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
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.
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
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
To the weekend! February’s slowing passing by and NYC’s sticking to record-breaking lows. Here’s some news from this past week:
- How can teachers unions expand their self-conception, looking at the interests of the whole working class? Bob Peterson offers some ideas via Portside. Want more on labor and education? Check out the latest issue of the New Labor Forum.
- How is the social-solidarity movement in Greece and the rise of Syriza manifesting a “shift in how we think in collective ways about meeting basic needs”? Read “How Greece Put an Anti-Austerity, Anti-Capitalist Party in Power” by Sarah Leonard via the Nation
- From earlier this month: From 1974-1979 a small town in Manitoba, Canada offered a basic income guarantee, shoring up incomes for its poorest residents. Whitney Mallet at Vice writes about the so-called “mincome”
- Speaking of guaranteed income, Alaska pays out dividends to all of its residents from revenues generated via its North Slope oil. On the Commons describes this unique system via Shareable
- Per Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, today’s the deadline for contract disputes between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union which have slowed West Coast ports to a grind
Photo by JLS Photography via flickr (CC-BY-NC-ND).
by Sean Sweeney
During its first days in office, Syriza has taken actions that suggest it is willing to confront the EU’s neoliberal approach to energy and to embark on a new course. New Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has also stated his government will restore collective bargaining agreements and stop 300,000 planned layoffs.
The Syriza government has said it will stop the proposed sell off of the Public Power Corporation (PPC) which is 51% publicly owned but had been targeted for full-on privatization in 2016. “We will halt immediately any privatization of PPC,” Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis told Greek television a few hours before officially taking over his portfolio. “There will be a new PPC which will help considerably the restoration of the country’s productive activities,” he said.
Lafanzis also announced that that the mostly state-run gas company, DEPA, will also not be privatized. Both the PPC and DEPA were due to be privatized under the conditions imposed by the Troika. Continue reading Syriza can show ‘another energy is possible’