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
5:30-8pm
Murphy Institute
25 W. 43rd St., 18th Floor, New York, NY

RSVP HERE

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.

Speakers:

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?

Announcing: The Murphy Institute Research Awards Program

Submission deadline:  January 5, 2018

<<APPLICATION LINK>>

Send complete applications to: JSMIAwards@sps.cuny.edu

The Murphy Institute’s Research Awards Program supports original qualitative and quantitative research by CUNY scholars on issues relevant to the labor and social justice movements, both nationally and locally.

Researchers from all academic disciplines are invited to apply. The Awards Program is open to CUNY faculty and Level 3 Ph.D. students (excluding those with appointments at the Murphy Institute). Applicants must submit a CV, a research proposal no longer than 750 words, a budget (up to $10,000) and budget justification. Grant period is March 1, 2018 to February 28, 2019. Awards will be made from tax-levy funds. Work proposed and budgets must be consistent with CUNY policies, including the multiple position policy. All expenses detailed in the budget must be consistent with University policy for the use of tax levy funds (see CUNY Purchasing Guidelines). Proposal award may not replace current funding sources. Funds may not be used to cover faculty release time or other full-time staffing, but may include compensation for part-time research support and fee-for service costs such as transcription.

Proposals should specify the research question, hypotheses, methodology, and the type of publication or other deliverable the applicant plans to produce (beyond the research paper mentioned below). The proposal should also highlight the proposed project’s benefits to the labor and social justice movements, and a dissemination plan. IRB approval will be required for research involving human subjects. Please refer to the CUNY IRB guidelines. Documentation of IRB approval will be required before funds are disbursed to applicants selected for awards. Award recipients will be required to submit a 20-25 page research paper and may be asked to make a public presentation under Murphy auspices.

A committee of Murphy’s full-time and consortial faculty will make the final selection of awardees. Although full consideration will be given to any labor-related topic, preference will be given to proposals that address the three topic areas described below:

Organizing Strategies

With union density rates now below 11 percent, union organizing is often seen as a prerequisite for success in the struggle for social and economic justice. But employer opposition to organizing is formidable, and the political and legal environment presents many other challenges. What is the future for union organizing in this context? What organizing strategies, models, and techniques are most effective in the 21st Century?

Worker Centers and Alt-Labor

There are now over 200 “worker centers” in the United States, which are engaged in non-traditional forms of labor organizing and advocacy, focused on low-wage and immigrant workers in sectors where traditional unions are absent. What are the strengths and weaknesses of worker centers? Under what conditions do they
succeed? How have they influenced the larger labor movement?

Pay Equity

Although pay equity has been on the labor movement and public policy agenda for decades, it remains an elusive goal. Women working full-time, year-round still earn only 80 percent of what men are paid. That is a narrower gap than in the past – in the 1960s it was 59 percent – but much more is needed. Racial disparities in pay also persist. What can be done to address these inequalities? How do they vary across demographic groups? What can organized labor and social justice organizations do to improve the situation?

Awards will be announced in February 2018.

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

New Labor Forum Highlights: Nov 27th, 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.

We are currently marking the 20th year of publication of New Labor Forum. At first glance, the conditions in which we find ourselves today seem a far cry from those that gave birth to New Labor Forum twenty years ago. The journal’s inaugural editorial statement, back in the fall of 1997, began by declaring, “This is a time of hope,” a mood that then felt palpable among labor activists. In the wake of the AFL-CIO’s first ever contested elections in 1995, the New Voice leadership at the federation had proclaimed its commitment to large-scale union organizing and ambitious coalition building with social justice organizations that had also been in decline since the late seventies, but would be essential to resuscitating a movement. At the same time, organized labor began to engage in a rapprochement with and spurred by left intellectuals and progressive political activists who had for decades been excluded from the AFL-CIO’s strategic discussions. All these efforts gave rise to widespread hopes that organized labor might also help fuel a broader, national movement for social and economic justice.

Yet, even in those days, there was a keen sense that the revitalization of the labor movement and the building of working-class political power would be a tough row to hoe. In that same editorial statement of 1997, we acknowledged, “The journal is both a response to this new optimism and a recognition of the difficulties that lie ahead.” The journal therefore went on, for the next two decades, to debate and discuss the thorniest questions at the heart of the hoped for, yet still allusive, revitalization of the labor movement. Those issues included: the financialization of the economy, the dramatic growth of low wage service and precarious work, the decline of strikes, the rise of union busting, burgeoning rates of incarceration,  debates about race and class, immigration policy, feminism and the labor movement, the movement for LGBTQ rights, union democracy and union structure, labor’s marriage to the Democratic Party, labor’s relationship to wars without end, to Occupy Wall Street, and Black Lives Matter, two waves of health care reform, and the climate change crisis. In this installment of our newsletter we offer three such debates we have hosted over the years, and an invitation to you to attend our
20th Anniversary Event on December 8, 2017, 5:30 p.m. at The Murphy Institute.

Table of Contents

  1. Open Borders Debate/ Dan La Botz/ Ana Avendaño
  2. “Identity Politics” Debate/ Walter Benn Michaels/ Alethia Jones
  3. New Voting DemographicsG. Cristina Mora & Michael Rodríguez-Muñiz/ Richard Alba
  4. New Labor Forum 20th Anniversary Event/ The Murphy Institute

Calling All Applicants: 2018 Diversity Scholarship

To be eligible for the Diversity Scholarship, you must apply to and be accepted into the MA in Labor Studies, or the BA in Urban and Community Studies, labor concentration.

MA or BA application deadlines:  11:59 pm, February 20th, 2018

For information about the MA and BA programs and applications, please contact:

  • Graduate applicants contact Laurie Kellogg, Labor Programs Specialist. Please text or call day or eve: 718-440-1550 or email Laurie.Kellogg@cuny.edu.
  • Undergraduates contact Cherise Mullings, Enrollment Specialist, Urban Studies, at 212-642-2059 or at Cherise.Mullings@cuny.edu.

Please attend an Open House at 6 pm on January 18, 2018,  at The Murphy Institute, 25 West 43rd St., 18th Floor, NYC.

Become a better advocate for labor rights and social justice!

The Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies at the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) is seeking applicants for the Diversity Scholarships, which are dedicated to supporting diversity in leadership in the labor movement and in the field of Labor Studies.

Applications for the BA and MA programs are due: February 20th, 2018.  Scholarship applications will be due one month later, on March 20th

If you’re seeking to make a difference, advocating for social justice in your community, workplace, or the world, then the Joseph S. Murphy Scholarship for Diversity in Labor will help you achieve those goals. As a scholarship recipient, you will:

  • Earn an MA in Labor Studies or BA in Urban and Community Studies
  • Explore the dynamics of worker and community empowerment, urban life, and labor organizing
  • Strengthen your ability to advocate for labor rights, stronger communities, and social justice
  • Advance professionally and personally in a supportive environment
  • Receive up to $30,000 for graduate study or up to $20,000 for undergraduate study

Eligibility Requirements

  • For graduate scholarship: First-time entering students in the MA in Labor Studies degree program with a minimum 3.0 GPA
  • For undergraduate scholarship: First-time entering students or continuing students in the BA in Urban and Community Studies degree program (labor concentration) with 60 prior credits  and a minimum 2.5 GPA

Please visit the Murphy Institute website for more information:  www.WorkerEd.org 212-642-2083.

Applications for the Diversity Scholarship are due March 20, 2018.  For more information contact scholarship coordinator, Janet Leslie at 212-642-2083

Preparing a Public Pathway to Renewable Energy: TUED Working Paper #10

Why a profit-based approach to renewable energy is failing to deliver the energy transition, and why we urgently need to pursue public alternatives.

By Sean Sweeney and John Treat

Why, in a world awash with “idle capital” and in desperate need for a just energy transition to a renewables-based system, are global investment levels in renewable energy so out of sync with climate targets?

In the previous TUED Working Paper #9, Energy Transition: Are We Winning?, we raised in passing the serious investment deficit in renewable energy, in the context of a broader examination of overall trends with the global energy system and greenhouse gas emissions. In this paper, we have taken on the investment question directly and in detail. Continue reading Preparing a Public Pathway to Renewable Energy: TUED Working Paper #10

A conversation about workers, communities and social justice

css.php
Need help with the Commons? Visit our
help page
Send us a message
Skip to toolbar