Tag Archives: feature

More Press for Black Silent Majority

Murphy Prof. Michael Fortner’s new book Black Silent Majority: the Rockefeller Drug Laws and the Politics of Punishment has taken the media world by storm, garnering press from publications, radio and television. In addition to coverage in the New Yorker and Chronicle of Higher Ed, the book has been featured in the NYTimes and New York Magazine and on Brian Lehrer.

From Fortner’s own op-ed in the New York Times last week, The Real Roots of 70’s Drug Laws:

Today’s disastrously punitive criminal justice system is actually rooted in the postwar social and economic demise of urban black communities. It is, in part, the unintended consequence of African-Americans’ own hard-fought battle against the crime and violence inside their own communities. To ignore that history is to disregard the agency of black people and minimize their grievances, and to risk making the same mistake again.

Roberta Reardon Named NYS Labor Commissioner

Roberta Reardon, who teaches the Union Leadership course at Murphy, has been appointed as New York State Commissioner of Labor. The Department of Labor is tasked with overseeing state labor regulations, unemployment, and workforce training initiatives.

 Commissioner Reardon is the founding co-President of SAG-AFTRA, a 165,000 member union for the entertainment industry. She is the three-term unanimously elected National President of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA). Reardon also has over thirty-five years of experience as professional actor and has appeared on television and regional and off-Broadway theater.

Her extensive experience in labor negotiations and leadership development made her an ideal fit for the Murphy Labor Studies program. This past spring, Professor Reardon taught the Union Leadership course to CSEA rank-and-file leaders as a part of the CUNY-Cornell Labor Relations Certificate program. She was so popular among her students that on the last night of class, they awarded her an “Oscar” for best teacher.

Congratulations Commissioner Reardon!

News Roundup 9/25/15

The Pope is in NYC, offering a takedown of “exclusion and inequality” while also jamming up traffic. A skilled practitioner in the art of direct action? You decide. In other news:

  • John Boehner resigns from his congressional seat and position as Speaker of the House. (via The Nation)
  • Pharmacy workers at a Target store in Brooklyn have voted to form a “microunion” — making it the first unionized store in Target’s history. Just a day later, the retailer announced a “plan to develop automation systems and replace workers with robots in their retail locations.”
  • Activists in NYC and beyond demonstrated to mark the 4th anniversary of Occupy Wall Street — and to continue the fight for social and economic justice. 
  • Meanwhile, prominent human rights activists in Uzbekistan have been beaten and detained for documenting forced labor in the country’s cotton fields. (via HRW.org)
  • New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo named Roberta Reardon, former official with the AFL-CIO, as the new Labor Commissioner. (via CapitalNewYork.com)
  • Also in New York State, “recent investigations to protect exploited workers […] have led to nearly $3.3 million in back wages, damages and settlements for 800 workers.” (via LaborPress.org)
  • The California waste workers at the center of the NLRB’s joint employer ruling have voted by more than a 4-1 margin to join the Teamsters Union. (via Teamster.org)
  • The struggle continues: more class action complaints have come in regarding the treatment of workers in the on-demand economy, this time at food delivery companies DoorDash and GrubHub in California state court. (via Wired)
  • Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) relaunched last week. A minor schism has appeared between the alt-labor organizing effort and the United Food and Commercial Workers, the original backers of the drive — marking an interesting (if confusing) development in the fight.

Photo by Roadsidepictures via flickr (CC-BY-NC)

Murphy Alumni: Organize, Organize, Organize!

Murphy alumni have been gaining some press as of late.

New York Taxi Workers Alliance staffer and Union Semester alum Ryan Richardson joined cab drivers Bill Lindauer, Victor Salazar, and Asim Akhtar as they heckled Uber CEO Travis Kalanick on the set of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert (via NY Daily News.) Meanwhile, another Union Semester alum, Liam Lynch, was featured on KUT.org for NYCOSH‘s work seeking out 9/11 responders and survivors in Texas and beyond.

Here’s to our vibrant and active alumni community!

New Yorker Coverage of Book by Prof. Michael Fortner

Murphy Institute Professor Michael Fortner’s hotly anticipated new book Black Silent Majority: the Rockefeller Drug Laws and the Politics of Punishment gains yet more coverage with the latest edition of the New Yorker. In Kelefa Sanneh’s review, Body Count, the writer places Fortner’s book in conversation with the latest from Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me) as well as Michelle Alexander’s 2010 book, The New Jim Crow:

This summer, the Black Lives Matter movement got a literary manifesto, in the form of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me” (Spiegel & Grau), a slender but deeply resonant book that made its début atop the Times best-seller list[…]

Four decades ago, a number of black leaders were talking in similarly urgent terms about the threats to the black body. The threats were, in the words of one activist, “cruel, inhuman, and ungodly”: black people faced the prospect not just of physical assault and murder but of “genocide”—the horror of slavery, reborn in a new guise. The activist who said this was Oberia D. Dempsey, a Baptist pastor in Harlem, who carried a loaded revolver, the better to defend himself and his community. Dempsey’s main foe was not the police and the prisons; it was drugs, and the criminal havoc wreaked by dealers and addicts. Continue reading New Yorker Coverage of Book by Prof. Michael Fortner