Tag Archives: Labor

TRADE UNIONS AND JUST TRANSITION: TUED WORKING PAPER #11

By Sean Sweeney and John Treat

The concept of “Just Transition” has become increasingly in vogue in recent years in international political circles. While commonly ascribed to be “transformative” in potential, like any fashionable term it runs the risk of being emptied of content and coopted by arbiters of the status quo. So what really is Just Transition, and why is it potentially so transformative? This is the question the authors set out to answer in this eleventh working paper published under the auspices of our Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED) project.

In one of its most thorough treatments to date, Sean Sweeney and John Treat, both of the Murphy Institute, not only define the concept of Just Transition but take us through its history and the various polemics that surround it. Starting with its roots in the U.S. labor movement, the authors trace the development of the concept, from being one focused almost exclusively on workers impacted by environmental policies, to becoming much broader in its call for socioecological transformation at the point of not only consumption but also production. Continue reading TRADE UNIONS AND JUST TRANSITION: TUED WORKING PAPER #11

Unions, Collective Bargaining and Soccer Players

By Jay Youngdahl

This June, the men’s World Cup will begin. Billions of people throughout the world will cheer their favorite team and players. Given the diverse nature of the Murphy Institute community, there will be cheerful disagreement as to which team is the best.

However, in a special treat for soccer fans associated with the Murphy Institute, the global union for soccer players, FIFPro (Fédération Internationale des Associations de Footballeurs Professionnel/International Federation of Professional Footballers) has put out a short inspiring video with some of the leading male and female soccer players in the world. The video, which begins with the incomparable Lionel Messi of Argentina, features talented players discussing the importance of unions and of collective bargaining at work. These famous athletes stress the importance of equal rights, respect, and justice for all workers, including footballers.

So, while many in the Murphy Institute community may disagree about which is their favorite team, this video features players we can all cheer for in this men’s World Cup and in the upcoming Women’s World Cup.

Jay Youngdahl is a Visiting Research Scholar at the Murphy Institute.

Book Talk: Joshua Freeman and Louis Uchitelle (3/23)

Join us for book talks from Joshua Freeman, author of “Behemoth: The Factory and the Making of the Modern World” and Louis Uchitelle, author of “Making It: Why Manufacturing Still Matters”.

Friday, March 23rd, 6:00-8:00pm
CUNY Murphy Institute 
25 W. 43rd Street, 18A-D
New York, NY 10036

Speakers:

  • Joshua Freeman-Distinguished Professor of History, CUNY Graduate Center; Murphy Institute Consortial Faculty
  • Louis Uchitelle-Journalist and author; lead reporter for award-winning NY Times Series The Downsizing of America
  • Introduced by Ruth Milkman-Professor of Sociology, CUNY Graduate Center; Director of Research, Murphy Institute

RSVP HERE

Photo by Peter Miller via flickr (CC-BY-NC-ND)

New Labor Forum Highlights: March 19th, 2018

The New Labor Forum has a bi-weekly newsletter on current topics in labor, curated by the some of the most insightful scholars and activists in the labor world today. Check out some highlights from the latest edition below.

On Friday, March 23rd, the Murphy Institute, publisher of New Labor Forum, will be holding two important public events. Those events provide the dual focus of today’s newsletter.

NLF Consulting Editor Joshua Freeman will be speaking on his important new book Behemoth: The Factory and the Making of the Modern World and sharing the stage with award-winning journalist Louis Uchitelle, who will discuss his book Making It: Why Manufacturing Still Matters. The decline of U.S. manufacturing jobs – to the tune of 28 percent over the past two decades—has, of course, been a primary concern of the trade union movement, which fought tooth and nail to turn that grueling work into decent jobs and a base of union strength. In his recent, ad hoc announcement of 25 and 10 percent tariffs on steel and aluminum, respectively, President Trump sought to capitalize on those concerns. As it turns out, the political history of imposing tariffs as a means to defend manufacturing goes back to the founding of the country, as discussed in an illuminating article for New Labor Forum by Joshua Freeman and Steve Fraser, included here. And what are progressive economists’ to make of the current iteration of protectionism? In their recent op-ed for the Washington Post, Jared Bernstein and Dean Baker critique Trump’s ill-considered trade tariffs, arguing for a trade policy that would support those whose jobs are lost to global trade, while reducing certain protections, namely for professionals and patents that keep the cost of our healthcare so high.

The second public event at the Murphy Institute will bring the #MeToo movement out of the Hollywood spotlight and into the realm of lower waged work in restaurants, on the factory floor, and the hotel cleaning crew, where change often depends on collective action and the coupling of feminist and class consciousness. Providing a historic context for these contemporary efforts, we offer an article by scholars Eileen Boris and Annelise Orleck, written for New Labor Forum on the hundredth anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.

Table of Contents

  1. Book Talk: “Behemoth: The Factory and the Making of the Modern World” & “Making It: Why Manufacturing Still Matters”/ Joshua Freeman & Louis Uchitelle, The Murphy Institute
  2. “In the Rearview Mirror” Trading Places: Protecting American Industry is so Yesterday/ Steve Fraser & Joshua Freeman, New Labor Forum 
  3. We know what bad trade policy looks like. But what about good trade policy?/ Jared Bernstein and Dean Baker, The Washington Post
  4. Promising Practices: Labor and Community Fighting Sexual Harassment in the Era of #MeToo/ The Murphy Institute and The Worker Institute at Cornell ILR
  5. FEMINISM AND THE LABOR MOVEMENT: A Century of Collaboration and Conflict/ Eileen Boris and Annelise Orleck/ New Labor Forum

Photo by Nestle (CC-NC-ND)

New Labor Forum Highlights: March 5th, 2018

The New Labor Forum has a bi-weekly newsletter on current topics in labor, curated by the some of the most insightful scholars and activists in the labor world today. Check out some highlights from the latest edition below.

Recently released figures for 2017 from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal a reversal in the decades-long decline in unionization rates. For those who have watched with chagrin the downward slope of union density, this appears to be a welcome bright spot. But not so soon, cautions Glenn Perusek in an essay for New Labor Forum. After all, the uptick is a small one, he notes, and perhaps better explained by new hiring in already unionized workplaces, than by massive new union organizing. The data does show an increase in young workers represented by unions, as well as new gains in unionization in white collar fields, including journalism and academia. NLF Consulting Editor and CUNY Sociology Professor Ruth Milkman makes sense of these trends in a WNYC interview with Todd Zwillich, included here.

Anyone concerned about organized labor’s prospects has noticed the dark cloud on the horizon in the form of the Janus v. AFSCME case, currently pending before the Supreme Court. This case threatens a body blow to public sector unionism if, as expected, it manages to abolish the mandatory “agency fees” that workers who don’t join the union currently pay to the unions that must represent them and negotiate their contracts, regardless. In his forthcoming NLF  column, Organized Money: What Is Corporate America Thinking?, Max Fraser devotes his attention to the big money interests that instigated the Janus case, and presently stand poised with sophisticated campaigns to convert public sector workers into “free riders” through opting out of union membership and associated dues. The right-wing foundations that have long pushed to weaken public sector unions by overturning the “agency fee” may, however, find they’ve gotten more than they’ve bargained for. So argues NLF regular Shaun Richman in a recent piece for The Washington Post. He suggests that the deal that brought about the “agency fee,” also contributed to labor peace, in the form of no-strike clauses and exclusive representation. In the post-Janus labor chaos Richman predicts unionists may find new possibilities for militant action, while conservatives may rue the day they brought it about.

Table of Contents

  1. U.S. Union Membership Data in Perspective/ Glenn Perusek, New Labor Forum
  2. How Unions Fracture Along Economic Lines/ Todd Zwillich with Ruth Milkman, The Takeaway, WNYC, Feb 1, 2018
  3. Organized Money: What is Corporate America Thinking?-Freedom’s Janus Face/Max Fraser, New Labor Forum
  4. If the Supreme Court rules against unions, conservatives won’t like what happens next/ Shaun Richman, The Washington Post, Mar 1, 2018 

Photo by Phil Roeder via flickr (CC-BY)

Stephanie Luce Interviews Annelise Orleck for Jacobin

With Janus placing public sector unions on the chopping block while West Virginia teachers stage a wildcat strike for their rights, what’s the right way to feel about the future of labor? Is the picture as bleak as we’ve been made to think, or might there be glimmers of hope portending a brighter future ahead?

Murphy Professor Stephanie Luce recently interviewed historian Annelise Orleck for Jacobin. Orleck’s new book  “We Are All Fast-Food Workers Now”: The Global Uprising against Poverty Wages is the result of her interviews with 140 workers around the world. The picture she paints offers room for some optimism and hope amid it all.

An excerpt from the interview is below. Read the full interview at Jacobin.

Stephanie Luce: You give quite a few inspirational stories, but most of the people you write about are living in pretty difficult conditions — whether it’s Walmart and fast-food workers in the United States, garment workers in Cambodia, or farmers in India. Some of the people you write about have been beaten, jailed — labor activists have been harassed, fired, kidnapped, and murdered. How are they winning?

Continue reading Stephanie Luce Interviews Annelise Orleck for Jacobin