Category Archives: Labor Studies

Dispatch from the Labor Notes Conference

By Rebecca Lurie

This month was the bi-annual Labor Notes Conference of the “International Troublemakers and Boat-Rockers Union.” Those who have never been before can imagine it as the place where grassroots union and worker organizers meet union leadership on their terms, led by those previously left out of leadership in our unions. Youth, women and people of color speak, lead and shine.

At this year’s event in Chicago, Verizon workers and teachers led the day. With 3,000 attendees, the conference had workshops and panels celebrating and teaching the hard-learned ways to organize for deepening democracy and justice at work.    Continue reading Dispatch from the Labor Notes Conference

TRADE UNIONS AND JUST TRANSITION: TUED WORKING PAPER #11

By Sean Sweeney and John Treat

The concept of “Just Transition” has become increasingly in vogue in recent years in international political circles. While commonly ascribed to be “transformative” in potential, like any fashionable term it runs the risk of being emptied of content and coopted by arbiters of the status quo. So what really is Just Transition, and why is it potentially so transformative? This is the question the authors set out to answer in this eleventh working paper published under the auspices of our Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED) project.

In one of its most thorough treatments to date, Sean Sweeney and John Treat, both of the Murphy Institute, not only define the concept of Just Transition but take us through its history and the various polemics that surround it. Starting with its roots in the U.S. labor movement, the authors trace the development of the concept, from being one focused almost exclusively on workers impacted by environmental policies, to becoming much broader in its call for socioecological transformation at the point of not only consumption but also production. Continue reading TRADE UNIONS AND JUST TRANSITION: TUED WORKING PAPER #11

The Chief-Leader Features Murphy Institute Conference on #MeToo

Last Friday, the Murphy Institute hosted a day-long event on labor and community in the age of #MeToo. The event brought together leaders from the labor movement, legal advocacy and gender equity work — with thought-provoking and actionable results.

For a round up of some of the discussions and panels from the event, check out The Chief-Leader’s coverage of the event by reporter Crystal Lewis here. From the article:

“The fact that we’re still talking about sexual harassment six months after #MeToo shows this isn’t a moment: it’s a movement,” said Maya Raghu, director of workplace equality at the National Women’s Law Center during a March 23 panel on sexual harassment at the Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies.

Students, union members and advocates attended the panel at the Murphy Institute’s headquarters in Midtown to learn and discuss strategies that labor and community groups could use to combat sexual harassment in the workplace. Once allegations surfaced last October that movie producer Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted or otherwise harassed dozens of women in the entertainment business, the #MeToo movement triggered accusations of sexual misconduct in other industries.

Read the full article here.

Video: “Behemoth” & “Making It: Why Manufacturing Still Matters”

On Friday, March 23rd, the Murphy Institute hosted book talks from Joshua Freeman, author of “Behemoth: The Factory and the Making of the Modern World” and Louis Uchitelle, author of “Making It: Why Manufacturing Still Matters”. Missed the event or want to see it again? Check out the video below:

Speakers:

  • Joshua Freeman, Distinguished Professor of History, CUNY Graduate Center; Murphy Institute Consortial Faculty
  • Louis Uchitelle, Journalist and author; lead reporter for award-winning NY Times Series The Downsizing of America
  • Introduced by Ruth Milkman, Professor of Sociology, CUNY Graduate Center; Director of Research, Murphy Institute

Unions, Collective Bargaining and Soccer Players

By Jay Youngdahl

This June, the men’s World Cup will begin. Billions of people throughout the world will cheer their favorite team and players. Given the diverse nature of the Murphy Institute community, there will be cheerful disagreement as to which team is the best.

However, in a special treat for soccer fans associated with the Murphy Institute, the global union for soccer players, FIFPro (Fédération Internationale des Associations de Footballeurs Professionnel/International Federation of Professional Footballers) has put out a short inspiring video with some of the leading male and female soccer players in the world. The video, which begins with the incomparable Lionel Messi of Argentina, features talented players discussing the importance of unions and of collective bargaining at work. These famous athletes stress the importance of equal rights, respect, and justice for all workers, including footballers.

So, while many in the Murphy Institute community may disagree about which is their favorite team, this video features players we can all cheer for in this men’s World Cup and in the upcoming Women’s World Cup.

Jay Youngdahl is a Visiting Research Scholar at the Murphy Institute.

New Labor Forum Highlights: March 19th, 2018

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.

On Friday, March 23rd, the Murphy Institute, publisher of New Labor Forum, will be holding two important public events. Those events provide the dual focus of today’s newsletter.

NLF Consulting Editor Joshua Freeman will be speaking on his important new book Behemoth: The Factory and the Making of the Modern World and sharing the stage with award-winning journalist Louis Uchitelle, who will discuss his book Making It: Why Manufacturing Still Matters. The decline of U.S. manufacturing jobs – to the tune of 28 percent over the past two decades—has, of course, been a primary concern of the trade union movement, which fought tooth and nail to turn that grueling work into decent jobs and a base of union strength. In his recent, ad hoc announcement of 25 and 10 percent tariffs on steel and aluminum, respectively, President Trump sought to capitalize on those concerns. As it turns out, the political history of imposing tariffs as a means to defend manufacturing goes back to the founding of the country, as discussed in an illuminating article for New Labor Forum by Joshua Freeman and Steve Fraser, included here. And what are progressive economists’ to make of the current iteration of protectionism? In their recent op-ed for the Washington Post, Jared Bernstein and Dean Baker critique Trump’s ill-considered trade tariffs, arguing for a trade policy that would support those whose jobs are lost to global trade, while reducing certain protections, namely for professionals and patents that keep the cost of our healthcare so high.

The second public event at the Murphy Institute will bring the #MeToo movement out of the Hollywood spotlight and into the realm of lower waged work in restaurants, on the factory floor, and the hotel cleaning crew, where change often depends on collective action and the coupling of feminist and class consciousness. Providing a historic context for these contemporary efforts, we offer an article by scholars Eileen Boris and Annelise Orleck, written for New Labor Forum on the hundredth anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.

Table of Contents

  1. Book Talk: “Behemoth: The Factory and the Making of the Modern World” & “Making It: Why Manufacturing Still Matters”/ Joshua Freeman & Louis Uchitelle, The Murphy Institute
  2. “In the Rearview Mirror” Trading Places: Protecting American Industry is so Yesterday/ Steve Fraser & Joshua Freeman, New Labor Forum 
  3. We know what bad trade policy looks like. But what about good trade policy?/ Jared Bernstein and Dean Baker, The Washington Post
  4. Promising Practices: Labor and Community Fighting Sexual Harassment in the Era of #MeToo/ The Murphy Institute and The Worker Institute at Cornell ILR
  5. FEMINISM AND THE LABOR MOVEMENT: A Century of Collaboration and Conflict/ Eileen Boris and Annelise Orleck/ New Labor Forum

Photo by Nestle (CC-NC-ND)