New Labor Forum Highlights: May 15, 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.

One of the enduring conversations of the 2016 election is the significance of the white working- class Trump vote. According to some pundits, this vote drew much of its impetus from economic decline characteristic of the rust belt. New Labor Forum’s Michael Zweig writes about White Working-Class Voters and the Future of Progressive Politics. One major issue he raises is the difficulty of identifying precisely what we mean by ‘working-class,’ as well as the extent to which class anxiety versus racial animosity motivated their support for Trump. An excellent data-filled companion piece is the PRRI/The Atlantic report on the WWC. Using large data sets and prominent academic researchers, this report indicates that economic fatalism predicted support for Trump, while economic hardship predicted Clinton support. Greg Sargent of the Washington Post focuses on a specific demographic: the swing voters who moved from Obama to Trump. This group played an outsize role in the 2016 elections. What are they telling Democrats?

The economic nationalism and xenophobia that motivated some working-class Trump supporters has found distinct articulations throughout Europe. The failure of European center and center-left parties to take a stand against the ravages of neo-liberalism has buoyed right-wing populism. Edouard Louis has written a moving essay about the recent French elections describing the feelings of neglect many working-class voters have experienced at the hands of the governing Socialist Party and expect under Macron’s centrist banner En Marche!. This fact, he contends, lead many of them, like his working-class father, who sense their own invisibility to vote for Marine Le Pen.

Table of Contents

  1. White Working-Class Voters and the Future of Progressive Politics / Michael Zweig, New Labor Forum
  2.  Beyond Economics: Fears of Cultural Displacement Pushed the White Working Class to Trump / Daniel Cox, Rachel Lienesch, Robert P. Jones / PRRI, The Atlantic
  3. Why Did Trump Win? New Research by Democrats Offers Worrisome Answer / Greg Sargent, New York Times
  4. Why My Father Votes for Le Pen / Edouard Louis, New York Times

Photo by Lorie Shaull via flickr (CC-BY-SA)

Event: Diversity Scholarship Awards & Reception (5/25)

The annual Joseph S. Murphy Diversity in Labor Scholarship, Awards & Reception will take place May 25, 6-8:30pm at the CUNY Graduate Center, Elebash Recital Hall at 365 5th Ave, New York, NY 10016.

Join us as we introduce our 2017 scholarship recipients, who will commence their studies in the 2017-2018 academic year. We’ll also be honoring rising labor and community leaders whose efforts to win rights for under-represented workers have been marked by extraordinary dedication and commitment: Modesta Toribio of Make the Road and Kendall Fells of Fight for $15.

Modesta Toribio, Senior Organizer, Make the Road New York

Modesta Toribio is a Senior Organizer at Make the Road New York. In that capacity, she directs the organization’s Workplace Justice project, which organizes workers to fight against daily abuses they face on the job. In her work, Modesta advises workers about their rights on the job and mobilizes support for coalitional campaigns, including the Fight for $15 and movements against wage theft.  Modesta started as an organizer with the WASH New York campaign, which sparked the fight to improve working conditions in the car wash industry throughout New York City. In June 2016, she helped workers in four New York and New Jersey car wash establishments win $1.6 million in a wage-theft law suit. Since then, her work has contributed to changing the lives of countless exploited workers. Modesta’s work has been recognized in the mainstream media, including The New York Times which celebrated her work with “carwasheros” in our community. Modesta holds a Degree in teaching from the Technological University of Santiago (UTESA) in the Dominican Republic. In addition to putting limitless hours into her work for social justice, Modesta Toribio is also raising two children.

Kendall Fells, National Organizing Director, Fight for $15

Kendall Fells is National Organizing Director of Fight for $15, the movement of fast-food, home care, child care and other underpaid workers fighting for $15 an hour and union rights. In 2012, Kendall trained a team of new community organizers who helped to mobilize the first-ever strike of fast-food workers, which took place in New York City. Months later, he helped to organize a second New York City strike, which brought twice as many workers onto the streets as the initial walkout. These two strikes ultimately sparked a broad movement for $15 an hour and union rights that has spread to 320 cities around the U.S. and 40 countries. That movement has been embraced by the Black Lives Matter movement as well as by unions around the country.

Fight for $15 has been extraordinarily successful in convincing voters, politicians, and corporations to raise pay. Since 2012, Fight for $15 has spurred wage hikes for 22 million underpaid workers, including more than 10 million who are on their way to $15 an hour. Kendall Fells has appeared as a spokesperson for Fight for $15  on numerous news outlets, including  MSNBC, CBS News, and Fox News.

Donations and tickets purchases can be made here.

Event: Immigration Politics in the Trump Era (5/11)

Date: May 11th, 2017
Time: 10am-6pm
Location: Murphy Institute, 25 W. 43rd St., 18th Floor

RSVP HERE

Co-sponsored by the Scholars Strategy Network and Murphy Institute

This all-day conference will assess the unfolding immigration crisis, highlighting the perspectives of labor unions, worker centers, community organizations, and local government. The Trump administration’s efforts to restrict immigration, expand deportations, thwart sanctuary cities, and intensify border enforcement mark dramatic shifts in immigration politics and policies. This event convenes a range of national and local experts and leaders to explore the implications of these national shifts, especially for local immigrant communities and the possibilities for resistance.

Program

10:00am: Introductions and coffee

10:30am-12:00pm: Background and Context

Speakers:

  • Muzaffar Chishti – Migration Policy Institute, Director of MPI’s office at NYU School of Law
  • Mae Ngai – Columbia University, Professor of History and Lung Family Professor of Asian American Studies

Moderator: Ruth Milkman, CUNY Graduate Center & Murphy Institute

12:00-1:00pm: Lunch (Provided)

1:00-2:30pm: Labor Responses

Speakers:

  • Esther Lopez – United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, International Secretary-Treasurer
  • Eliseo Medina – Service Employees International Union, Former International Secretary-Treasurer
  • Gonzalo Mercado – National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), New York City Regional Coordinator, and Executive Director at La Colmena – Staten Island Community Job Center
  • Javaid Tariq – New York Taxi Workers Alliance, Co-Founder and Senior Staff
  • Modesta Toribio – Make the Road New York, Senior Organizer

Moderator: Ed Ott, Murphy Institute/CUNY, Distinguished Lecturer of Labor Studies

2:30-3:00pm: Break

3:00-4:30pm: Community and Local Government Responses

Speakers:

  • 
Anu Joshi – NY State Immigrant Action Fund, Deputy Director
  • Abraham Paulos – Families for Freedom, former Executive Director
  • Donna Schaper – Judson Memorial Church, Senior Minister
  • Monica Sibri – CUNY DREAMers, Founder, and New York Fellow at IGNITE National

Moderator: Els de Graauw, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Baruch College-CUNY

4:30-6:00pm: Closing Reception

Excelsior: Free Tuition for Whom?

By Steve Brier

If you’ve at all been confused about or even impressed by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s widely touted Excelsior Scholarship program that was just voted into law by the New York State legislature, a good place to start to deal with your questions and concerns is Lauren Gurley’s article in the May issue of The Indypendent, “Free Higher Ed for a Few.”

Gurley’s piece reveals the ways Excelsior serves as a giveaway to NY State’s middle class taxpayers — especially those who would like to send their kids to SUNY schools — while denying real and much-needed support to CUNY’s working-class and poor students who will hardly benefit from Excelsior, given the scholarship’s extremely restrictive terms. Cuomo is trying to burnish his progressive credential in anticipation for his 2020 run for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president.

Gurley interviewed me at length for the piece and I’m quoted a few times, including the final statement:

“We made a commitment as a nation in the post-World War II period that public education would be free and available to everyone who was interested in pursuing it. And we created institutions like city colleges, junior colleges and state colleges […] It was a different world. And that is the world, I would argue, that we should go back to.”

For the full article, visit The Indypendent.

You can also listen to Lauren Gurley´s article on iTunes or Soundcloud as part of a the new Indy Audio podcast, where you can listen to articles from The Indypendent.

 

Photo by MTA via flickr (CC-BY)

 

Tom Cat Workers Resist

This article was originally featured at the Indypendent.

By Astha Rajvanshi

Workers at Tom Cat Bakery start kneading the day’s first loaves inside a Queens factory at 6 a.m. Soon after, the industrial-scale bakery begins delivering 400 varieties of baked goods to hotels, supermarkets, food chains and Starbucks locations across New York City.

One of the bakers, Sabino Milian, a 40-year-old Guatemalan native, came to New York 17 years ago looking for work. Hurricane Mitch struck Milian’s hometown in 1998, leaving his parents helpless and vulnerable. He needed to support them financially. New York presented a land of opportunities, Milian told The Indypendent through a Spanish interpreter. He began working for Tom Cat in 2006 and never had any problems with his bosses.

In March, however, a manager called Milian into his office and told him the company was subject to an ongoing audit by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Milian, along with 30 other workers, were given 10 days to prove they possessed proper documentation to legally work in the country. If they failed to do so, they would be fired. Continue reading Tom Cat Workers Resist

Murphy Student Presses Mayor About Housing Policy

On Monday, the Road to City Hall held a special town hall at the CUNY TV studios on New York and President Trump’s first 100 days featuring Mayor Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate Letitia James and others. Current BA in Urban and Community Studies program student Michele Holmes attended and asked a question of the mayor about public housing evictions. Check it out here, starting around the 22:40 mark.

A conversation about workers, communities and social justice

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