Hillary Clinton’s commitment to civil rights

This article originally appeared on The Hill.

By Basil Smikle Jr.

On a subfreezing morning in January 2003, then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) walked to the pulpit of Trinity Baptist Church’s Martin Luther King Day celebration in the Bronx to make a startlingly rousing speech to their predominantly African-American congregation. Typically, such speeches are principally aspirational — they acknowledge that society has largely rebuked racial discrimination’s ugly past but urge steadfastness in tackling challenges that lay ahead. But it was Clinton’s stirring repudiation of Trent Lott, then the Republican Senate Majority Leader from Mississippi who a month earlier praised Strom Thurman’s 1948 pro-segregation presidential campaign, that enthused the audience. Her remarks suggested changes in leadership alone will not eradicate racism and discrimination but the rigidity of the pathways to political and economic enfranchisement must acquiesce to the strength inherent in this country’s diversity. Continue reading Hillary Clinton’s commitment to civil rights

American Airlines and US Airways Service Agents Vote to Join Union

This month, service agents at the recently-merged American Airlines and US Airways held a combined union election, voting on whether or not to join CWA-IBT, a joint union of the Communications Workers of America and the Teamsters. The stakes were high: an upvote would mean the un-unionized American Airlines would join in US Airways workers’ collective bargaining. A downvote would have lost US Airways workers their contract.

Fortunately, 86% voted in favor of unionizing, empowering the existing union and finally granting union status to American Airlines employees, who tried unsuccessfully to unionize last year.

For more on this historic vote, check out Dave Jamieson’s article, American Airlines, US Airways Workers Vote Overwhelmingly To Join Union.

Photo by Matt Hintsa via flickr (CC-BY-NC-ND).

New Report Shows Connection Between Sea Level Rise, Affordable Housing

This weekend, over 300,000 people took to the streets to demand action on climate change. Many of the protesters took pains to demonstrate that climate change and global warming are not “just” environmental issues — they are closely connected to issues of labor, civil rights and housing, too.

In a report recently released by the Center for New York City Neighborhoods, Murphy Institute instructor Samuel Stein connects the risk of rising sea levels to the question of affordable homeownership. New York City’s coastal areas are home to tens of thousands of single family homeowners, and a large portion of them are working and middle class. For decades, city planning decisions made the waterfront the site of not just public housing, but low-income home ownership opportunities. Today, both climate change and rising flood insurance costs threaten to displace these homeowners, and could compound the city’s affordable housing crisis.

In their report, “Rising Tides, Rising Costs: Flood Insurance and New York City’s Affordability Crisis,” Samuel Stein and Caroline Nagy explore this dilemma through quantitative research, historical narratives, homeowner and policy-maker interviews, informative graphics and more.

Photo by John De Guzman via flickr (CC-BY-ND).

Basil Smikle on MSNBC

Basil Smikle Jr. has been an Adjunct Professor at the Murphy Institute for over six years, teaching classes under the umbrella of Urban Studies in the Public Administration Certificate in Policy Analysis and Government, Politics and the Policy-Making Process.

This weekend, he appeared on MSNBC to discuss the Democratic party and the 2016 Presidential Election.

Check out Part I and Part II.

Labor and the People’s Climate March

Photo shows Master’s degree alum Bill Cali marching with the Committee of Interns and Residents, SEIU.

By Stephanie Luce

Murphy faculty, staff and students were among the over-310,000 people who participated in the People’s Climate March on September 21. Labor unions first gathered for a rally at 57th Street and Broadway before the march began, and union leaders and members spoke about the importance of the march and the issue of climate change.

Many union members were impacted directly or indirectly by Superstorm Sandy, and they are eager for the city to make necessary changes to prevent future storms from having a catastrophic impact. Continue reading Labor and the People’s Climate March

Congratulations to Ai-jen Poo!

By Stephanie Luce

Ai-jen Poo, the Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and Co-Director of Caring Across Generations, was selected for the prestigious 2014 Macarthur “Genius” Fellowship. The Murphy Institute has been a long-time admirer of Ai-jen’s work, including her efforts to help win the passage of the New York State Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights in 2010. Last year, Ai-jen was one of six recipients of the Murphy Institute’s Emerging Leaders Award. Ai-jen also serves on the advisory board of the New Labor Forum, and she is the author of the New Labor Forum article, “A Twenty-First Century Organizing Model: Lessons from the New York Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Campaign,” which appeared in February 2011. We are thrilled that the Macarthur committee recognized Ai-jen’s brilliance and the importance of her work. Continue reading Congratulations to Ai-jen Poo!

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