Category Archives: Urban Studies

Fall Graduate Class: Economic Democracy Against Economic Crisis

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.

Faculty:

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.

Video: From Economic Crisis to Economic Democracy

In honor of the birthday of W.E.B. Du Bois, who amidst other great accomplishments authored Economic Co-operation Among Negro Americans in 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:

We invite you keep this conversation going.

Join us at the bi-annual Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy, June 9-11, 2017 in NYC.

If you’d like to deepen your study of economic democracy, consider enrolling in our fall course, “Economic Democracy Against Economic Crisis: Work and Wealth in the Next Economy.” Please contact Rebecca Lurie, Program Director for Murphy Institute’s Community & Worker Ownership Project for more information: 212- 642-2080 or rebecca<dot>lurie<at>cuny<dot>edu.

EVENT: Sanctuary Cities: Growing Powerful Communities (3/3)

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?

Join the Pratt Center for Planning and the Environment and NYC Environmental Justice Alliance this Friday, March 3rd, 2017 from 6-8pm forSanctuary Cities For All: Growing Powerful Communities in Uncertain Times,” the second part in a 4-session series about the populism and the Trump administration’s first 100 days:

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. 

Speakers include:

  • 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

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)