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!
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 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!
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
The latest issue of the DC 37 newsletter features a column by Murphy Institute alum Moira Dolan singing high praise for Murphy programs, faculty and students. Dolan is senior assistant director at the DC 37 Research and Negotiations Department and recently graduated from the Murphy Institute, in part thanks to assistance from the DC 37 Education Fund. She writes:
Because of my work in the DC 37 Research and Negotiations Dept. the Labor Studies Program at CUNY was a perfect fit[…]
Some of my favorite teachers included Ed Ott, who taught public sector and public policy, and who told many fascinating anecdotes from the past; Ruth Milkman, who taught labor and immigration; Steve Jenkins from SEIU 32 B-J, who instructed us on corporate research methods; and Josh Freeman, who taught labor history.
As compelling as these educators were, my fellow students were even more interesting. Through them, I got to know what it’s like to work at other unions — or be represented by other unions.
To read the full article, click here.
A Growing Hybrid-Model-Movement Ripe for Political Consolidation
By Michael Peck
In America, the world of work has already changed beyond conventional wisdom sense perceptions and the willpower capacity of elected politicians to understand and embrace it. This workplace relationship tsunami, “a historic shift that rivals the transition from farms to factories,” calls out the anachronistic redlining between company and society, employee or independent contractor, worker versus manager, part-time as opposed to full-time, blue or white collar, as well as unions or work councils.
Today’s wrenching workplace issues — wage theft, eligibility for overtime pay, equalizing and standardizing worker classification, elevating minimum wage standards including the federal minimum wage, overtime protection, facilitating employees of contractors and franchise operations to achieve a collective bargaining agreement — constitute many of the most necessary but still wholly insufficient solutions to the problems at hand. The existential dilemma facing the world of work is that these problems together with traditional remedies have lost their time-space moorings. Continue reading Pope Francis & the Moral Right to “Own Our Labor & Rent Our Capital”