Category Archives: New Labor Forum

New Labor Forum Highlights: Dec. 12th, 2016 

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.

As all our newsfeeds continue to be filled with an increasingly nightmarish list of Trump cabinet appointments, we wanted to bring something different to your attention. New Labor Forum prides itself on covering international affairs as well as domestic politics, economics and social movements.  And it seems apt to close the year with a focus on two countries – Russia and China – that have received so much attention from our Tweeter-in-Chief.

Paul Christensen offers Labor Under Putin, an overview of the severe challenges facing Russian workers. Russia’s authoritarian political climate makes it hard to talk about a real labor movement, but that hasn’t prevented the emergence of a rising number of labor struggles. One recent struggle involved truck drivers protesting a tax that would seriously impact their livelihoods. Philippe Alcoy of Left Voice interviews a local observer for an in-depth look at the Russian trucker’s strike.

Kevin Lin gives depth and breadth to what we think we know about inequality in China. It forms the backdrop to countless stories; one of them is the ongoing engagement between Walmart, the world’s largest private employer, and the ACFTU, which represents Walmart employees in China and is the largest trade union in the world. Qian Jinghua of Sixth Tone reports from the field.

Please note that the next issue of Highlights will come out on January 9th, and will announce the publication of our Winter 2017 issue. Happy holidays from all of us at New Labor Forum!

Table of Contents:

  1. Labor Under Putin: The State of the Russian Working Class by Paul T. Christensen/New Labor Forum
  2. Russian Truck Drivers on Strike by Philippe Alcoy
  3. Rising Inequality and its Discontents in China by Kevin Lin/New Labor Forum
  4. Mega-Retailer Walmart May Face World’s Biggest Union by Qian Jinghua

Photo by Farhad Sadykov via flickr (CC-BY)

Continuing the Discussion: Puerto Rico & PROMESA

Last Friday, together with the New York City Chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, we gathered with Jose La Luz, Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan and Nelson Denis to discuss H.R. 5278, the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), looking at the history of Puerto Rico’s economic crisis and the impact of PROMESA on the people.


We also examined the possibility of a federally created Fiscal Control Board for Puerto Rico in the Spring 2016 issue of the New Labor Forum, with a piece by Jennifer Wolff, senior program director at the Center for a New Economy, on the fiscal and economic crisis and its impact on labor unions. We invite you to revisit that piece and continue the conversation.

Debtors’ Island: How Puerto Rico Became a Hedge Fund Playground

“You could call it a perfect storm: a fiscal crisis converging with a deep secular economic decline. Once touted as the showcase of U.S.- led economic development, debt-strapped Puerto Rico is currently embroiled in a struggle for survival. During the mid-twentieth century, Puerto Rico grew at a rapid pace, betting on cheap labor, privileged duty-free access to the U.S. market, and tax incentives for U.S. companies. By the 1970s, however, the formula had lost steam and the government turned to ever-more crafty means to keep the economy and itself afloat by seeking new federal tax exemptions for U.S. firms, obtaining additional transfers in federal funds, increasing government employment, and issuing public debt in ever-larger amounts. By the year 2000, the government ran on ever-larger deficits. The dance came to a screeching halt in 2014, when Puerto Rico’s debt was degraded to junk status and the island was effectively shut out of the financial markets. Read more.
Photo by damian entwistle via flickr (CC-BY-NC)

Video: Election Debrief: Reporters’ Roundtable

On November 18th, the Murphy Institute hosted a forum providing an examination of the 2016 electoral season, in which working-class anxiety and rage assumed a central role. A group of prominent journalists including Laura Flanders, Harold Meyerson, Jamilah King and Julio Ricardo Varela assessed what the primaries and the general election say about the current political landscape, especially with regard to racial, gender and class voting patterns.

New Labor Forum Highlights: Nov. 28th, 2016

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.

Many of us continue to scratch our heads about a Trump electoral victory that only weeks ago seemed pretty improbable. While we anxiously gaze ahead at the likely domestic and international ramifications of a Trump presidency, we also look back in an effort to understand how it came to this. The Democratic Party primaries, of course, hold some clues. The labor movement was divided during the primary season over whether to support Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. In the forthcoming January issue of New Labor Forum, we invited contributions from both sides to debate those differences. Larry Cohen, past president of the Communications Workers of America argued on behalf of the Sanders option, and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, together with Leo Casey, president of the Albert Shanker Institute, argued on behalf of the Clinton nomination. The authors assumed, as many readers also did, a Clinton victory.  When the election results came in, Randi Weingarten and Leo Casey asked to rewrite their essay. Larry Cohen elected to leave his essay as originally written, opting instead to add a brief addendum that also takes account of the election results. We feature that exchange here, as well as 2 articles and a video which all seek to wrestle with what happened and why — particularly as relates to organized labor.

Table of Contents:

  1. We Believe that We Can Win! by Larry Cohen
  2. Why Hillary Clinton Deserved Labor’s Support by Randi Weingarten and Leo Casey
  3. Election Debrief: Reporters’ Roundtable (Video)
  4. The Union Revolt by Bob Hennelly
  5. What Unions Got Wrong by Steven Greenhouse

Photo by Bill B via flickr (CC-BY)

New Labor Forum Highlights: Nov. 15th, 2016

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.

We send this newsletter just a week after Donald Trump’s electoral victory. That stunning outcome raises more questions than it answers. To what degree are the election results largely a result of an anxious and enraged white working class, sections of which endorse the Trump campaign’s virulent racism, or are willing to overlook it in favor of his tough talk on free trade and a rigged political system? And how should labor and progressive activists understand and respond to the racism the campaign both encouraged and exposed? What did the 2016 election tell us about the wisdom and viability of the Obama coalition, which depends on demographic changes presumed to be advantageous, rather than on birthing a multi-racial working-class? What was the nature and extent of organized labor’s impact on the election, particularly in the rust belt?

Table of Contents:

  1. The Dinosaur and the Billionaire By Steve Fraser, The Nation
  2. Why Did White Workers Leave the Democratic Party? by Judith Stein, Jacobin
  3. Video/Transcript: Michael Eric Dyson vs. Eddie Glaude on Race, Hillary Clinton and the Legacy of Obama’s Presidency, Democracy Now
  4. It Looks Like Donald Trump Did Really Well With Union Households. That’s A Bad Sign For Unions By Dave Jamieson, Huffington Post
  5. Elizabeth Warren addresses the AFL-CIO Executive Council (Video)
  6. Election Debrief: Reporters’ Roundtable November 18 Event, Murphy Institute

Photo by Gage Skidmore via flickr (CC-BY-SA)

New Labor Forum Highlights: Oct. 31st, 2016

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.

In this week’s newsletter, we look policy issues — work and family — that normally fail to receive the political attention they deserve. Ironically, during the first electoral season to feature a woman as major party candidate, these issues remained overshadowed by other far less policy oriented concerns.

We kick off our effort to highlight these issues with an assessment by Linda Gordon of Second Wave Feminism, which included a strong strand of Socialist Feminism that emphasized the intersection of gender, race, and class oppression. As such, this movement that peaked from the mid 1960s until the 1980s gave rise  to many of the work-family policy initiatives of today, including paid family and sick leave; affordable, high quality childcare; and equal pay for equal work.

We look at current progress toward those policy objectives here. In a Washington Post column, New Labor Forum Contributing Editor Ruth Milkman discusses Paid Family Leave as a key means of reducing wealth inequality.  Sharon Lerner, writing for In These Times, describes the financial, emotional, and health repercussions suffered by working-class American women, who unlike their counterparts throughout the world, deliver and raise children without the most fundamental supports. And we provide, from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a handy, brief analysis of gender pay gaps.

To close out this discussion, we look at the disparate promises regarding women’s and family issues being made by each of the two major party nominees for President. If the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was the first bill signed into law by President Obama, it’s reasonable ask what legislation is likely to garner the early support either a President Trump or a President Clinton.

Table of Contents:

  1. Socialist Feminism: The Legacy of the “Second Wave” by Linda Gordon
  2. How a Lack of Paid Leave is Making Wealth Inequality Worse by Ruth Milkman
  3. The Real War on Families: Why the U.S. Needs Paid Leave Now by Sharon Lerner
  4. “The Economic Impact of Equal Pay by State” Status of Women in the States Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Feb 2016 
  5. Donald Trump Unveils Plan for Families in Bid for Women’s Votes by Nick Corasaniti and Maggie Haberman
  6. Clinton’s Platform: Women’s Rights and Opportunity

Photo by Steve Rainwater via flickr (CC-BY-SA)