Category Archives: Urban Studies

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?

Police Organization Chief Apologizes for Mistreatment of Minorities

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.

This week, an important — if controversial — announcement came from an unlikely place. Terrence Cunningham, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, apologized for the the historical role of law enforcement have in the mistreatment of minorities, calling it a “dark side of our shared history.” From the Associated Press:

Cunningham […] said at the group’s annual conference that police have historically been a face of oppression, enforcing laws that ensured legalized discrimination and denial of basic rights. He was not more specific.

Cunningham said today’s officers are not to blame for past injustices. He did not speak in detail about modern policing, but said events over the past several years have undermined public trust. His comments come as police shootings of black men have roiled communities in Ferguson, Missouri; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and suburban St. Paul, Minnesota; and as black shooters have targeted officers in Dallas, the St. Louis suburb of Ballwin and Baton Rouge.

“While we obviously cannot change the past, it is clear that we must change the future,” Cunningham said. “We must forge a path that allows us to move beyond our history and identify common solutions to better protect our communities.

“For our part, the first step in this process is for law enforcement and the (International Association of Chiefs of Police) to acknowledge and apologize for the actions of the past and the role that our profession has played in society’s historical mistreatment of communities of color,” he said.

Read more at PoliceOne.com.

Decolonize This Museum: An Indigenous Peoples’ Day Action

On Monday, residents of cities and states around the country celebrated Indigenous Peoples’ Day. New Yorkers, meanwhile, observed a holiday with what, for many, is an offensive and outdated name: Columbus Day.

Cities like Seattle, Denver and Phoenix have all renamed the civic holiday in honor of the indigenous people on whose land America was founded, rather than the colonial conqueror who claimed it in the name of Europeans. But New York City has yet to make such a move. For indigenous activists and their allies, this failure is part of a long chain of white supremacist actions, aggressions and traumas, the symbols of which are visible throughout the city.

One such symbol is a 10-foot tall statue in front of the American Museum of Natural History. The statue features Theodore Roosevelt on a horse, flanked on one side by an African man and on the other, an indigenous man: a starkly racist image of a colonialist history. This past Monday, hundreds of activists came together to cover the statue with a parachute and “Decolonize This Place,” demanding both the removal of the statue and the renaming of the holiday. Continue reading Decolonize This Museum: An Indigenous Peoples’ Day Action