This post originally appeared at Waging Nonviolence.
By Will Meyer
Popular left magazines have recently published articles that pit campus organizing against labor organizing. The broad stroke thinking by Amber A’Lee Frost in The Baffler and Freddie DeBoer in Jacobin suggests campus politics isn’t going to win material gains and that serious leftists should wage strategic labor battles as opposed to organizing students. While DeBoer does concede that organizing “absolutely should” happen on campus, he lists the pitfalls of student organizing — summer vacation, graduation, how busy students are and their need to get jobs, among other problems — to argue that campus organizing “isn’t going to work” as a movement’s primary organizing strategy. Frost, on the other hand, warns of rhetorical battles without demands that lack strategy and power. Her piece, titled “All Worked Up and Nowhere to Go,” paints a picture of academic writer-types bickering on Twitter and showing up to rallies that raise morale “but little else.”
This approach marks a stark contrast to that of the radical right, which — over the last generation — has weaponized campuses to serve their ideological agenda, dismantling public education using very effective organizing techniques. Continue reading Why Labor and Campus Organizing Are Not a Zero Sum Game
By Ian Thomas MacDonald
This is an abridged excerpt from Ian Thomas MacDonald’s new book, Unions and the City.
Many in labor studies have come to see our cities and suburbs as great laboratories of labor renewal. The relevance of this perspective can be glimpsed in the importance of resisting the dismantling of public education to the fate of a teacher strike in Chicago, for instance, or in the equally surprising success of citywide minimum wage campaigns across the United States. But these inspiring moments only hint at organized labor’s daily engagement with the life of the city, which we have found to be broader, deeper, and more complex than is commonly recognized. If we are right to believe that the future of the labor movement is an urban one, union activists and staffers, urban policymakers, elected officials, and members of the public alike will require a fuller understanding of what impels unions to become involved in urban policy issues, what dilemmas structure the choices unions make, and what impact unions have on the lives of urban residents, beyond their members. Continue reading The Urbanization of Trade Union Struggle and Strategy
Amid the shockwaves from the Supreme Court yesterday — in particular the decision to allow parts of President Trump’s travel ban to go into effect until the court hears arguments this fall — came a decision that got notably less attention. The court has decided not to hear a case involving age-discrimination, allowing a lower court ruling to stand. From a ProPublica article in March:
For the past half century, federal law has banned employers from discriminating against people based on their age. But since the early 1990s, corporate lawyers and conservative judges have sought to shrink what counts as discrimination, making it substantially harder to prove age bias. […]
The case involves an Atlanta man named Richard Villarreal, who applied online for a sales manager job with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in 2007 and heard nothing. When he applied in subsequent years, he had no better luck.
What Villarreal, who was 49 at the time of his first application, didn’t know was that Reynolds had retained a subcontractor to review the applications, supplying guidelines that led reviewers to discard his resume and those of almost 20,000 other older applicants. Of the roughly 1,000 sales managers the tobacco company hired between 2007 and 2010, when Villarreal was applying, fewer than a score were over the age of 40. After a whistleblower emerged in 2010, Villarreal sued.
The significance of the case is two-fold. It highlights the hurdles for job seekers as hiring has increasingly moved online, where it’s easier for companies to reject whole classes of applicants and harder for people to keep track of their bids for work. And it illustrates how age discrimination protections have been progressively narrowed. The tobacco company’s defense challenges decades of precedent for how the law has been interpreted and enforced. Continue reading Supreme Court Won’t Weigh in on Age Discrimination in Hiring Practices
Friday, June 9, 2017 * 1pm to 5pm
Fordham Law School at Lincoln Center
150 West 62nd Street * New York City
**FREE** Register at http://bit.ly/2qczTH3
Under fierce attack from the corporate sector, labor unions are exploring worker co-ops as a way to organize new members, save members’ jobs, create new jobs, and build community alliances. Presenters from NYC, Cincinnati and beyond will share their unions’ experiences with these experiments. Through panels, small group discussions and networking opportunities participants will explore how the co-op business model can help to strengthen and expand our unions.
- Ellen Vera – National Manufacturing Organizing Coordinator, IUE-CWA; cofounder, Cincinnati Union Co-op Initiative
- Mary Hoyer – cochair, UnionCo-ops Council of US Federation of Worker Co-ops
- Carmen Huertas-Noble – director, CUNY Law School Community & Economic Development Clinic, legal expert on unionized worker co-ops
- Keith Joseph – 1199SEIU rep for Cooperative Home Care Associates, the US’s largest worker coop
- David Hammer – ICA Group, consultants to unions on business conversions
- Brendan Martin, director, The Working World, which supported the launch of New Era Windows in Chicago
- Arturo Archila – United Steel Workers NYC, helped launch a unionized co-op
- Roger Green, director, Bunche-DuBois Center for Public Policy Research, Medgar Evers College
Sponsors: UnionCo-ops Council of US Federation of Worker Coops, Murphy Institute for Worker Education & Labor Studies-CUNY, NYC Network of Worker Cooperatives, FPWA, 1Worker1Vote.org
Check out the full conference registration for the Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy! June 9-11
Last Friday, the Murphy Institute hosted Building Bridges Across the Generation Gap, an event designed to bring millennials and baby boomers together to talk about the challenges faced by the two groups. Jillian Berman covered the event for MarketWatch:
“This notion of generational warfare is a red herring,” Eric Kingson, a professor of social work at Syracuse University’s Aging Studies Institute, told the crowd of about 100 gathered at the Murphy Institute’s offices on the 18th floor of a midtown New York City building. Kingson, the co-author of “Social Security Works!,” a book extolling the value of Social Security, argued that political leaders, particularly conservative ones, often use generational differences to drive people apart and keep them from demanding what they’re entitled to from their government.
Kingson had a foolproof test. He asked participants to raise their hands if they had grandparents or grandchildren and then asked if they hated their grandparents or grandkids to prove that the two groups really do have each other’s concerns at heart. “I don’t accept this notion of young versus old as a real issue. I view it as something that was created and is used as a wedge to try and drive people apart,” Kingson told MarketWatch. “The reality is it hasn’t worked very well, even though there’s a lot of talk about it.” Continue reading Millennials and Boomers Explore Shared Challenges
In recent years, the once-widespread practice of long-term career employment has been abandoned by most nonunion employers, replaced by what’s been described as a “much more open, just-in-time labor market” — one in which older workers are especially likely to be laid off. Pensions have been radically transformed, while the unionized share of the workforce has declined sharply, especially in the private sector, and the number of workers covered by multi-employer pension plans has fallen dramatically.
How can we make sense of this changing landscape for aging workers?
Murphy Professors Ruth Milkman and Ed Ott recently released a report called “Labor and Longevity: Unions and the Aging Workforce.” In it, they explore the relationship between aging workers and union organizing nationwide and in New York City, offering recommendations for how unions can defend and negotiate for benefits that meet the needs of all of their workers.
Read the full report here.