Ai-jen Poo at the Golden Globes

Ai-jen Poo was the first recipient of the Murphy Institute’s “Rising Leader Award” at the Diversity Scholarship night. And this year, she was at the Golden Globes. From Ai-jen Poo:

On New Year’s Day, 300 women who work in film, television and theater launched the #TimesUp campaign against sexual harassment in solidarity with farmworkers, domestic workers, and countless women across all industries who are survivors of abuse and demanding change.

Their courage is contagious. And the unity among women across industries is unstoppable.  From Hollywood to our own neighborhoods, it’s time for all work to be dignified and safe–no exceptions.

Ai-jen attended the Golden Globe Awards with Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep to shine the spotlight on domestic workers and people who are particularly vulnerable to abuse and often excluded from protections or recourse. Along with other movement leaders representing women in vulnerable actresses, she wore black and attended to “share the same message: Time’s up on abuse. Time’s up on exploitation. Time’s up on silence.”

New Labor Forum Highlights: Jan 8th, 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.

Given the breakneck pace of developments in our national politics, we turn attention in this installment of the newsletter to important developments in South Africa. Cyril Ramaphosa − the heroic anti-apartheid union leader who metamorphosed as a business tycoon during the Mandela presidency – has now been elected to lead the African National Congress. This makes it all but certain he’ll become the next President of South Africa, given the ANC’s continued (though somewhat depleted) electoral dominance.

Here we offer a telling description, by New Labor Forum author Rajendra Chetty, of the role Ramaphosa played in the tragic Marikana massacre in which 34 striking miners were killed, 78 wounded, and 259 arrested at the Lonmin-owned platinum mine on August 16, 2012. We also offer a statistical context for understanding the conditions confronting poor and working-class South Africans today. Among the most urgent of facts are the current soaring rates of unemployment, particularly among young South Africans, which some scholars peg at nearly 50 percent.  This has contributed mightily to the snail’s pace of economic improvement for black South Africans since the country’s independence, pictured in a chart below. We end with a set of policy recommendations by Kuben Naidoo, who insists South Africa’s leaders must confront the reality that “economic growth” does not lead to decreased inequality, and may exacerbate it. His recommendations grapple with a number of issues that merit the attention of U.S. activists and policy makers, given our own history of racialized oppression and decades of burgeoning inequality.

Table of Contents

  1. The Marikana Massacre: Insurgency and Counter-Insurgency in South Africa: Rajendra Chetty/ New Labor Forum
  2. Charts on South Africa’s continued social and economic inequality 
  3. It doesn’t end with Piketty – five policies that could reduce inequality: Kuben Naidoo/ Mail & Guardian

Photo by GovernmentZA via flickr

Urban Studies Capstone Presentations (12/12)

Tues, Dec. 12th, @ 6:15pm
Murphy Institute
25 W. 43rd St., 18A, New York, NY

Please join us for our Urban Studies Capstone Presentations this Tuesday!

URB 699.02 Capstone with Prof. Elizabeth Eisenberg

  • The Sub-Saharan African Social Support Lacuna: Findings and Future Considerations, Immanuel Boateng
  • Why Are Candidates Failing to Complete Processing at The Human Resources Administration?, Sherell Nathaniel
  • Are Academic Outcomes of Marginalized Students in NYC Public High Schools Improving Through Online Learning?, Dyckman Quade Welcome
  • Environmental Racism and Environmental Justice: How Do Communities Successfully Organize to Raise Awareness and Mitigate the Impact of Environmental Racism?, Shannon D. Motley
  • Extended Family Prison Visitation Programs: Are they Worth Saving?, Amanda Belgrave
  • The Education Gestalt: Why Understanding the Question is Critical in the College Selection Process, David T. Boyd, MFA
  • A Walk Through Mental Health Services at Crossroads Juvenile Detention Center: Criminals or Mentally Ill Youth?, Kim Taylor

Photo by Jim Pennucci via flickr (CC-BY)

New Labor Forum Highlights: Dec 11th, 2017

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.

As the Supreme Court appears poised to rule this spring against public sector unions in the  Janus v. AFSCME case, public sector workers nation-wide will be incentivized to opt out of paying union dues, even as unions in their workplaces will remain obliged to bargain on their behalf. For decades now, an array of right-wing foundations with deep pockets have brought about legislation and litigation to eviscerate unions, with a particular focus on weakening public sector unions’ political advocacy on behalf of workers and working-class communities. In the post-Janus environment, these foundations are now prepared to take extreme measures to ensure a depletion of dues paying members in public sector unions. At a recent conference, entitled “Janus and Beyond: the Future of Public Sector Unions”, held on November 17th at the Murphy Institute and co-sponsored with the Cornell Worker Institute, speakers described the high stakes and the imperative for bold organizing.

Among the strategic approaches that have already begun to show great promise for strengthening unions in public and private sectors alike is something called “Bargaining for the Common Good.” Bargaining for the Common Good campaigns, described by Marilyn Sneiderman and Secky Fascione in the forthcoming January 2018 issue of New Labor Forum, get union and community groups to work together to leverage contract negotiations for broader, shared gains. Their article highlights a number of innovative and successful campaigns around the country in which unions have worked with community members, racial justice organizations and others to dramatically expand the range of demands included in contract negotiations. If ever there was, in embryo at least, the prospect of conventional trade unionism morphing into a social movement “bargaining for the common good” harbors that promise.

Table of Contents

  1. Who is Behind This & What to Expect from Anti-Union Forces/ Kim Cook, Cornell Worker Institute
  2. Bargaining for the Common Goods/ Marilyn Sneiderman & Secky Fascione, New Labor Forum

Photo by rochelle hartman via flickr (CC-BY)

Photos and Video: Janus and Beyond: the Future of Public Sector Unions

Many thanks to everyone who supported our recent conference, “Janus and Beyond: the Future of Public Sector Unions,” held November 17th and sponsored by the Cornell Worker Institute and the Murphy Institute at CUNY. Over 170 union activists, leaders, staff and allies attended, coming from over 40 labor locals, councils and federations.

The energy in the rooms was palpable throughout the day. Our morning speakers underscored the urgency of the moment we face by educating us about the where the current attacks are coming from and sharing their firsthand experience of the aftermath of Harris v Quinn in Washington and “right-to-work on steroids” in Wisconsin. In the afternoon we turned to the nuts-and-bolts of best practices: preparing for Janus and going forward in a right-to-work future. Speakers shared their successes and challenges, and workshops allowed participants to drill down in the particulars of communication, member-to-member organizing, legislative campaigns, new approaches to bargaining, and more.

We were grateful to be joined by Janella Hinds, Secretary-Treasurer, NYC Central Labor Council, and UFT Vice President, who opened our conference; City Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Chair, NYC Council, Committee on Labor and Civil Service, who spoke with us during lunch; and Tony Utano, President, TWU Local 100, who shared closing remarks.


The Unmet Promise of Labor’s Resuscitation (12/8)

December 8th, 2017
Murphy Institute
25 W. 43rd St., 18th Floor, New York, NY


New Labor Forum, first published in September 1997, was founded to contribute to the new possibilities for debate and discussion among labor and its allies in the wake of the AFL-CIO’s first ever contested elections in 1995. In those heady days, the New Voice leadership at the federation proclaimed its commitment to large-scale union organizing and ambitious coalition building with working-class communities, and particularly communities of color. It simultaneously engaged in a rapprochement spurred by Left intellectuals and progressive political activists who had for decades been excluded from the AFL-CIO’s strategic discussions. These efforts gave rise to widespread hopes that organized labor might help ignite a broad, national movement for social and economic justice. On the twentieth anniversary of the journal’s founding, we will host an assessment of those earlier ambitions, examining the complex reasons why they have borne such meager results. We will also examine the current challenges and possibilities for building a progressive movement capable of confronting a thoroughly financialized economy of highly concentrated wealth, precarious work and unabated racial disparity, and a political system in the vice grip of corporate interests in which a multi-racial working-class alliance remains a distant hope.


Stephen Lerner – Organizing in the New Economy: What are the principal features of the new economy that workers and working-class communities must now confront? What does this suggest about new forms that organizing should take?

Phil Thompson and Liza Featherstone – Debate: What is required to build a multi-racial working-class political movement?

A conversation about workers, communities and social justice

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