The food & labor worlds have been abuzz with the news that acclaimed New York restauranteur Danny Meyer has eliminated tipping in his restaurants in favor of higher hourly wages for workers.
This comes on the heels of a similar trend in other cities: in Seattle, for instance, a rising minimum wage has led many restauranteurs to raise prices. Some restauranteurs have compensated by eliminating tipping from their restaurants; in other cases, patrons are choosing not to tip, sensing, begrudgingly or not, that their servers are finally being well-compensated.
A catastrophic disruption to the food service industry as we know it? Hardly. Labor advocates and consumers alike have been praising the trend — with some even arguing that it doesn’t go far enough. Continue reading The End of Tipping?
[10/19/15: Murphy Prof. Ruth Milkman wrote a short piece commemorating Rosalyn Baxandall’s life for Jacobin Magazine. Check it out here. – Ed.]
Professor Rosalyn Baxandall died Tuesday evening. Following her retirement from SUNY Old Westbury, the Murphy Institute was very fortunate to have Ros come teach labor history. Ros was a pathbreaking feminist scholar whose activism and writing brought women into labor history and women’s work into focus for scholars across the disciplines. All of us who care about social history, labor, feminism and the role of struggle and movements in shaping the direction of our society and our studies are indebted to Ros, for her example as well as her contributions to our fields.
From the New York Times obituary, published today:
[Baxandall] helped create Liberation Nursery, the first feminist day care center in New York. As an early member of New York Radical Women and Redstockings, she picketed the 1968 Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, one of the most visible of the feminist protests of the ’60s, forever associated with a symbolic burning of restrictive women’s clothes that mainstream publications referred to as a “bra burning.”
She played a prominent role in the abortion “speakout” in the West Village in 1969, a forum at which women described in public their experiences in obtaining illegal abortions.
Recalling those days in an interview with the feminist activist Jacqueline Ceballos in 1991, Ms. Baxandall said, “The one thing that I do have against the books that are written is they talk about all the politics and the splits, et cetera, but they don’t talk about the joy and fun we had.” She added, “We knew were changing history, and it was terrific.”
This past Sunday, dozens of B&H workers publicly aired their grievances against their employer, the largest non-chain photo retailer in the country. Employees marched into the NYC store to deliver a letter and launch a campaign calling for the business to “fix dangerous workplace conditions, end discrimination against Latino employees, and stop wage theft at their two Brooklyn warehouses.”
Laura Gottesdiener covered the action for Al Jazeera America (“Photo retailer B&H faces unwanted exposure over worker safety“), writing:
In the main B&H warehouse located in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard, the walls and ceilings are insulated with fiberglass that fills the air and flecks off onto the worker’s skin, causing rashes, respiration problems and daily nosebleeds, employees say. Inside a second warehouse, on Evergreen Avenue in Brooklyn, employees say they have worked amid asbestos-insulated tubing. “They would tell us to clean the tubes,” recalled maintenance worker Miguel Angel Muñoz Meneses, “but nobody wanted to touch them.” Continue reading B&H: Labor Exploiter?
Want to go deeper on the world of sharing, cooperativism, and an internet economy that works for all of us? Head to the New School November 13-14th for Platform Cooperativism: a coming out party for the cooperative internet, co-sponsored by the Murphy Institute. Register here.
In a new article over at FastCoexist (“The People’s Uber: Why The Sharing Economy Must Share Ownership“), Nathan Schneider and Trebor Scholz lament the current state of the sharing economy:
For all the things that companies like Airbnb and TaskRabbit allow us to share with each other […] ownership and governance are not on offer. This is what the democratic promise of the Internet has come to: a democracy of access, of “collaborative consumption,” but not of control, real accountability, or ownership.
It’s a story that’s all too familiar for exploited workers subject to the micro-monitoring, low wages, and new forms of precarity that have opened up with the sharing economy. Yet, while Silicon Valley hails the new “freedoms” afforded by an internet that allows anyone to monetize any of their latent resources — time, bedrooms, cars and more — many workers are suffering from the gigification that has left them without benefits, stable wages, or any sort of certainty. From this, it’s easy for the future of work to look grim indeed.
Scholz and Schneider, however, take a bold step, opening up a new set of imaginative possibilities: What if, instead of being exploited by the “on-demand” economy, workers ran that economy themselves? Continue reading From Sharing Economy to Shared Ownership
For more on this topic, join us at the Murphy Institute on October 19th for this month’s Labor Forum: Black Lives Matter & the Fight for Fifteen: A New Social Movement?
When looking to reform our obviously broken criminal justice and carceral system, at what point must we examine the structural causes of urban crime? Can we address some of the damning injustices of our criminal justice system without first addressing urban poverty and the conditions that produce and uphold it?
The latest issue of Dissent Magazine features a debate from two corners of the Murphy Institute. Murphy Prof. Michael Javen Fortner, whose new book Black Silent Majority: The Rockefeller Drug Laws and the Politics of Punishment came out to wide coverage and acclaim this fall, argues that we need to begin by taking an honest look at the roots and effects of urban crime if we want to achieve meaningful and enduring criminal justice reform.
Meanwhile, Marie Gottschalk, professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, member of the New Labor Forum editorial board, and writer of Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics, argues, “Alleviating the poverty and income inequality that are at the root of extraordinarily high levels of violent crime in certain communities will take some time. In the meantime, no compelling public safety concern justifies keeping so many people from these communities locked up or otherwise ensnared in the carceral state.” Continue reading Debating Criminal Justice Reform
Students at the Murphy Institute have always done a lot of writing, from the short “zaps” Professor Ed Ott assigns his labor studies M.A. students to the major research papers assigned in classes across Murphy’s programs.
As of this fall, they now have a Writing Center to help with the writing process — a place where they can bring any assignment, at any stage of the writing process, to receive feedback and guidance.
Are you a Murphy student looking to improve a piece of work and/or sharpen your writing skills? Sign up for an appointment here.
Watch this page for updates on a program of reading and writing skill-boosting workshops offered by the Writing Center.
Photo Credit: Housin Aziz via Noun Project