Since the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in Janus v. AFSCME declared required agency fees for public sector unions unconstitutional, many in the labor world and media are scrambling to ask the question: Can labor unions bounce back after Janus?
According to Labor Notes, the answer is yes — but it will require thought and a plan. The publication just released “Rebuilding Power in Open-Shop America,” offering historical context, a diagnostic tool and a prescription for how workers and their unions can remain strong and regain and rebuild power.
Two years ago I focused my ASA Presidential address on social movements led by Millennials, building on Karl Mannheim’s classic treatise on “The Problem of Generations.” As the first generation of “digital natives,” and the one most directly impacted by the economic precarity that emerged from the neoliberal transformation of the labor market, the Millennial generation has a distinctive life experience and worldview. Disappointed by the false promises of racial and gender equality, and faced with skyrocketing growth in class inequality, Millennial activists embrace an explicitly intersectional political agenda. This generation is the most highly educated one in U.S. history, and indeed it is college-educated Millennials who have been most extensively galvanized into political activism. My address documented their role as the dominant demographic in four high-profile 21st-century social movements: Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, the “Dreamers” and the campus-based activism around sexual assault (which later helped spark the multi-generational “Me Too” movement).
When I researched and wrote that piece, there was little evidence of a significant Millennial presence in the organized labor movement. In fact, young workers have been underrepresented among labor union members for decades, in part because of the scarcity of new union organizing efforts. But now that may be changing. In 2017, over three-quarters of the increase in union membership was accounted for by workers under 35 years old, as a recent Economic Policy Institute post noted. (The total number of U.S. union members in 2017 rose by about 262,ooo over the previous year, although the unionization rate was unchanged.) In addition, survey data show that Millennials express far more pro-union attitudes than their baby boomer counterparts do. Continue reading Millennials and the Labor Movement that Refuses to Die→
The Murphy Institute is offering a small number of tuition-only scholarships for Fall 2018 to both newly-admitted and continuing MA students in Urban Studies and Labor Studies. Students must re-apply each semester to be considered for a scholarship for the next term. (Scholarships and amounts may vary from semester to semester depending on the availability of funds and/or enrollment status.)
Applications are open until 11:59pm on July 12th, 2018. Learn more and apply here.
On May 30th, the Murphy Institute hosted our spring graduation party.
The event was emcee’d by Diana Robinson, who graduated with an MA in Labor Studies, and Racquel Barnes, who graduated with an MA in Urban Studies. Thanks also to MA in Labor Studies graduate, and new father, James Van Nort for his stirring speech.
Some photos from the event are below. A big congratulations to our graduating class of 2018!
Photos by Aaron Lenchner
And congrats to our graduates who attended the CUNY School of Professional Studies commencement ceremony at Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall on Friday June 1st. Some photos of our grads are among those posted on the SPS Facebook page.
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.
In this newsletter, we turn our attention to the suburbs. And for good reason, since that’s where slightly over half of U.S. residents currently live. You may have noticed that today’s suburban dwellers increasingly don’t conform to the mythic image of the suburbanite. By 2013, 61 percent of all immigrants to the U.S. lived in the suburbs, and that percentage continues to increase. And, rather than the prized destination of prolonged efforts to escape urban ghettos, many of these suburbs are where immigrants settle upon arrival. Partly as a result of these trends, the last census showed suburban poverty to have grown at more than twice the rate of urban poverty.
In the current issue of New Labor Forum, Phil Neel describes this new suburban landscape: where once there were only bedrooms and commuter trains, now there are factories, warehouses, distribution centers, and sometimes blasted waste-lands lacking many of the essential services, like child care and public transportation, more common to cities. He argues that one need look no further than Ferguson, Missouri for evidence that conditions now prevalent in suburbs will contain new challenges, as well as new possibilities, to spur movements for social and economic justice. For all of these reasons, anyone interested in the nation’s social and political future would do well to study suburbia. Toward that end, we also offer a recent report on the challenges of suburban poverty by Margaret Weir, as well as a review of Lorrie Frasure-Yokely’s Racial and Ethnic Politics in American Suburbs, the 2016 winner of two national book awards.
The Marilyn Sternglass Writing Award at City College is given for excellence in writing in the English Department’s Language and Literacy program. This semester, that award went to Murphy Writing Center Coordinator Michael Rymer, who holds an MFA in Nonfiction Writing from Sarah Lawrence College and is currently enrolled in the English Master of Arts in Language & Literacy program.
The paper looks at the use of Close Vertical Transcription (CVT) of writing center sessions as a professional development tool. Close Vertical Transcription is a method of transcribing that draws from linguistics, and some writing center professionals advocate for it as an alternative to less rigorous methods because they edit out non-verbal utterances and pauses and have no way or representing interruptions. In the paper I look at the literature on using transcripts in WC professional development (which has been happening since the beginning of writing centers) and I write about using CVT to transcribe a session here.
A conversation about workers, communities and social justice