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.
New Labor Forum is proud to announce the release of our May 2017 issue – just in time for May Day! We offer a collection of exceptionally strong articles, notably a debate regarding the broadly predicted emergence of a non-white voting majority in the U.S. Cristina Mora & Michael Rodriguez-Muniz respond to an intriguing article by Richard Alba, entitled “The Likely Persistence of a White Majority” that appeared in The American Prospect. In that article, Alba warned against the presumption of a “majority-minority” voting block. In their response for New Labor Forum, Cristina Mora & Michael Rodriguez-Muniz take issue with Alba’s conclusions, particularly concerning the racial identities of Latinos and growing numbers of mixed race offspring. And Alba responds, asserting the significance of these segments of the population in which he discerns a politically consequential blurring of ethno-racial boundaries. In the wake of Trump’s election after years of assertions about the ‘New American Majority’ this conversation holds special urgency. Also from the May issue, we highlight a review by Lily Geismer, who examines two books and their discussion of post-industrial life in the rustbelt, important to understanding a vital aspect of Trump’s electoral support.
And in honor of May Day, we’re pleased to showcase Sarah Aziza’s article from Waging Nonviolence about the organizers of the ‘Day without an Immigrant’ happening today in conjunction with International Workers Day. The last decade has seen a revival of May Day as something that combines a resurgent immigrant workers’ movement, a more public and militant wing of the left, and a shifting labor movement – all at the same time. We will continue to examine these burgeoning forms of the Resistance as they test their strength.
The Murphy Institute for Worker Education & Labor Studies, CUNY, is bringing together academics, labor leaders, activists, students, and policy makers to pose crucial questions concerning the criminal justice system and the labor movement’s place and responsibility within it. Our two-day conference, Confronting the Tragedy: Law Enforcement, Unionism, and Communities of Color, is the culmination of a conversation we began last fall at a forum of the same name (videos here). These events are designed to examine the complex and interlocking dynamics of race, class, law enforcement and unionism, and thus to support the work of social justice activists, trade unionists, and policy makers to create a more just system of law enforcement.
As plans develop to tear down the Bronx’s Sheridan Expressway, many residents and local politicians look forward to the possibility of a safer roadway, lower pollution rates and more riverfront access. In an article this week in the NYTimes, Patrick McGeehan describes some of the issues with the existing expressway:
Large trucks still use the expressway to get to and from the produce market at Hunts Point. But those trucks exit the Sheridan and rumble through local streets to reach the market.
David R. Shuffler, a community activist, lives on one of those streets and said he feared for the safety of his 1-year-old son. “I hear trucks barreling through my street every single night and all day long,” said Mr. Shuffler, who is the executive director of Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice.
But Murphy Institute Adjunct Professor Elena Conte cautions about too much excitement for the plan while details remain hazy:
“It’s an encouraging start, and a lot of very important details need to be worked out,” Ms. Conte said.
“To the extent that the proposal the governor is investing in seeks to address the legacy of Robert Moses’ top-down planning, it is a visionary step forward,” Ms. Conte said. ”If Governor Cuomo wants credit for undoing the legacy of Robert Moses in the South Bronx, he will do that not just by making physical changes but also by listening to a community that Moses pointedly ignored.”
Taught by Evan Casper-Futterman
With Guest Lectures by Dario Azzellini This class will be cross-listed in the Masters Programs of both Labor and Urban Studies. Speak to your adviser about registration. Monday nights at the Murphy Institute
In the 1950s, labor unions claimed membership in 35% of the workforce. Today, density of labor unions outside of government employees is 6.7%. This precipitous decline in the economic and political power of working people begs the question: who will act as the countervailing economic and political forces to capital and inequality in the 21st century? This course will identify and examine multiple forms of workers’ self-management and cooperative enterprises and institutions throughout history, both as a reaction to economic crisis and as a coherent vision for a humane and just society. The course explicitly approaches cooperatives and self-management not as an “alternative business model,” but as part of labor history and labor struggles. This reconnects the idea of cooperatives to their origins and shows the potential of cooperatives in putting forward different values for a more just and participatory politics, economics, and society.
Evan Casper-Futterman is a 3rd generation New Yorker living in the Bronx. He earned a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of New Orleans in 2011, was a White House Intern in the Spring of 2012 in the Domestic Policy Council’s Office of Urban Affairs and a Research Fellow for the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives. He is currently a doctoral candidate at the Bloustein School of Urban Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, studying economic democracy and economic development. He is on the Board of Directors of the Cooperative Economics Alliance of New York City (CEANYC). His writing has been published in The Lens and The Huffington Post, as well as the peer-reviewed Berkeley Planning Journal. He contributed a chapter in the edited volume, The Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas (2013).
Dario Azzellini, Murphy Institute visiting scholar, is a political scientist, lecturer at Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria, writer and filmmaker. He has published several books, essays and documentaries about social movements, privatization of military services, migration and racism, including An Alternative Labour History: Worker Control and Workplace Democracy. His research and writing focuses on social and revolutionary militancy, migration and racism, people’s power and self-administration, workers control and extensive case studies in Latin America.
In honor of the birthday of W.E.B. Du Bois, who amidst other great accomplishments authored Economic Co-operation Among Negro Americansin 1907, the Murphy Institute hosted a forum on Friday, February 28th to explore the stories, struggles and successes of workers who have taken control and bettered their lives through the cooperative history of African-American communities, and ask how we can apply those lessons to contemporary struggles locally and around the globe.
Missed the forum, or want to re-watch it? Check out video coverage from the event below:
Last month, San Francisco became the first US city to sue the Trump administration over its executive order cutting off federal funding to sanctuary cities. Indeed, sanctuary cities have become a beacon of hope for progressive communities hoping to build up their resistance to the Trump administration’s regressive and havoc-wreaking immigration policies.
But what, exactly, are sanctuary cities. And, as a sanctuary city, how can NYC effectively defend itself against the threats of the new reality?
New York City has historically played the role of Sanctuary City, to the nation, and to the world.
As a premiere global city, it boasts one of the world’s most diverse populations. For many, the example of successful and prosperous coexistence of diversity embodied in NYC’s cultural, social, and economic fabric serves as a critical global symbol of the power of pluralism as a local and global ideal in action.
This strength, however, comes as the result of great historical and contemporary struggle. From the legacies of civil rights triumphs, the global village, and progressive visions of pluralism, NYC’s balance for equality and equity requires constant vigilance, collaboration, and action to defend empowerment.
This panel will bring together leaders from NYC’s diverse community to discuss what it means to be a Sanctuary City in action – not only word. We will explore what it takes to grow powerful communities and social cohesion and urban systems that support this important work – in the face of uncertain and targeted circumstances.
Mark Winston Griffith, Executive Director, Brooklyn Movement Center,
Nisha Agarwal, Commissioner, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs,
Roberto “Mukaro” Borrero, Taíno Nation, and
Peter L. Markowitz, Professor of Law, Director, Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic, Cardozo School of Law