capitalism. Part of a series on major critical thinkers, the panel explored how engagement with Gramsci’s work can advance and sharpen left strategies and tactics in our times. Check it out below.

Featuring:

  • Laura Flanders, The Laura Flanders Show
  • Kate Crehan, Professor Emerita, College of Staten Island and the Graduate Center, City University of New York
  • Chris Hedges, columnist for Truthdig and host of On Contact
  • Richard D. Wolff, Democracy @ Work, Left Forum

Photos: 2017 Murphy Graduation

On May 19th, JSMI hosted our Spring 2017 Graduation Party. A big congratulations to our graduating class of 2017 — and gratitude to all the staff who planned and worked this event.

Current Labor Studies MA student Carmelina Cartei organized a performance to kick off the event, along with performers Elaine Betesh, Naomi Calhoun, Katherine De La Cruz, Susan Epstein,
Anabel Lugones and Sarah Venezia —  and with our own Irene Garcia-Mathes supporting and Rose Imperato on saxophone as well! Photos from the performance and the rest of the graduation celebration are below.

Our thanks as well to our wonderful MC Stacey Payton, who is a Diversity Scholarship recipient and graduated with an MA in Labor Studies. Check out the text from Stacey’s speech, posted in full below the photos.

Continue reading Photos: 2017 Murphy Graduation

Prof. Penny Lewis Releases New Book: The City is the Factory

This month marks the release of The City Is The Factory: New Solidarities and Spatial Strategies in an Urban Age, edited by Murphy Prof. Penny Lewis and Miriam Greenberg.

Urban public spaces, from the streets and squares of Buenos Aires to Zuccotti Park in New York City, have become the emblematic sites of contentious politics in the twenty-first century. As the contributors to The City Is the Factory argue, this resurgent politics of the square is itself part of a broader shift in the primary locations and targets of popular protest from the workplace to the city. This shift is due to an array of intersecting developments: the concentration of people, profit, and social inequality in growing urban areas; the attacks on and precarity faced by unions and workers’ movements; and the sense of possibility and actual leverage afforded by local politics and the tactical use of urban space. Thus, “the city”—from the town square to the banlieu—is becoming like the factory of old: a site of production and profit-making as well as new forms of solidarity, resistance, and social reimagining.

We see examples of the city as factory in new place-based political alliances, as workers and the unemployed find common cause with “right to the city” struggles. Demands for jobs with justice are linked with demands for the urban commons—from affordable housing to a healthy environment, from immigrant rights to “urban citizenship” and the right to streets free from both violence and racially biased policing. The case studies and essays in The City Is the Factory provide descriptions and analysis of the form, substance, limits, and possibilities of these timely struggles.

Contributors:
Melissa Checker, Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York; Daniel Aldana Cohen, University of Pennsylvania; Els de Graauw, Baruch College, City University of New York; Kathleen Dunn, Loyola University Chicago
Shannon Gleeson, Cornell University; Miriam Greenberg, University of California, Santa Cruz; Alejandro Grimson, Universidad de San Martín (Argentina); Andrew Herod, University of Georgia; Penny Lewis, Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies, City University of New York; Stephanie Luce, Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies, City University of New York; Lize Mogel, artist and coeditor of An Atlas of Radical Cartography; Gretchen Purser, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University

Learn more or purchase a copy here.

Event: Renewing the Alliance: Unions and Co-ops Fight for Worker Power (6/9)

Friday, June 9, 2017   *   1pm to 5pm

Fordham Law School at Lincoln Center  

150 West 62nd Street   *   New York City 

**FREE** Register at http://bit.ly/2qczTH3       

Directions: http://bit.ly/2rL7zNs

Under fierce attack from the corporate sector, labor unions are exploring worker co-ops as a way to organize new members, save members’ jobs, create new jobs, and build community alliances. Presenters from NYC, Cincinnati and beyond will share their unions’ experiences with these experiments. Through panels, small group discussions and networking opportunities participants will explore how the co-op business model can help to strengthen and expand our unions.

Speakers include:

  • Ellen Vera – National Manufacturing Organizing Coordinator, IUE-CWA; cofounder, Cincinnati Union Co-op Initiative
  • Mary Hoyer – cochair, UnionCo-ops Council of US Federation of Worker Co-ops
  • Carmen Huertas-Noble – director, CUNY Law School Community & Economic Development Clinic, legal expert on unionized worker co-ops
  • Keith Joseph – 1199SEIU rep for Cooperative Home Care Associates, the US’s largest worker coop
  • David Hammer – ICA Group, consultants to unions on business conversions
  • Brendan Martin, director, The Working World, which supported the launch of New Era Windows in Chicago
  • Arturo Archila – United Steel Workers NYC, helped launch a unionized co-op
  • Roger Green, director, Bunche-DuBois Center for Public Policy Research, Medgar Evers College

Sponsors: UnionCo-ops Council of US Federation of Worker Coops, Murphy Institute for Worker Education & Labor Studies-CUNY, NYC Network of Worker Cooperatives, FPWA, 1Worker1Vote.org

Check out the full conference registration for the  Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy! June 9-11