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New Labor Forum Highlights: September 17th, 2018

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.

How far we’ve come since Anita Hill’s riveting testimony during the Clarence Thomas nomination hearings twenty-seven years ago! Now that the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault has come forward, his hasty confirmation appears far less certain. His accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, says she’s willing to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Should she do so, her statements are likely to acquire a heightened credence made possible by the #MeToo movement. With this news in mind, we offer Beyond #MeToo, an article from the current issue of New Labor Forum by social analyst Judith Levine. Levine surveys the working-class branch of the #MeToo movement and assesses the options—from the courts to unions to consciousness raising—available to blue-collar, service, and care workers as they confront widespread workplace sexual harassment.

We also draw your attention to a recent report by The National Women’s Law Project titled, Out of the Shadows: An Analysis of Sexual Harassment Charges Filed by Working Women. This report includes the findings that, between 2012 and 2016, Millenials and Gen Xers filed sexual harassment charges with the EEOC at over double the rate of Baby Boomers; and black women were disproportionately represented among those who filed complaints. Evidence included in the report shows that, although an estimated 87 to 94 percent of those harmed by sexual harassment never file a legal complaint, the tides are now turning.

The National Women’s Law Project has also produced an analysis of The Record of Brett M. Kavanaugh’s Critical Legal Rights for Women, which points to multiple causes for concern to women, people of color, and workers. High on the list of the concerns enumerated in the report would be Kavanaugh’s predisposition toward limiting individual rights. Kavanaugh is quoted saluting former Chief Justice for “stemming the general tide of freewheeling judicial creation of un-enumerated rights that were not rooted in the nation’s history and tradition.” Among those un-enumerated rights, one might argue, are indeed the very constitutional amendments upon which so many of us have come to rely.

Table of Contents

  1. Beyond #MeToo/ Judith Levine, New Labor Forum
  2. Out of the Shadows: An Analysis of Sexual Harassment Charges Filed by Working Women/ Amanda Rossie, Jasmine Tucker and Kayla Patrick, National Women’s Law Center
  3. The Record of Brett M. Kavanaugh on Critical Legal Rights for Women/ National Women’s Law Center

Photo by Charles Edward Miller via flickr (cc-by-sa)

Video: Is a Democratic Capitalism Possible?

On Friday, September 14th, members of the SLU community came together to grapple with the vexing — and structural — questions at the heart of our politics: Can democracy be saved from the grips of capitalism? What factors most threaten meaningful civic engagement and what changes are needed to bolster our democracy and create a more equitable society?

Watch the video here:

Welcome Letter from SLU Dean Greg Mantsios

Dear Friends of the Murphy Institute and the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies;

On this Labor Day weekend, I want to welcome everyone to the new CUNY School for Labor and Urban Studies (SLU).  As you may know, the School traces its roots to the Murphy Institute which was re-constituted as a CUNY School last year. This week, we proudly opened our doors to students under our new name. The Murphy Institute continues as an important unit of the School—one that is focused on public engagement and workforce development.

SLU is the only interdisciplinary program in Labor and Urban Studies in the nation.  With this letter, we are launching the SLU website (slu.cuny.edu). We invite you to explore it for details about SLU’s undergraduate and graduate programs as well as its range of student and community services.

SLU is driven by a set of core values: access to education, diversity at every level, social justice, and equality for all. Our goals are to expand higher education opportunities for workers; prepare students for careers in public service and movements for social justice; promote civic engagement; provide leadership development for union and community activists; and help workers achieve greater economic security.

Labor Day is a perfect time to acknowledge those who have worked so hard to make SLU a reality. First, I want to thank the City University of New York and its Chancellery for having the vision and the political will to create this new School. The idea for SLU was shaped by many individuals and organizations. Our Advisory Board —chaired by Arthur Cheliotes (Manager of CWA 1180) and consisting of 23 unions and community organization—led this effort over a six-year period. They were committed to creating a School for workers and working-class communities and put enormous effort into raising funds to inaugurate and sustain the School. As a result, we have been honored by the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie as well as leading members of the State legislature and the New York City Council (especially Senator Diane Savino and Council Members Daneek Miller and Inez Baron).

Our faculty of distinguished scholars and practitioners has crafted a rich curriculum that examines the world of work and workers from the perspective of urban communities, especially those that have been underserved by government and public institutions.  We also have   a dedicated staff of program administrators and student services experts who spare no effort to help our students succeed in college.  Finally, SLU is nothing without its decades-long history in worker education and without the remarkable students who have established our reputation as a School for change agents. We are proud to thank the many union organizers and administrators, municipal employees, elected officials, researchers, and community advocates who were and are our students.

In our first year of operation, we will focus on building out the School, hiring additional faculty and staff; expanding current programs; and launching new initiatives. We will establish an academic governance structure for the School—one that is faculty-led and includes student and staff representatives. We will serve new constituencies, with higher education opportunities for resident leaders in housing projects and mentors who counsel youth offenders. Our year-long series of public programs rolls out with a September panel on Democracy and Capitalism (featuring NYC Deputy Mayor Phil Thompson); an October panel on New Labor and Community Organizing (with Larry Cohen, former International President of the CWA and now  Board Chair of Our Revolution); and a November Reporters Roundtable analysis of the 2018 midterm elections. Throughout the year, we will be offering our popular Saturday series on civic leadership, a program that prepares activists to run for public office or work on electoral campaigns.

We have an exciting year ahead. No doubt, we will have our challenges.  But with your continuing support, SLU will meet them and rise to greater heights. I want to thank you for being a part of the SLU community, and I look forward to sharing this banner year with you.

Sincerely,

 

Gregory Mantsios, Ph.D

Founding Dean, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies

Event: Is a Democratic Capitalism Possible (9/14)

Friday, Sept 14th, 8:30AM-10:30AM
CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies
25 W. 43rd Street, 18th Floor
New York, NY 10036

RSVP HERE

Inequality is accelerating at an alarming rate as corporate political power is expanding and worker rights and protections are shrinking. The hyper concentration of wealth in the hands of a financial elite has come to dominate politics and shape policy in a manner that has eroded democratic governance at the federal, state, and the municipal levels. Can democracy be saved from the grips of capitalism? What factors most threaten meaningful civic engagement and what changes are needed to bolster our democracy and create a more equitable society?

Speakers Include:

  • J. Phillip Thompson, NYC Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives, including the Mayor’s strategy to encourage greater voter participation and improve the way the city carries out elections, DemocracyNYC; and author of Double Trouble: Black Mayors, Black Communities and the Struggle for Deep Democracy
  • Kim Phillips Fein, Associate Professor, NYU Gallatin School, and author of Invisible Hands: The Businessmen’s Crusade Against the New Deal and Fear City: The New York City Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of the Age of Austerity
  • Maurice Weeks, Co-Executive Director of Action Center on Race & the Economy (ACRE)
  • Moderator: Frances Fox Piven, Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology, CUNY Graduate School, Distinguished Lecturer in Labor Studies, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies

Labor Notes Shares Vision for Organizing in Post-Janus America

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.

Check it out.

Millennials and the Labor Movement that Refuses to Die

This post was originally featured at Mobilizing Ideas.

By Ruth Milkman

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