On Friday, May 11th, in collaboration with Democracy @ Work New York, the Murphy Institute hosted a fascinating panel exploring how progressive local innovations stand to solve long-standing, seemingly intractable issues around poverty and inequality. Panelists included:
Michael Menser, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Brooklyn College, Earth and Environmental Science and Environmental Psychology at the CUNY Graduate Center, Chair of the Board of The Participatory Budgeting Project, and author of We Decide! Theories and Cases in Participatory Democracy
Gabriela Alvarez, Chef and founder of Liberation Cuisine, a catering company dedicated to preparing meals collectively with sustainable ingredients and practices. Alvarez recently took her passion for healing and organizing with food to Puerto Rico to help with relief and rebuilding efforts
Kali Akuno, co-founder and co-director of Cooperation Jackson, a network of cooperatives and worker-owned enterprises and the author of Jackson Rising: The Struggle for Economic Democracy and Black Self-Determination in Jackson, Mississippi
Yorman Nunez, Program Manager at Community Innovators Lab MIT and coordinator of Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative
Miss the panel or want to experience it again? Watch it here:
In New York City worker cooperatives, participatory budgeting, and community land trusts are on the policy platform of the City Council’s progressive caucus and elected officials in the democratic party are pushing legislation for employee and worker ownership at the state and federal levels. With greater visibility and support from the public sector some believe that these pilots and experiments for neighborhoods to drive wealth creation and capture and create equitable economic opportunities can reach into broad-based and mainstream policy.
There is an opening here to expand the horizon of what is seen as possible for genuine equitable urban economic development, and its relationship to labor, communities and the political economy. In short, we can change the conversation from mostly pushing for greater accountability and transparency in the existing economic development order, to a conversation about what should come next and what policies and institutions would be a part of getting us there.
Students and faculty of the Murphy Institute and Cornell University Labor Relations Certificate Program gathered on Saturday, April 21st to discuss the Future of Work. The annual spring conference created and facilitated by current Cornell-CUNY students featured veteran leaders within New York City’s labor movement. Among the guest speakers were Carrie Gleason, director of the Fair Workweek Initiative for popular democracy, Garrett O’Connor, experienced organizer and labor strategist, Murphy student Alexander Mason, and community, labor, and anti-war activist Eljeer Hawkins.
The conference focused on the impact of Artificial Intelligence innovation within the workplace and its repercussions to the existing and future workforce. Students and speakers collaborated to discuss how the industries of New York City, specifically the transit, healthcare, education, retail and construction industries are being altered by A.I., robotics, and other technologies. In group sessions, students discussed how the future of work will contribute to or reduce existing inequalities and inequities within our labor system, in addition to the effects technological innovations will play in relation to ongoing social, racial, and environmental inequities. The conference laid the foundation for the upcoming series The Future of Capitalism and The Future of Workto be held at the Murphy Institute this Thursday—May 4th. Continue reading Photos: Cornell-Cuny Labor Relations Program Spring Conference→
Last Friday, the Murphy Institute hosted a day-long event on labor and community in the age of #MeToo. The event brought together leaders from the labor movement, legal advocacy and gender equity work — with thought-provoking and actionable results.
For a round up of some of the discussions and panels from the event, check out The Chief-Leader’s coverage of the event by reporter Crystal Lewis here. From the article:
“The fact that we’re still talking about sexual harassment six months after #MeToo shows this isn’t a moment: it’s a movement,” said Maya Raghu, director of workplace equality at the National Women’s Law Center during a March 23 panel on sexual harassment at the Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies.
Students, union members and advocates attended the panel at the Murphy Institute’s headquarters in Midtown to learn and discuss strategies that labor and community groups could use to combat sexual harassment in the workplace. Once allegations surfaced last October that movie producer Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted or otherwise harassed dozens of women in the entertainment business, the #MeToo movement triggered accusations of sexual misconduct in other industries.
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?
Some photos from the event are below!
A conversation about workers, communities and social justice