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Special Topics Graduate Class: Worker Cooperatives

The Labor Studies Program invites all CUNY and non‐CUNY
graduate-level students to enroll in our special topics
graduate class:


Facilitated by Immanuel Ness & Christopher Michael

Tuesdays, Sep. 1st to Dec. 22nd, 2015 from 6:15 to 8:45pm

Worker cooperatives have become a compelling alternative to traditional labor‐management forms of labor relations in the 21st century and with the rise of the Global Financial Crisis. The class examines worker control and cooperatives in comparative historical and geographic perspective. We will examine the historical experiences of worker cooperatives throughout the world, their successes, and challenges, and we will also focus on the growing world of worker owned cooperatives in New York City, examining the practical, economic and political aspects of their work. The class will make use of readings, film, and guest speakers with practical expertise in worker control and cooperatives.

NOTE: This graduate course is open to all non‐degree/non‐matriculated students who already hold a Bachelor’s Degree. Current CUNY graduate students should register for the course via E‐Permit @ CUNY Portal and pay tuition to their home college. Once a permit is approved and processed the course will appear on the tuition bill and your course schedule will be generated by the home college. For more information about registration and tuition and fees, please contact Irene.Garcia‐Mathes@cuny.edu / 212‐642‐2050

Photo: Sergey Galyonkin CC-BY-SA

Murphy Scholarship Event: Diversity and Labor

On Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015, the Murphy Institute hosted the third annual Joseph S. Murphy Scholarship for Diversity in Labor reception and awards ceremony. The reception, which began with remarks from CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken and Murphy Director Greg Mantsios, was followed by a formal program featuring three rising leaders in the labor movement: Shaun Francois, President, Local 372, DC 37 AFSCME, Dolly Martinez of the Retail Action Project, and Jonathan Westin of New York Communities for change.

Six students were then awarded full scholarships to attend Murphy programs: Adriane Hudson, Jack Suria Linares, Onieka O’Kieffe, Stacey Payton, Andrea Pluas and Nadya Stevens.

The program ended with a tribute to Arthur Cheliotes, the President of Local 1180, Communication Workers of America, who was presented with the Joseph S. Murphy Lifetime Achievement Award for his significant contributions to the Murphy Institute and to the workers of New York.

Congratulations to all the award recipients and to the growing Murphy community!

Union Semester Students Explore New York City

By Michael Murphy

As part of the Union Semester program at the Murphy Institute, students are enrolled in a course titled “Work, Culture, and Politics in New York City.” The course readings are designed to complement trips to museums, archives, guided tours, and industrial sites such as the Brooklyn Navy Yard, allowing students to take advantage of the wealth of resources offered by the city. Recently, the class visited two outdoor parks that have changed the way New Yorkers think about the potential uses of public space, the built environment, and the waterfront.

First, the class traveled to the High Line in Chelsea to explore the intersection of industry, nature, and economic development. This former elevated railway was transformed into a public park by the nonprofit Friends of the High Line, which generated financial support from private donors and the city. It runs along Tenth Avenue until a sharp turn at West 30th Street allows visitors to meander closer to the Hudson River. During our visit, students were asked to take a photo that connects this unique urban space with the themes of the course. Continue reading Union Semester Students Explore New York City

Summer Graduate Class: Queering Labor

The Labor Studies Program invites you to enroll in our summer graduate class: Queering Labor

June 8 to July 24, T&Th, 6:15-8:45pm

Facilitated by Colin Patrick Ashley

Queering Labor will address the role of economic structures and the question of labor in relationship to sexual identities and sexual desire.  This course will cover the impact of societal divisions of labor and modes of production on the emergence of sexual identity categories. In doing so, we will look at capitalism as an economic system that changed both family structure and urban ways of being and enacting desire. This course will also address the spaces of intersection between the LGBTQ liberation movement and various struggles for economic justice and labor rights.  Special concentration will be placed on how LGBTQ individuals experience the workplace including the multiple forms of inequality they face.  Specifically we will cover the forms of precarity faced by the most marginal members of the LGBTQ community.  Students will analyze how unions have historically addressed the issue of sexual identity and sexual desire as well as theorize the future possibilities of increasing LGBTQ rights alongside economic rights and labor justice.  For information about registration, please contact Irene.Garcia-Mathes@cuny.edu
Colin Patrick Ashley is a PhD candidate in the Sociology Program at the Graduate Center of CUNY and is a member of the Africana Studies, Women’s Studies, and LGBT/Queer Studies Certificate/Concentration programs. As well as being a student leader he is also a community activist and organizer. His research interests include race, sexuality, queer theory, affect, aesthetics, and space. His dissertation examines the relationship between spatial production (its affects, aesthetics, and neoliberal conflicts) and conceptualizations of communal identity for queer youth of color.

Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson: An Interview

By Kafui Attoh

Something exciting is happening in Poughkeepsie. In the last two years a group of local residents — under the name “Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson” (NLMH) — have been organizing to fight for the rights of the city’s low-income residents.  For those whose knowledge of Poughkeepsie begins and ends with “The French Connection,” Poughkeepsie is not unlike many postindustrial cities in upstate NY — defined by decades of capital flight, city center decline and entrenched poverty. In this context, the emergence of NLMH has been an important development.

More than anything, it has been important for what the group has already accomplished. Last year, NLMH spearheaded the passage of the state’s first municipal foreclosure bond law — an ordinance requiring owners of properties in foreclosure (mostly banks) to post a $10,000 bond to the city for upkeep. Poughkeepsie is only the seventh city in the country to pass such legislation. This year, NLMH has embarked on a new campaign aimed at fighting the Central Hudson Gas and Electric Company — the public utility monopoly that serves the Mid-Hudson region. As Central Hudson pushes for a rate hike and as local residents —already on the margins — consider the possibility of power shut-offs, NLMH has raised a set of important questions. What rights do people have to heat, electricity and a warm home? More to the point, what rights should they have? Continue reading Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson: An Interview

There is a Future for Low-Income Housing in NYC – If We Work for It!

At this morning’s breakfast forum: “Is There a Future for Low-Income Housing in New York City?”, panelists and audience members had a wide-ranging and animated discussion about constraints and opportunities for achieving the goals of Housing New York: A Five-Borough, Ten-Year Plan. HPD’s Brent Meltzer, a housing preservation specialist and Assistant Commissioner for Community Partnerships, presented the Mayor’s Plan and fielded questions on density, preserving affordability, and the challenges of gentrification. Ismene Speliotis, Carlton Brown, and Lavon Chambers contributed perspectives from advocacy, affordable housing development, and labor. Some of the many take-aways:

  • We need better, more aggressive ways to capture land value to increase rates of affordability.
  • We need airtight ways to bind our housing goals and targets to our workforce development goals and sanction unscrupulous developers and contractors.
  • Housing should not be built in isolation—community planning is needed to comprehensively address neighborhood needs—community organizing is the backbone of community planning.
  • Change in urban areas is inevitable; the issue is how to manage change and eliminate displacement.
  • The non-profit housing sector is underutilized and the city needs to stop over-relying on developer-contractors.
  • Union pension funds should be freed up to invest in housing developments that their members can afford to live in.
  • We need a mix of housing typologies not currently allowed by zoning—single-member households make up over a third of the city’s households but restrictions on density prevent construction of small units. The result: single-member households double, triple, and quadruple up—competing with families for multi-bedroom units.

See two of the presentations from the forum here:

Lavon Chambers, Laborers Union5

Ismene Speliotis, Mutual Housing Association