New Labor Forum Highlights: Feb. 6, 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.

In the short time since Donald Trump was inaugurated, a lot has happened — with the threat of more to come. Among the many Executive Orders signed last week, Trump acted to reverse Obama’s halt on the Keystone and Dakota Pipelines. While EO’s won’t get the pipelines built on their own, it’s a clear signal that on climate policy, things are quickly heading south.

New Labor Forum Columnist Sean Sweeney has written a post about the evolving relationship between some of the Building Trades, the new Administration, and the fossil fuel industry.

Naomi Klein rounds out the topic by pointing out that much of the policy changes we are likely to see under Trump will be driven by the logic of disaster capitalism – that changes the 1% has long desired and planned for, will be rolled out in response to ‘disasters’. Understanding this dynamic is important, as it will apply not only to energy policy, but to national security, labor rights, and more.

Given the tensions in the labor movement around climate policy, we expect (and hope for) vigorous debate — please be sure to visit our Facebook page and/or the blog to participate.

Table of Contents

  1. Pandering to the Predator: Labor and Energy Under Trump / Sean Sweeney
  2. Get Ready for the First Shocks of Trump’s Disaster Capitalism / Naomi Klein
  3. President Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum – The Corporate Connections / LittleSis

Photo by Joe Brusky via flickr (CC-BY-NC)

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)

Is the World Really Moving Away from Fossil Fuels?

From Trade Unions for Energy Democracy:

During 2015 and 2016, a number of significant public and political figures have made statements suggesting that the world is “moving away from fossil fuels,” and that the battle against greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and climate change is therefore being won. Such statements are frequently accompanied by assurances that the transition to renewable energy and a low-carbon economy is both “inevitable” and already well underway, and that economic growth will soon be “decoupled” from dangerously high annual emissions levels. This optimism has also been accepted by a section of the environmental movement, and even by some unions.

Renewables and Reality 

If the “green growth” optimists are correct, the political implications for trade unions and social movements are profound. For unions, it would mean focusing aggressively on the need to protect the livelihoods of the tens of millions of workers around the world who currently work in fossil fuels and rallying around the principle of “just transition” encoded in the preface to the Paris Agreement. But it would also mean that the need to wage a determined and protracted political struggle against fossil fuel expansion and “extractivism” would immediately become less urgent. In this scenario, trade union efforts would rightly focus on working to shape the next energy system as it rises from the ashes of the old. Continue reading Is the World Really Moving Away from Fossil Fuels?

JSMI Consortial Faculty Member Dr. Stephen Brier Wins NYCDH Award

The New York City Digital Humanities group brings together New York City scholars and members of the GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives, museums) community to talk about, experiment with, collaborate on, teach and learn about, and just generally commune around the digital humanities. Recently, the NYCDH launched its annual NYCDH Award, to be given to an individual or organization that has made a significant contribution to digital humanities in the region.

This year’s inaugural award is going to Murphy Institute consortial faculty member Dr. Stephen Brier in recognition of his innovations in new media and public history, the development of important programs in digital pedagogy and humanities, and an unparalleled history of mentoring young scholars and building communities across the region. Dr. Brier will be receiving the first NYCDH Award and giving a keynote speech at the NYCDH 2017 Kickoff Gathering on February 6th.

Congratulations!

Union Cooperatives: What They Are and Why We Need Them

By Simon Taylor

Trade unionist Jimmy Reid described alienation as ‘the frustration of ordinary people excluded from the process of decision-making.’ This frustration is endemic in contemporary neoliberalised economies, and according to commentators, including George Monbiot, it contributes to the rise of populist backlashes and disempowerment.

Unions play a vital role in counter-balancing alienation and frustration, responding to organizations imposing alienating practices on their workers. However, neoliberal policies have contributed to a long-term decline of union membership and influence in the Anglosphere and elsewhere.

But workers and unions can counter alienation and other negative effects of neoliberal policies – such as outsourcing, precarity and union decline – in new and imaginative ways. Continue reading Union Cooperatives: What They Are and Why We Need Them

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