Tag Archives: feature

Video: From Economic Crisis to Economic Democracy

In honor of the birthday of W.E.B. Du Bois, who amidst other great accomplishments authored Economic Co-operation Among Negro Americans in 1907, the Murphy Institute hosted a forum on Friday, February 28th to explore the stories, struggles and successes of workers who have taken control and bettered their lives through the cooperative history of African-American communities, and ask how we can apply those lessons to contemporary struggles locally and around the globe.

Missed the forum, or want to re-watch it? Check out video coverage from the event below:

We invite you keep this conversation going.

Join us at the bi-annual Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy, June 9-11, 2017 in NYC.

If you’d like to deepen your study of economic democracy, consider enrolling in our fall course, “Economic Democracy Against Economic Crisis: Work and Wealth in the Next Economy.” Please contact Rebecca Lurie, Program Director for Murphy Institute’s Community & Worker Ownership Project for more information: 212- 642-2080 or rebecca<dot>lurie<at>cuny<dot>edu.

EVENT: Sanctuary Cities: Growing Powerful Communities (3/3)

Last month, San Francisco became the first US city to sue the Trump administration over its executive order cutting off federal funding to sanctuary cities. Indeed, sanctuary cities have become a beacon of hope for progressive communities hoping to build up their resistance to the Trump administration’s regressive and havoc-wreaking immigration policies.

But what, exactly, are sanctuary cities. And, as a sanctuary city, how can NYC effectively defend itself against the threats of the new reality?

Join the Pratt Center for Planning and the Environment and NYC Environmental Justice Alliance this Friday, March 3rd, 2017 from 6-8pm forSanctuary Cities For All: Growing Powerful Communities in Uncertain Times,” the second part in a 4-session series about the populism and the Trump administration’s first 100 days:

New York City has historically played the role of Sanctuary City, to the nation, and to the world.

As a premiere global city, it boasts one of the world’s most diverse populations. For many, the example of successful and prosperous coexistence of diversity embodied in NYC’s cultural, social, and economic fabric serves as a critical global symbol of the power of pluralism as a local and global ideal in action.

This strength, however, comes as the result of great historical and contemporary struggle. From the legacies of civil rights triumphs, the global village, and progressive visions of pluralism, NYC’s balance for equality and equity requires constant vigilance, collaboration, and action to defend empowerment.

This panel will bring together leaders from NYC’s diverse community to discuss what it means to be a Sanctuary City in action – not only word.  We will explore what it takes to grow powerful communities and social cohesion and urban systems that support this important work – in the face of uncertain and targeted circumstances. 

Speakers include:

  • Mark Winston Griffith, Executive Director, Brooklyn Movement Center,
  • Nisha Agarwal, Commissioner, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs,
  • Roberto “Mukaro” Borrero, Taíno Nation, and
  • Peter L. Markowitz, Professor of Law, Director, Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic, Cardozo School of Law

How Will Farmworkers Fare Under New EPA Leadership?

While labor assesses the dangers and opportunities presented by the Trump administration,  a sometimes-overlooked threat to farmworkers’ safety looms: potential cuts to environmental regulation. As James Trimarco and J. Gabriel Ware write in YES! Magazine:

“[New EPA head Scott] Pruitt’s positions on climate change have been widely reported. Less well-known are the threats that his approach to the EPA is likely to pose to farmworkers, a group that is inextricably tied to the environment and the climate. These workers, more than half of whom are undocumented, are already busy fighting against President Trump’s promised deportations—but they say they’re prepared to lobby for climate justice, as well.

Part of the problem is that the farmworkers are “invisible,” says Jeannie Economos, the health and safety project coordinator at the Florida Farmworker Association. Most Americans have little contact with farmworkers, which makes the impact climate change will have on them hard to understand.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not there. As temperatures climb, farmworkers are among the most exposed. Farmworkers are four times more likely to be affected by heat stress, according to an ongoing study by the Economos’ organization. Plus, Economos says, climate change is already increasing crop diseases and pests, which threaten farmworkers’ jobs.”

With the rise in pests comes the rising use of pesticides — which, over extended exposure, can be harmful to farmworkers:

“…the EPA sets the national rules for pesticide exposure. Those standards were strengthened in 2015 after many years of organizing by farmworkers and their allies. Margaret Reeves, senior scientist with the Pesticide Action Network, says her group worked on the issue for 15 years before the standards were changed. The new rules included language prohibiting farmworkers under the age of 18 from handling pesticides, requiring more training for those who apply pesticides, and mandating that farmers keep records of the pesticides they use.”

For the full story, including some of the resistance organizing happening by and on behalf of farmworkers, visit YES!

Photo by Alex Proimos via flickr (CC-BY-NC)

Black Communities Leading the Movement for Economic Democracy

By Rebecca Lurie

Black History Month is here — and we must declare Black Lives Matter well beyond any one month.

Dr. Phil Thompson shares some important facts and insights in a recent article in the New Labor Forum, “The Future of Urban Populism: Will Cities Turn the Political Tide? He clearly lays out that the generations of inequality and disparate opportunities between the races stems from capitalism and its use of race as a tool to create and maintain the underclass, slavery, disenfranchisement, mass incarceration, poverty, low mortality rates and economic injustice.

Thompson identifies all the challenges for a new progressivism, and yet notes that, “…change is very possible. There are already hundreds, if not thousands, of small initiatives underway in cities to disrupt or reverse these dominant negative trends.” He then challenges us to make a movement of these efforts. Continue reading Black Communities Leading the Movement for Economic Democracy

Avoiding Concessions Under Trump

In a recent In These Times article (When Raising the Minimum Wage is a Bad Thing), Murphy Prof. Stephanie Luce and Jen Kern warn of the perils of conceding ground on minimum wage in the name of short term gains:

First, we cannot accept short-term gains in the form of a higher wage if they mean concessions that undermine our ability to organize over the long haul. Such concessions could include the ability to form unions, engage in collective bargaining, strike and protest. For example, a minimum wage increase that comes alongside cuts to the Department of Labor’s inspection staff would be a major setback. A minimum wage increase that comes at the price of “right-to-work” provisions would be disastrous.

The minimum wage is a valuable tool for raising the incomes of millions of workers, but it loses much of its value if worker organizations and movements are too weak to enforce the law. It doesn’t help people without jobs and only minimally helps those with few hours of work. Most importantly, minimum wages have the greatest impact when workers have unions to protect their jobs and help them move up to higher paid positions.

Second, we must be wary of attempts to divide our movement. The first minimum wage, which was passed in 1938, excluded domestic workers and farmworkers—occupations that were dominated by African-American workers. Today, the federal law sets a much lower minimum wage for tipped workers—a practice that disproportionately hurts women and people of color. An increase to the minimum wage must benefit everyone, including farmworkers and people who work for tips.

It’s also quite possible that a higher minimum wage could be linked to concessions on policies that impact unemployed workers, through cuts to unemployment benefits and the safety net. If we accept an increase to the minimum wage on these terms, we will drive a further wedge between the so-called “deserving” and “non-deserving” poor. Indeed, our ability to win depends on whether this fight is an inclusive one. 

They remind us:

Our job isn’t to find common ground with Trump or to figure out ways to work with a hostile administration that will put forward terrible deals. Our job is to build organizations and make our movements more powerful.

For more on the role of unions, trade and infrastructure under Trump, read the full article at In These Times.

Photo by Stephen L via flickr (CC-BY-NC)