Many thanks to everyone who supported our recent conference, “Janus and Beyond: the Future of Public Sector Unions,” held November 17th and sponsored by the Cornell Worker Institute and the Murphy Institute at CUNY. Over 170 union activists, leaders, staff and allies attended, coming from over 40 labor locals, councils and federations.
The energy in the rooms was palpable throughout the day. Our morning speakers underscored the urgency of the moment we face by educating us about the where the current attacks are coming from and sharing their firsthand experience of the aftermath of Harris v Quinn in Washington and “right-to-work on steroids” in Wisconsin. In the afternoon we turned to the nuts-and-bolts of best practices: preparing for Janus and going forward in a right-to-work future. Speakers shared their successes and challenges, and workshops allowed participants to drill down in the particulars of communication, member-to-member organizing, legislative campaigns, new approaches to bargaining, and more.
We were grateful to be joined by Janella Hinds, Secretary-Treasurer, NYC Central Labor Council, and UFT Vice President, who opened our conference; City Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Chair, NYC Council, Committee on Labor and Civil Service, who spoke with us during lunch; and Tony Utano, President, TWU Local 100, who shared closing remarks.
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?
Contributors Penny Lewis, Miriam Greenberg, Stephanie Luce, Shannon Gleason and Melissa Checker discussed today’s urban-based struggles for change, asking: what are the new kinds of organizing that we’re seeing emerging in cities today? What challenges do they face, what potential do they have?
Friday, November 17th, 2017
9am-4pm Murphy Institute 25 W. 43rd St., 18th Floor, New York, NY REGISTER HERE
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
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.
On Friday, September 15th, members of the Murphy Institute community gathered for a discussion about gerrymandering. In light of the Supreme Court’s decision to hear Gill v. Whitford, a case that deals with the legality of partisan gerrymandering, this panel explored the history of gerrymandering and the effects of recent changes in technology, data mining, and dark money.
Missed the event or want to see it again? You can watch it here:
David Daley, author, Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy and former Editor in chief of Salon.com
Lauren Jones, National Civil Rights Counsel, Anti-Defamation League
Michael Li, Senior Counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program
Deuel Ross, Assistant Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund
Jerry G. Vattamala, Director, Democracy Program, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)
Moderator:John Mollenkopf, Distinguished Professor of Political Science, CUNY Graduate School and consortial faculty, Murphy Institute
A conversation about workers, communities and social justice