Category Archives: New Labor Forum

New Labor Forum

New Labor Forum is a national labor journal from the Murphy Institute and the City University of New York. Published three times a year, New Labor Forum provides a place for labor and its allies to test and debate new ideas. Issues we explore include (but are not limited to): the global economy’s impact on work and labor; new union organizing and political strategies; labor’s new constituencies and their relationship to organized labor’s traditional institutions; internal union reform and new structural models for the labor movement; alternative economic and social policies; and the role of culture in a new, revitalized labor movement. Read the latest issue or subscribe to New Labor Forum.

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

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)

New Labor Forum Highlights: March 12th, 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.

We break with our regular newsletter schedule to bring you a timely and important article on Italy’s 5 Star movement, whose spectacular victory in Italy’s March 4th election represents the most recent political upset contributing to Europe’s shifting political landscape. The U.S. press has tended to mischaracterize this resurgent political force. Rather than “a ragtag band of disaffected voters” (NYT, 3/5/18), M5S has its roots in left-wing populism and cyber democracy, and only more recently has become tangled up with the rising tide of anti-immigrant sentiment proliferating throughout Europe. New Labor Forum is making available to its readers now, ahead of print publication, an article by Richard Drake, entitled Left-Wing Populism Meets “La Grande Crisi,” that very usefully examines M5S.

Photo by Liwax via flickr (CC)

New Labor Forum Highlights: Feb. 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.

Some of the best of what New Labor Forum has to offer comes in the form of the artwork we publish and review. In addition to printing poetry in each issue, NLF Books & the Arts Editor Gabriel Winant ensures that we carry appraisals of fine arts exhibits, film, theater, and literature, as well as books you might expect. And our “Out of the Mainstream” listing curated by Matt Witt provides brief synopses of films and books less widely reviewed, but of likely interest to our readers.

In this installment of the newsletter, we offer a review by Adom Getachew (due out in our May issue) on a current exhibit “The Sweat of Their Face: Portraying American Workers.” This show is on view through Sept. 3, 2018 at The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., a venue much better known for Presidential portraiture than for the enslaved childcare worker, bobbin girl, powerhouse mechanic, sandwich maker, and other laborers included in this show.

And we include from the current issue of the journal the poem “Winter after the Strike” by the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Gregory Pardlo, who writes with poignant grace of his childhood as the son of a local union leader in the tragic PATCO strike of 1981. Also on the subject of the PATCO strike, Pardlo’s new book, Air Traffic: A Memoir of Ambition and Manhood in America, is due out in April 2018.

On the theme of new and forthcoming books, NLF Editor-at-Large Steve Fraser’s Class Matters: The Strange Career of an American Delusion is due out next month. In his latest book, Fraser examines six signposts of American history—the settlements at Plymouth and Jamestown; the ratification of the Constitution; the Statue of Liberty; the cowboy; the “kitchen debate” between Richard Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev; and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech—to explore just how pervasively class has shaped our national conversation, despite our best efforts to pretend it doesn’t.

And finally, in the run-up to the Academy Awards, we direct your attention to a recent New York Times review of three Oscar-nominated documentary shorts featuring working-class protagonists and themes: Elaine McMillion Sheldon’s Heroin(e), Kate Davis’ Traffic Stop, and Laura Checkoway’s Edith+Eddie.

Table of Contents

  1. Review: Portrait of the Worker as a Black Woman/ Adom Getachew, New Labor Forum
  2. Poem: “Winter After the Strike”/ Gregory Pardlo, New Labor Forum
  3. Class Matters: The Strange Career of an American Delusion/ Steve Fraser, Yale University Press
  4. Review: In the Oscar-Nominated Documentary Shorts, Moving Portraits and Visceral Stories/ Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times

Feature photo shows Tommy (Holding His Bootblack Kit) by Jacob Riis / Modern gelatin silver print from dry plate negative, c. 1890 (printed from original negative, 1994) Museum of the City of New York, New York City; gift of Roger William Riis, 1990

New Labor Forum Highlights: Feb. 5th, 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.

The neoliberal trend that has corporatized higher education and made of it a brave new world of contingent faculty labor has also given rise to an ethos of student consumerism that acts, on occasion, to persecute that precarious workforce. In the winter 2018 issue of New Labor Forum, Joshua Sperber takes a close look at the “Rate My Professor” website which functions in just this way, as a kind of online disciplinarian, intimidating and humiliating  an academic precariat whose intellectual labors are subject to the whims of the marketplace.

Unsurprisingly, these conditions have continued to spark nationwide campaigns among contingent faculty to raise wages, secure benefits, increase job security, and defend academic freedom. In an article for New Labor Forum and in a talk delivered at the Murphy Institute, Malini Cadambi Daniel assesses the prospects of this organizing to reconfigure campuses as neither ivory towers nor sweatshops.

We also draw your attention to the work of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions at CUNY’s Hunter College. From April 15 – 17, 2018, the National Center will host a conference entitled Facing New Realities in Higher Education and the Professions, featuring David Weil and other prominent scholars.

Table of Contents

1. Making the Grade: Rating Professors- Joshua Sperber/ New Labor Forum
2. Contingent Faculty of the World Unite! Organizing to Resist the Corporatization of Higher Education-Malini Cadambi Daniel/ New Labor Forum
3. Lessons in Adjunct Organizing- Video of talk by Malini Cadambi Daniel/ The Murphy Institute
4. 45th Annual National Conference: Facing New Realities in Higher Education and the Professions, April 15-17, 2018-The National Center/ Hunter College, CUNY

Photo by Timothy Krause via flickr (CC-BY)