Supreme Court Won’t Weigh in on Age Discrimination in Hiring Practices

Amid the shockwaves from the Supreme Court yesterday — in particular the decision to allow parts of President Trump’s travel ban to go into effect until the court hears arguments this fall — came a decision that got notably less attention. The court has decided not to hear a case involving age-discrimination, allowing a lower court ruling to stand. From a ProPublica article in March:

For the past half century, federal law has banned employers from discriminating against people based on their age. But since the early 1990s, corporate lawyers and conservative judges have sought to shrink what counts as discrimination, making it substantially harder to prove age bias. […]

The case involves an Atlanta man named Richard Villarreal, who applied online for a sales manager job with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in 2007 and heard nothing. When he applied in subsequent years, he had no better luck.

What Villarreal, who was 49 at the time of his first application, didn’t know was that Reynolds had retained a subcontractor to review the applications, supplying guidelines that led reviewers to discard his resume and those of almost 20,000 other older applicants. Of the roughly 1,000 sales managers the tobacco company hired between 2007 and 2010, when Villarreal was applying, fewer than a score were over the age of 40. After a whistleblower emerged in 2010, Villarreal sued.

The significance of the case is two-fold. It highlights the hurdles for job seekers as hiring has increasingly moved online, where it’s easier for companies to reject whole classes of applicants and harder for people to keep track of their bids for work. And it illustrates how age discrimination protections have been progressively narrowed. The tobacco company’s defense challenges decades of precedent for how the law has been interpreted and enforced. Continue reading Supreme Court Won’t Weigh in on Age Discrimination in Hiring Practices

New Labor Forum Highlights: June 26th, 2017

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.

As summer heats up, even those of us in the northern hemisphere can’t help but ponder the perils of climate change. This crisis should be a top issue for the U.S. labor movement. Yet unified action by organized labor to protect our planet remains constrained by narrow notions of worker self-interest and of solidarity, as well as by public policy that disregards the need for a “just transition” to sustainable energy. Today’s Highlights includes New Labor Forum columnist Sean Sweeney speaking at this year’s People’s Summit in Chicago, arguing for an independent worker’s voice on climate.

We’re also proud to call attention to Climate Solidarity: Workers vs. Warming, a brand new e-book by New Labor Forum Contributing Editor Jeremy Brecher. We have posted a chapter of the book to our website, and the entire book is available for free download. It’s full of insight regarding the practical and ideological obstacles to concerted work within unions to combat climate change, as well as strategic thinking on energizing labor’s climate protection work.

Committed climate activist Naomi Klein’s new book, No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need, notable in part for coming out so quickly after the elections, is reviewed by Hari Kunzru (The Guardian), and we include that here. The book is a clarion call for a politics that accentuates what movements are working towards, rather than what they merely oppose.

Lastly, we’re sharing an article from Wired by Nick Stockton about dogged legal efforts to delay and obstruct the Trump Administration’s environmental efforts.

Table of Contents

  1. Winning Clean Energy & Climate Justice for All / Sean Sweeney, New Labor Forum
  2. Climate Solidarity: Workers vs. Warming / Jeremy Brecher
  3. No Is Not Enough by Naomi Klein (Book Review) / Hari Kunzru, The Guardian  
  4. The Grizzled, Stubborn Lawyers Protecting the Environment From Trump / Nick Stockton, Wired Magazine 

Photo by Jonathan Potts via flickr (CC-BY-NC-ND)

New Labor Forum Highlights: June 12th, 2017

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.

With this installment of Highlights from New Labor Forum, we draw your attention to a roundup of notable books and films you might have missed. We’re grateful to NLF contributor Matt Witt for his excellent curatorial skills, which are a regular feature of his “Out of the Mainstream” for the print journal! Among the books Witt points to in his forthcoming inventory is Look, an arresting book of poetry by Solmaz Sharif. Born in Istanbul to Iranian parents, Sharif is a former participant in Poetry for the People, and arts/activism program founded at UC Berkeley by the late, great poet June Jordan. The sampling of her work included here, offers precise and unforgettable depictions of the dread brought about by our wars on terror.

Table of Contents

  1. Out of the Mainstream: Books and Films You May Have Missed by Matt Witt / New Labor Forum, September 2017 issue
  2. Poems by Solmaz Sharif

Video: Gramsci’s Importance for the Left Today

This year’s Left Forum featured a panel exploring Antonio Gramsci’s work as a major critic of capitalism. Part of a series on major critical thinkers, the panel explored how engagement with Gramsci’s work can advance and sharpen left strategies and tactics in our times. Check it out below.

Featuring:

  • Laura Flanders, The Laura Flanders Show
  • Kate Crehan, Professor Emerita, College of Staten Island and the Graduate Center, City University of New York
  • Chris Hedges, columnist for Truthdig and host of On Contact
  • Richard D. Wolff, Democracy @ Work, Left Forum

Photos: 2017 Murphy Graduation

On May 19th, JSMI hosted our Spring 2017 Graduation Party. A big congratulations to our graduating class of 2017 — and gratitude to all the staff who planned and worked this event.

Current Labor Studies MA student Carmelina Cartei organized a performance to kick off the event, along with performers Elaine Betesh, Naomi Calhoun, Katherine De La Cruz, Susan Epstein,
Anabel Lugones and Sarah Venezia —  and with our own Irene Garcia-Mathes supporting and Rose Imperato on saxophone as well! Photos from the performance and the rest of the graduation celebration are below.

Our thanks as well to our wonderful MC Stacey Payton, who is a Diversity Scholarship recipient and graduated with an MA in Labor Studies. Check out the text from Stacey’s speech, posted in full below the photos.

Continue reading Photos: 2017 Murphy Graduation

Prof. Penny Lewis Releases New Book: The City is the Factory

This month marks the release of The City Is The Factory: New Solidarities and Spatial Strategies in an Urban Age, edited by Murphy Prof. Penny Lewis and Miriam Greenberg.

Urban public spaces, from the streets and squares of Buenos Aires to Zuccotti Park in New York City, have become the emblematic sites of contentious politics in the twenty-first century. As the contributors to The City Is the Factory argue, this resurgent politics of the square is itself part of a broader shift in the primary locations and targets of popular protest from the workplace to the city. This shift is due to an array of intersecting developments: the concentration of people, profit, and social inequality in growing urban areas; the attacks on and precarity faced by unions and workers’ movements; and the sense of possibility and actual leverage afforded by local politics and the tactical use of urban space. Thus, “the city”—from the town square to the banlieu—is becoming like the factory of old: a site of production and profit-making as well as new forms of solidarity, resistance, and social reimagining.

We see examples of the city as factory in new place-based political alliances, as workers and the unemployed find common cause with “right to the city” struggles. Demands for jobs with justice are linked with demands for the urban commons—from affordable housing to a healthy environment, from immigrant rights to “urban citizenship” and the right to streets free from both violence and racially biased policing. The case studies and essays in The City Is the Factory provide descriptions and analysis of the form, substance, limits, and possibilities of these timely struggles.

Contributors:
Melissa Checker, Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York; Daniel Aldana Cohen, University of Pennsylvania; Els de Graauw, Baruch College, City University of New York; Kathleen Dunn, Loyola University Chicago
Shannon Gleeson, Cornell University; Miriam Greenberg, University of California, Santa Cruz; Alejandro Grimson, Universidad de San Martín (Argentina); Andrew Herod, University of Georgia; Penny Lewis, Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies, City University of New York; Stephanie Luce, Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies, City University of New York; Lize Mogel, artist and coeditor of An Atlas of Radical Cartography; Gretchen Purser, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University

Learn more or purchase a copy here.

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