Category Archives: Urban Studies

From Taxi Workers to Yemeni Bodega Owners: Labor Resists the Immigration Ban

Since the Trump administration’s immigration ban was issued last Friday night barring entry to the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, protests have erupted at airports and in cities across the United States. Demonstrators are loudly showing their rejection of the xenophobia, racism and bigotry inherent in the ban’s sweeping impact and disregard for the lives of those it affects.

On Saturday night, while protests raged at JFK and other airports around the country, the resistance was bolstered by action from the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, which represents 19,000 drivers in New York City. At 5pm, the Alliance announced that it would stop pickups from JFK airport from 6-7pm in solidarity with the protests.

Today, the city’s Yemeni grocers are on strike for eight hours as a response to the ban as well.

Yemen is one of the countries affected by the ban. Between 4000 and 6000 grocery stores and bodegas are owned by Yemeni immigrants in NYC.

Photo by Shawn Hoke via flickr (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Community-Driven Social Change in the Age of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

How can we make sense of the organizing coming out of today’s social change and resistance movements?

In a new article coming out in the Fordham Urban Law Journal, Professor Michael Haber connects many of today’s most important movements—from post-Occupy community organizing to the rise of the worker co-op movement to parts of the Movement for Black Lives—by looking at how activists’ growing understanding of the non-profit industrial complex has led to the creation of a new framework for social change practice, what he calls the community counter-institution. Continue reading Community-Driven Social Change in the Age of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

NYC Passes Landmark “Freelance Isn’t Free Act”

Gig workers in NYC have had reason to rejoice this week. The Freelance Isn’t Free Act, which protects freelancer workers from wage theft by imposing penalties on businesses that delay or deny payment to their contract workers, was passed by the New York City Council in a unanimous vote last Thursday. The first wage protection act for freelance workers in the country, the act is expected to be signed into law by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

From Gothamist:

Under the provisions of the bill, employers will have a 30 day window after a freelancer renders services (or after an agreed-upon date) to make payment in full. They will also be required to provide a written contract to freelancers working on projects for which they will be paid $800 or more.

Freelancers who bring successful litigation against employers in breach of the law will be entitled to double damages as well as attorneys’ fees. Employers will also be prohibited from retaliating against freelancers who seek to enforce their labor rights.


The bill also establishes a formal mechanism for the director of the Department of Consumer Affairs to enforce the labor rights of freelancers who are stiffed by employers.

Photo by monktea via flickr (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Video: Confronting the Tragedy

On Friday, October 21st, the Murphy Institute convened academics, activists, students, and practitioners to pose crucial questions concerning the criminal justice system and the labor movement’s place and responsibility within it. We heard from Carmen Berkeley, Joo-Hyun Kang, Eugene O’Donnell and Ed Ott about how they see our communities confronting the complex and interlocking dynamics of law enforcement, unionism, and racial justice.

This event marked the launch of a series of roundtables and discussions that will culminate in a two-day conference April 28th and 29th. To learn how you can participate, visit our Academic Conference page.

Check out an interview with Carmen Berkley, a radical civil & labor rights activist, writer, and trainer who currently serves as the youngest Director for the Civil, Human and Women’s Rights Department at the AFL-CIO, here:

Missed the forum or want to watch it again? Watch the full forum here:

Prof. Joshua Freeman on WNYC’s United States of Anxiety

In the lead up to the election, WNYC and the Nation are producing The United States of Anxietya series aimed at exploring the lives and stories of “people trying to hold on to their piece of the American Dream and others who are looking to build one.”

The latest episode, “White Like Me,” dives into experiences of race, dreams and perceptions of some Long Island, and it features Murphy Prof. Joshua Freeman. Prof. Freeman describes how party politics in early US history helped produce the existing racial dynamics in the United States — and also set the tone for the spectacle-like politics we experience today.

Listen here.

Is this the Bad Kind of Unionism?

This article was originally featured in Jacobin and represents one of many perspectives on the question of police and unions.

On Friday, October 21st, 2016, the Murphy Institute hosted Black, Brown and Blue, a conversation bringing together academics, activists, students, and practitioners to pose crucial questions concerning the criminal justice system and the labor movements’ place and responsibility within it.

By Shawn Gude

Their profession is heavily unionized. Culturally, they have more in common with bus drivers than business executives. Many come from working-class backgrounds.

Yet on the beat, police come in contact with — to question, to arrest, to brutalize — the most disadvantaged. This presents a problem for radicals. If the Left stands for anything, it’s worker emancipation and labor militancy. But police and others in the state’s coercive apparatus, workers themselves in many respects, are the keepers of class society. Their jobs exist to maintain social control and protect the status quo. Continue reading Is this the Bad Kind of Unionism?