Category Archives: Labor Studies

A Not-So-Happy Labor Day: NLF Highlights for September 4, 2017

The New Labor Forum has launched 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.

For the past half-century, Labor Day has more often than not presented the occasion for a sobering assessment of the diminished power of organized labor and the resulting decline in living standards for the entire working-class – from wage stagnation and precarious work to the whittling away of employer-based health and pension coverage. And this Labor Day forces an even grimmer-than-usual reckoning. The fact that, only a week ago, the Trump regime inducted the likes of former President Ronald Reagan into the Labor Department Hall of Honor is emblematic of the crisis. With the addition of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, the right-wing’s decades-long attack on public sector unionism is likely to score a big victory in the Janus v. AFSCME case, slated for a hearing later this fall. In theSeptember 2017 issue of New Labor Forum, rolling off press now, we contemplate the probable implications and strategic options facing public sector unions once the ruling is handed down. Included in this newsletter is an article from the issue by Chris Brooks, arguing against a strategy of members-only unionism advocated by some on the left in response to the predicted end of the agency shop.

Also under contemplation in the Fall 2017 issue, is the historically troubled, but occasionally productive, relationship between organized labor and civil rights organizations. Strengthening that alliance in the years ahead will prove critical to the fate of labor and racial justice movements. We offer here a piece from the journal by Brandon Terry and Jason Lee, examining the historical obstacles to such alliances, and suggesting new grounds on which to reinvigorate those efforts under current circumstances.

Subscribe to New Labor Forum and gain full access to in-depth analysis on issues like these.

Table of Contents

  1. A Cure Worse Than the Disease/ Chris Brooks
  2. State of the Union/ Ruth Milkman & Stephanie Luce
  3. Rethinking the Problem of Alliance/ Brandon Terry & Jason Lee
  4. Fighting Back Against Public Sector Attacks/ Pierrette Talley
  5. The Trump Administration Just Put Ronald Reagan Alongside Eugene Debs In Its Labor Hall of Honor/ Thor Benson

Photo via The Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives 

Orientation Brings New JSMI Students Together

On Wednesday, August 23rd, 75 new Murphy Institute certificate students gathered along with existing students, faculty, administrators and staff members for a warm welcome to the Murphy family. The new student orientation brought together union semester and community semester cohorts, as well as Public Administration, Healthcare Policy and Administration, and Labor Relations groups. Thanks to all who participated, and here’s to the success of our students!

 

Report: State of the Unions 2017

Organized labor has suffered sharp declines in recent years. So where does this leave the labor movement? And how do New York City and State compare to the nation as a whole?

Murphy Professors Ruth Milkman and Stephanie Luce have released a new report that addresses these questions. State of the Unions 2017: A Profile of Organized Labor in New York City, New York State and the United States looks at how union density has changed nationally and locally across demographics and industries over the past decades, and assesses the challenges and prospects that the labor movement faces now and in the coming years.

Explore this invaluable and accessible report here.

Prof. Joshua Freeman Talks Taylor Law on the Brian Lehrer Show

On Wednesday, Murphy Prof. Joshua Freeman was on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show along with William Herbert, Executive Director of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions, to talk about the Taylor Law.

They discussed the history of the law, 50 years in, and its ramifications for public sector unionism. Take a listen here.

Photo by peopleworld via flickr (CC-BY-NC)

The Chief Features The Murphy Institute

The Chief-Leader is a New York City-based weekly newspaper focused on municipal government and civil servants, as well as issues affecting New York State and Federal employees. The most recent issue of the newspaper features an article about the Murphy Institute: “As Jobs’ Complexity Grows, Murphy Institute Helps Bridge Knowledge Gap: Union-Backed Center Polishes Skills, Broadens Education.” The article includes quotes from Henry Garrido (Executive Director of DC 37 and Murphy Advisory Board member), Ed Ott (Murphy Distinguished Lecturer) and several JSMI students.

From Henry Garrido:

“Over the next five years, 120,000 city workers will retire, and we really need the professional public employees that remain to be up to the challenges ahead.”

The article continues:

“To help weather the turbulence ahead, DC 37 is building on its long relationship with the City University of New York’s Murphy Institute. The institute was established in collaboration with city labor unions in 1984 at Queens College to serve the higher-education needs of working adults. It started with just 52 students, and today serves more than 1,500 who are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs. CUNY plans on elevating it to being one of the university’s schools by next fall.”

Check it out here.

What Happens If We Win?

This article was originally featured in Jacobin.

By Stephanie Luce

Despite our cynicism about electoral politics, the Left needs political parties. The Right’s rising power and momentum throughout the world gives us a stark reminder of the practical effects of our lack of a party of our own in the United States.Although it might feel like we’re starting from scratch, we can learn from real experiments. One example is Progressive Dane, a political party formed in 1992 in Madison, Wisconsin.

A New Party

Progressive Dane is named after Dane County, where Madison is located. The party began when Joel Rogers, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Dan Cantor, a longtime political organizer, put forward the idea of a “New Party.”

The New Party hoped to revive fusion voting as tool for building a party. Fusion voting allows a candidate to run on two ballot lines, allowing voters to vote for a third party without feeling that their vote for that party was wasted or a “spoiler” in the election, doing little to build a viable political alternative but helping bring a potentially worse alternative to power — dilemmas that otherwise plague third parties under the American winner-take-all system. This allows the party to work inside and outside the Democratic Party at the same time. Continue reading What Happens If We Win?