This article was originally featured at Labor Notes.
Want to learn more about public sector unionism? Join us for a one day conference on November 17th, “Janus and Beyond: The Future of Public Sector Unions.”
By Luke Elliott-Negri
As recently as 2014, just 22 percent of my co-workers were members of our chapter in our big wall-to-wall union. The rest—some 1,242 employees—paid the “agency fee,” which for us is the same as membership dues. The chapter had been defunct for several years. Few bothered to explain to new employees why it mattered to join and what power might come from engagement.
Both because of the right-wing assault in the form of legal cases like Janus v. AFSCME—the Supreme Court case that will make the whole public sector “right-to-work” by next year—but also because this is what unions should be doing anyway, a group of us set out to change these numbers. Continue reading Building Power before Janus – And After: Lessons from CUNY
Last week, The Positive Community featured an article about the Murphy Institute by Henry A. Garrido, Executive Director of District Council37, AFCME, who also serves as a Murphy Institute Advisory Board member. It begins:
There is a hidden gem of higher education opportunity in mid-Manhattan called the Murphy Institute for Worker Education. The Institute, part of the City University of New York, is dedicated to preparing the next generation of labor and community leaders, while simultaneously expanding opportunities for working adults in a wide range of fields throughout the CUNY system and in all five boroughs. The Institute has its roots in a small program established in 1984 at Queens College as the brainchild of three unions: Local 1180 of the Communications Workers of America, District Council 37-AFSCME, and the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union. These unions shared a vision of empowerment through education—not only for their own members, but for adult workers more broadly and for the future of the labor movement as a whole. Most of the original 52 students were municipal employees and women of color.
For more on the history of the Murphy Institute and where things are going from here, check out it out.
2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the Public Employees Fair Employment Act, commonly known as the Taylor Law. This New York law was one of the first state laws to grant public workers the right to unionize, to require public employers and unions to bargain in good faith over working conditions, and to mandate conciliation of bargaining impasses.
Yesterday, the Murphy Institute, in conjunction with Hunter’s National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Roosevelt House, sponsored a series of panels and conversations examining the Taylor Law in historical context, and exploring the future of public sector unionization and collective bargaining.
Missed the event or want to see it again? You can watch it here.
Organized labor has suffered sharp declines in recent years. So where does this leave the labor movement? And how do New York City and State compare to the nation as a whole?
Murphy Professors Ruth Milkman and Stephanie Luce have released a new report that addresses these questions. State of the Unions 2017: A Profile of Organized Labor in New York City, New York State and the United States looks at how union density has changed nationally and locally across demographics and industries over the past decades, and assesses the challenges and prospects that the labor movement faces now and in the coming years.
Explore this invaluable and accessible report here.
On Wednesday, Murphy Prof. Joshua Freeman was on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show along with William Herbert, Executive Director of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions, to talk about the Taylor Law.
They discussed the history of the law, 50 years in, and its ramifications for public sector unionism. Take a listen here.
Photo by peopleworld via flickr (CC-BY-NC)
School bus maintenance and driving has long been a tricky business in New York City. In the face of mounting maintenance costs, excessive emissions and flatlining wages, the Transit Workers Union (TWU) has proposed a novel — and potentially transformative — solution for the city’s school buses.
This week, TWU international president John Samuelsen and Manhattan New York City Council member Daniel Garodnick outlined the plan in the New York Daily News:
Here’s our plan. Let’s establish a unionized, worker-owned cooperative to transport students in non-polluting (and air-conditioned) electric school buses. For the pilot, we envision the worker cooperative entering into a contract with the Board of Education to provide service on approximately 15 existing routes that are not permanently assigned to any private company. Continue reading TWU Proposes School Bus Coop