Community Organizing with WE ACT

Last fall, the Murphy Institute launched a B.A. in Urban and Community Studies. The program focuses on public policy, the delivery of services, and improving the quality of life for communities and working-class populations. Students in the program use methods and perspectives from sociology, economics, political science, history, and anthropology to analyze the conditions of cities, neighborhoods, and communities within a globalizing economy and culture. Our students have opportunities for experiential and applied learning, including fieldwork and workplace-based projects in New York City — our classroom.

Etinosa Emokpae is one of our students and had a chance this summer to intern at a community-based organization in Harlem that engages residents to address environmental justice/public health issues and find solutions. In this piece, she shares some of her impressions.

I’d like to recount my amazing experience in the Urban Studies Fieldwork seminar, which was co-taught by Professors James Steele and Eve Baron. The seminar allows students to intern at a public agency or community organization that fits their interests. Continue reading Community Organizing with WE ACT

The Labor Question

By Joshua Freeman

In a Labor Day op-ed article in the NY Daily News, I argued that even as unions have suffered a series of setbacks and continue to slip in the percentage of workers they represent, labor issues are more prominent now than at any time in the recent past. What we are seeing might be called the re-emergence of “the labor question.” (New York is somewhat exceptional because, as the Murphy Institute’s Ruth Milkman and Stephanie Luce show in a forthcoming study reported in The New York Times, union membership in the city has been rising significantly of late.)

“The labor question” was once a common term, widely used in the early 20th century. On the simplest level, it asked how orderly relations could be maintained between employers and employees, preventing the outbursts of labor strife that had become common in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Continue reading The Labor Question

NYTimes: Union Rates Rebounding Over 18-Month Period

On Labor Day this year, Murphy faculty members Ruth Milkman and Stephanie Luce were quoted in a New York Times article entitled Study Suggests a Rebound for Union Jobs in New York. The article describes the pair’s research findings around trends in union membership in New York City, referencing their recent “State of the Unions” report — which notes a “pretty healthy uptick” in the number of union workers in New York City. 

Read the full report here.

Welcome Fall 2014 JSMI Students!

We are excited to welcome incoming Fall 2014  students to The Murphy Institute this week! Below is  a reflection from Palma Dellaporta, a PSC member and a registrar at Brooklyn College, who attended the Urban Studies MA orientation last Saturday.

[The Urban Studies MA Orientation this past Saturday] was a comprehensive event that not only left me feeling like I had all the information I needed, but truly supported.The most striking aspect of the day was how genuinely interested in the students everyone was. Their interest was not only about our studies, but about our lives, what brought us to the program, and what our expectations were. The encouragement, kindness, wealth of knowledge, and the true welcome made me sure I have found my academic home for the next two years. Additionally, the diversity of my cohort is wonderful. I am energized, anxious to get to work, and looking forward to what this program will bring to my life overall.
Welcome Fall 2014 Students!

Should Labor Boycott Israel?

Whose Side Are You On?

By Andrew Ross

The BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) campaign is shaping up as one of these historical moments when everyone has to choose which side they are on. Trade unionists have good reason to know what this feels like. Labor history is punctuated with similar contests, when nuanced views on strategy have run their course and we are left with a stark moral choice. For too long, the debate about how best to oppose the occupation of Palestine has been clouded, often intentionally, by strenuous deliberations over tactics. As for those in official positions, the formidable sway of pro-Zionist lobbying has been disturbingly effective. Elected politicians have AIPAC watching their every move, and high officialdom within the AFL-CIO has the Jewish Labor Committee (JLC) to placate. As Richard Trumka put it plainly at a JLC dinner gathering in 2009: “Tonight, let me tell you that, so long as I’m president, you will never have a stronger ally than the AFL-CIO. That’s why we’re proud to stand with the JLC to oppose boycotting Israel.”

Read The Full Debate Here

Engage, Don’t Divest from Israel
By Jo-Ann Mort

Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and its continued control of movement in Gaza is unjust and inhumane. It must be ended as quickly as possible. Israel and Palestine must exist as two states side by side. How can this be achieved? I don’t believe that boycotting

Israel, or the overall BDS prescription for change, is the correct response—not for the labor movement, nor for other movements or individuals.

The current Israeli government is a right-wing government with a smattering of centrist parties devolved from a very complex—and partly dysfunctional—parliamentary system. I don’t support it. But boycotting this government will only make it stronger. That’s because the tendency inside Israel—and especially on the right—is to hunker down in response to boycotts. Poll numbers rise for the right when there are visible attacks on Israel, and savvy politicians—especially Israel’s Prime Minister—make ample use of these opportunities to strengthen their own base at the expense of the left.

Read The Full Debate Here

Photo by ☪yrl via flickr (CC-BY-NC).

Cities Are Embracing the Worst Idea to Come Out of Ferguson

This article was originally posted in Quartz.

By Basil Smikle Jr.

Earlier this week, Missouri governor Jay Nixon ended the curfew imposed on the community of Ferguson over the weekend. Residents had been required to be indoors between midnight and 5 am.

It’s not surprising but it’s one of many moves authorities got wrong in their reaction to riots over the shooting death of Michael Brown.

The toxicity of curfews in the St. Louis suburb sparked additional and perhaps retaliatory unrest. The governor’s decision to restrict the movement of Ferguson’s mostly black population exacerbated long-simmering anger toward law enforcement, roiled community leaders, and extended confrontations with residents. Establishing this curfew was only one of many missteps by a clearly overwhelmed police department.

And yet, alarmingly, the tactic itself is gaining acceptance in major American cities.
Continue reading Cities Are Embracing the Worst Idea to Come Out of Ferguson

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