Category Archives: New Labor Forum

Labor, Accountability and Safety in the Global Era

By Karen Judd

At Thursday’s breakfast forum, Decent Wages and Accountability to Workers in the Garment Global Supply Chain, former New York Times Labor Journalist Steven Greenhouse, whose coverage of the Rana Plaza disaster put global sweatshops again on the front page, said: “Overseas sweatshops are the logical result of globalization and the race to the bottom.” He noted that it is shocking that, 114 years after the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, workers – predominantly women — are working in the same incredibly bad conditions, with no fire escapes or sprinklers, with infrequent inspections and with absolutely no voice for workers, concluding: “Things will not improve unless there is greater pressure from consumers and the media.”

[youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRWhuYVlqS0&feature=youtu.be] Continue reading Labor, Accountability and Safety in the Global Era

Barbara Smith Event – Livestream

The Murphy Institute invites you to a forum
cosponsored with 1199SEIU & Cornell University’s Worker Institute:

The Barbara Smith Identity Politics event will be livestreamed on this page. The video will be below this line – starting Friday morning at 9.30am. Until then, please help us spread the about this important event!

Identity Politics: A Foundation for Coalition Building

Barbara Smith argues that “identity politics” rather than presenting an obstacle to forming coalitions for social and economic justice – offer an essential foundation for such coalitions. Drawing on forty years of work with civil rights, feminist, LGBTQ and other movements, Smith’s new book, Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around, edited by Alethia Jones and Virginia Eubanks, poses an urgent set of related questions that she and forum panelists will consider.

Barbara Smith
Black Feminist organizer and author
“Barbara Smith is one of the grand pioneering and prophetic voices of our time. Her truth still hurts and heals.” Cornell West

Joo-Hyun Kang
Director, Communities United for Police Reform

Gerry Hudson
Executive Vice President, Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

George Gresham, President, 1199SEIU UHE will open the panel
Alethia Jones, 1199SEIU UHE Education Director will moderate.

Chirlane McCray, First Lady of New York
Will be joining us and offering remarks

Friday March 13, 2015
9:30 – 11:30 a.m.

25 West 43rd St, 18th floor
Murphy Institute, SPS, CUNY

Light refreshments will be provided.
RSVP for event: https://foundation-for-coalition-building.eventbrite.com

There is a Future for Low-Income Housing in NYC – If We Work for It!

At this morning’s breakfast forum: “Is There a Future for Low-Income Housing in New York City?”, panelists and audience members had a wide-ranging and animated discussion about constraints and opportunities for achieving the goals of Housing New York: A Five-Borough, Ten-Year Plan. HPD’s Brent Meltzer, a housing preservation specialist and Assistant Commissioner for Community Partnerships, presented the Mayor’s Plan and fielded questions on density, preserving affordability, and the challenges of gentrification. Ismene Speliotis, Carlton Brown, and Lavon Chambers contributed perspectives from advocacy, affordable housing development, and labor. Some of the many take-aways:

  • We need better, more aggressive ways to capture land value to increase rates of affordability.
  • We need airtight ways to bind our housing goals and targets to our workforce development goals and sanction unscrupulous developers and contractors.
  • Housing should not be built in isolation—community planning is needed to comprehensively address neighborhood needs—community organizing is the backbone of community planning.
  • Change in urban areas is inevitable; the issue is how to manage change and eliminate displacement.
  • The non-profit housing sector is underutilized and the city needs to stop over-relying on developer-contractors.
  • Union pension funds should be freed up to invest in housing developments that their members can afford to live in.
  • We need a mix of housing typologies not currently allowed by zoning—single-member households make up over a third of the city’s households but restrictions on density prevent construction of small units. The result: single-member households double, triple, and quadruple up—competing with families for multi-bedroom units.

See two of the presentations from the forum here:

Lavon Chambers, Laborers Union5

Ismene Speliotis, Mutual Housing Association

Dreamers Unbound: Immigrant Youth Mobilizing

Immigrant youth organizing has grown to become one of the most vital social movement in existence today. How has this movement grown to where it is today? What are some of the pivotal strategic moments that have brought immigration reform to the center of mainstream discourse? An article in the latest issue of New Labor Forum provides some answers.

One of the most important social movements in the United States is the undocumented youth movement (Dreamers). The movement has not been successful in passing the federal Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. It has, however, worked closely with its allies to rack up an impressive string of local and state-level victories and pressured the Obama administration to pass Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2012. This latter measure provided approximately 553,000 undocumented youths with temporary relief (two years) from deportation. DACA was an important victory in its own right, but it also provided the legal and political precedent for the broader immigrant rights movement to push for a similar measure to cover all undocumented immigrants residing in the country (“DACA for all”). The Dreamers also helped politicize large segments of the undocumented youth population while inspiring thousands of older immigrants to take a more assertive and contentious stance in asserting their rights to stay in the country. Youths and adults now undertake high-risk civil disobedience actions including chaining them- selves to the White House, blocking deportation buses, occupying offices of national politicians, and engaging in hunger strikes, among other things. The importance of the Dreamers should therefore be understood broadly: they have achieved gains for undocumented youths, and they have unleashed political and legal dynamics that stand to alter the status of the broader undocumented population. Such dynamics contributed to an executive order introduced by President Obama on November 17, 2014 to provide temporary residency to an expected four to five million immigrants with tenuous legal status.

This article highlights contrasting moments in the movement’s development. The first reflects a strategy of the “bounded Dreamer,” aimed to construct political messages that stressed the “deservingness” of this specific population and an organizational infrastructure that instilled disparate youths with discipline when making arguments in the public sphere. The second reflects the strategy of the “unbounded Dreamer,” enabling the incorporation of youth activists into other mobilizations and struggles, especially the anti-deportation campaigns of recent years (2011-2014). The Dreamers in this latter instance are less bound to the tight framing categories of the earlier strategy, feel freer to express broader and more contentious arguments, and make much more use of informal organizations and social media to organize their political work. This article identifies these two strategic moments and assesses the factors that helped the transition from the former to the latter.

Read more at the New Labor Forum online.

Photo by peoplesworld via flickr (CC-BY-NC).

Journalists Gather to Discuss Labor and the Elections at Murphy

Last Friday, Sarah Jaffe, Juan Gonzalez, Errol Louis, Michael Hirsch and Ed Ott participated in a panel discussion in front of a packed house here at Murphy. The panelists analyzed the 2014 midterm elections, looking at what happened this time around and discussing the implications for the future.

Miss the Forum? Check out the livestream, embedded below and archived on our new YouTube channel.

[youtube:http://youtu.be/WBFru6eFtDE?t=9m47s]