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New Labor Forum Highlights: Jan 8th, 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.

Given the breakneck pace of developments in our national politics, we turn attention in this installment of the newsletter to important developments in South Africa. Cyril Ramaphosa − the heroic anti-apartheid union leader who metamorphosed as a business tycoon during the Mandela presidency – has now been elected to lead the African National Congress. This makes it all but certain he’ll become the next President of South Africa, given the ANC’s continued (though somewhat depleted) electoral dominance.

Here we offer a telling description, by New Labor Forum author Rajendra Chetty, of the role Ramaphosa played in the tragic Marikana massacre in which 34 striking miners were killed, 78 wounded, and 259 arrested at the Lonmin-owned platinum mine on August 16, 2012. We also offer a statistical context for understanding the conditions confronting poor and working-class South Africans today. Among the most urgent of facts are the current soaring rates of unemployment, particularly among young South Africans, which some scholars peg at nearly 50 percent.  This has contributed mightily to the snail’s pace of economic improvement for black South Africans since the country’s independence, pictured in a chart below. We end with a set of policy recommendations by Kuben Naidoo, who insists South Africa’s leaders must confront the reality that “economic growth” does not lead to decreased inequality, and may exacerbate it. His recommendations grapple with a number of issues that merit the attention of U.S. activists and policy makers, given our own history of racialized oppression and decades of burgeoning inequality.

Table of Contents

  1. The Marikana Massacre: Insurgency and Counter-Insurgency in South Africa: Rajendra Chetty/ New Labor Forum
  2. Charts on South Africa’s continued social and economic inequality 
  3. It doesn’t end with Piketty – five policies that could reduce inequality: Kuben Naidoo/ Mail & Guardian

Photo by GovernmentZA via flickr

Calling All Applicants: 2018 Diversity Scholarship

To be eligible for the Diversity Scholarship, you must apply to and be accepted into the MA in Labor Studies, or the BA in Urban and Community Studies, labor concentration.

MA or BA application deadlines:  11:59 pm, February 20th, 2018

For information about the MA and BA programs and applications, please contact:

  • Graduate applicants contact Laurie Kellogg, Labor Programs Specialist. Please text or call day or eve: 718-440-1550 or email Laurie.Kellogg@cuny.edu.
  • Undergraduates contact Cherise Mullings, Enrollment Specialist, Urban Studies, at 212-642-2059 or at Cherise.Mullings@cuny.edu.

Please attend an Open House at 6 pm on January 18, 2018,  at The Murphy Institute, 25 West 43rd St., 18th Floor, NYC.

Become a better advocate for labor rights and social justice!

The Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies at the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) is seeking applicants for the Diversity Scholarships, which are dedicated to supporting diversity in leadership in the labor movement and in the field of Labor Studies.

Applications for the BA and MA programs are due: February 20th, 2018.  Scholarship applications will be due one month later, on March 20th

If you’re seeking to make a difference, advocating for social justice in your community, workplace, or the world, then the Joseph S. Murphy Scholarship for Diversity in Labor will help you achieve those goals. As a scholarship recipient, you will:

  • Earn an MA in Labor Studies or BA in Urban and Community Studies
  • Explore the dynamics of worker and community empowerment, urban life, and labor organizing
  • Strengthen your ability to advocate for labor rights, stronger communities, and social justice
  • Advance professionally and personally in a supportive environment
  • Receive up to $30,000 for graduate study or up to $20,000 for undergraduate study

Eligibility Requirements

  • For graduate scholarship: First-time entering students in the MA in Labor Studies degree program with a minimum 3.0 GPA
  • For undergraduate scholarship: First-time entering students or continuing students in the BA in Urban and Community Studies degree program (labor concentration) with 60 prior credits  and a minimum 2.5 GPA

Please visit the Murphy Institute website for more information:  www.WorkerEd.org 212-642-2083.

Applications for the Diversity Scholarship are due March 20, 2018.  For more information contact scholarship coordinator, Janet Leslie at 212-642-2083

Preparing a Public Pathway to Renewable Energy: TUED Working Paper #10

Why a profit-based approach to renewable energy is failing to deliver the energy transition, and why we urgently need to pursue public alternatives.

By Sean Sweeney and John Treat

Why, in a world awash with “idle capital” and in desperate need for a just energy transition to a renewables-based system, are global investment levels in renewable energy so out of sync with climate targets?

In the previous TUED Working Paper #9, Energy Transition: Are We Winning?, we raised in passing the serious investment deficit in renewable energy, in the context of a broader examination of overall trends with the global energy system and greenhouse gas emissions. In this paper, we have taken on the investment question directly and in detail. Continue reading Preparing a Public Pathway to Renewable Energy: TUED Working Paper #10

New Labor Forum Highlights: Nov. 13th, 2017

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.

While important revelations of workplace sexual harassment committed by men in the entertainment industry continue to come to light, we take this occasion to consider the ubiquitous and nearly invisible harassment faced by the women who are most tethered to their jobs and least able to access legal remedies. They labor in fast food joints, hotels, secretarial jobs, farms, hospitals, and night shift janitorial jobs. For a host of reasons, their sexual harassment, assault and rape go largely unreported.* This abuse sometimes motivates them to organize, says New Labor Forum Editorial Member Kate Bronfenbrenner,  “But it can be a reason women don’t organize,” she explains in a Boston Globe article on sexual harassment within unions. Lin Farley, journalist, author, and coiner of the term “sexual harassment,” suggests that employers may also use sexual harassment to fend off union drives: “You have young girls, working-class kids for the most part, trying to get jobs in fast food places, because they have to work. And you have fast food managers systematically using sexual harassment to keep turn-over high, so they don’t have to unionize, they don’t have to give high wages. . . . Its one of the huge scandals going on in America today.” Continue reading New Labor Forum Highlights: Nov. 13th, 2017

Jail Workers & the Fight to Close Rikers

The fight to close the Rikers Island Jail complex has received renewed attention since Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan last March to close down the facility in the next 10 years. Many have welcomed the moved, but one group has expressed resistance: correctional officers.

In a recent article in the Daily News, Brooklyn College sociology professor Alex Vitale argues that this resistance is misguided:

Corrections unions face a difficult challenge in the months and years ahead. Do they continue to defend a broken institution in the hopes of saving jobs or do they look for concrete ways to ensure that the people who work at Rikers have secure economic futures?

The irony of this dilemma is that the men and women who work at Rikers know better than almost anyone what a failed institution it is. They see day in and day out the deteriorating infrastructure, inadequate management, and culture of violence that organizes their daily work life. Continue reading Jail Workers & the Fight to Close Rikers