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

What’s Next for NYU Graduate Students Union?

In a recent article published in Labor Notes, Natasha Raheja, a third-year PhD student in Anthropology at New York University and a member of GSOC-UAW, celebrates the recent win for NYU’s graduate students, who, she writes, “are poised to again become the only private sector student workers with a union contract in the U.S.”

She then challenges her union to go further than it has,

“calling for more transparency and for building strength through member participation. We want to revive our organizing committee, hold biweekly open member meetings, and send members regular detailed updates. We want to end closed-door negotiations without student workers present and promptly replace our three resigned bargaining committee members.”

She explores some of the recent internal issues she sees the union facing — including a narrow focus and a lack of democracy — before concluding that:

“As the first unionized graduate student workers at a private university in the United States, we at NYU have the opportunity to create a model, good or bad. A member-led contract victory will reverberate across the academic labor movement.”

Read Raheja’s full statement at Labor Notes.

Photo by Michael Gould-Wartofsky via Labor Notes

Developers and Labor Face Off at City Planning Commission Hearing

Labor and the city came together yesterday when the Astoria Cove development came up for public hearing at the NYC Department of City Council as part of the Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP). For those unfamiliar with the proposed development, Astoria Cove is Alma Realty’s 30-years-in-the-making development, with plans to build five mixed-use buildings in Hallets Point for a total of approximately 1,700 apartments, along with a bevy of retail stores — and it hasn’t been finding many allies.
Continue reading Developers and Labor Face Off at City Planning Commission Hearing

Responses to Nick Unger’s “Another Look at Labor in Dark Times – Part 3”

On July 3rd, we posted Part III of Nick Unger’s series on union structures, labor history and union member consciousness. What follows is a response to that piece.

From Martin Morand, Professor Emeritus, Industrial and Labor Relations, Indiana University of Pennsylvania:

Nick’s (rare?) compliment (“Morand is right”) encourages me to plunge in and ahead.

Yes, “The Wagner Act promise of ‘labor peace through collective bargaining’ rings hollow.” How come? Not just because, “….we stopped using the tools that worked” — the sit down and general strikes — but because Wagner Never gave us ANYTHING MORE than the right to say to the boss, a la Oliver Twist, “Please sir, may I have some more?” It never gave a union a contract nor a worker a dime — except where, backing it up, was the power and threat of a strike. We became seduced and addicted to a process, to recognition of our right to exist, to legitimacy. To nothing more substantive than that.
Continue reading Responses to Nick Unger’s “Another Look at Labor in Dark Times – Part 3”

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