December 8th, 2017
25 W. 43rd St., 18th Floor, New York, NY
New Labor Forum, first published in September 1997, was founded to contribute to the new possibilities for debate and discussion among labor and its allies in the wake of the AFL-CIO’s first ever contested elections in 1995. In those heady days, the New Voice leadership at the federation proclaimed its commitment to large-scale union organizing and ambitious coalition building with working-class communities, and particularly communities of color. It simultaneously engaged in a rapprochement spurred by Left intellectuals and progressive political activists who had for decades been excluded from the AFL-CIO’s strategic discussions. These efforts gave rise to widespread hopes that organized labor might help ignite a broad, national movement for social and economic justice. On the twentieth anniversary of the journal’s founding, we will host an assessment of those earlier ambitions, examining the complex reasons why they have borne such meager results. We will also examine the current challenges and possibilities for building a progressive movement capable of confronting a thoroughly financialized economy of highly concentrated wealth, precarious work and unabated racial disparity, and a political system in the vice grip of corporate interests in which a multi-racial working-class alliance remains a distant hope.
Stephen Lerner – Organizing in the New Economy: What are the principal features of the new economy that workers and working-class communities must now confront? What does this suggest about new forms that organizing should take?
Phil Thompson and Liza Featherstone – Debate: What is required to build a multi-racial working-class political movement?
The fight to close the Rikers Island Jail complex has received renewed attention since Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan last March to close down the facility in the next 10 years. Many have welcomed the moved, but one group has expressed resistance: correctional officers.
In a recent article in the Daily News, Brooklyn College sociology professor Alex Vitale argues that this resistance is misguided:
Corrections unions face a difficult challenge in the months and years ahead. Do they continue to defend a broken institution in the hopes of saving jobs or do they look for concrete ways to ensure that the people who work at Rikers have secure economic futures?
The irony of this dilemma is that the men and women who work at Rikers know better than almost anyone what a failed institution it is. They see day in and day out the deteriorating infrastructure, inadequate management, and culture of violence that organizes their daily work life. Continue reading Jail Workers & the Fight to Close Rikers
Friday, November 17th, 2017
25 W. 43rd St., 18th Floor, New York, NY
Join union leaders, scholars and activists during this one-day conference to discuss the implications of the Janus v. AFSCMEcase for workers and organized labor, possible immediate outcomes, and strategic options for combatting the attack on public sector unionism.
- Janella Hinds, Secretary-Treasurer of the NYC Central Labor Council
- City Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Chair of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor
- Tony Utano, President of Transport Workers Union Local 100
- Barbara Terrelonge, Director of Organizing at DC37, AFSCME
Continue reading Conference: Janus & Beyond: The Future of Public Workers (11/17)
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.