Tag Archives: New Labor Forum

New Labor Forum Highlights: Nov. 15th, 2016

The New Labor Forum has launched 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.

We send this newsletter just a week after Donald Trump’s electoral victory. That stunning outcome raises more questions than it answers. To what degree are the election results largely a result of an anxious and enraged white working class, sections of which endorse the Trump campaign’s virulent racism, or are willing to overlook it in favor of his tough talk on free trade and a rigged political system? And how should labor and progressive activists understand and respond to the racism the campaign both encouraged and exposed? What did the 2016 election tell us about the wisdom and viability of the Obama coalition, which depends on demographic changes presumed to be advantageous, rather than on birthing a multi-racial working-class? What was the nature and extent of organized labor’s impact on the election, particularly in the rust belt?

Table of Contents:

  1. The Dinosaur and the Billionaire By Steve Fraser, The Nation
  2. Why Did White Workers Leave the Democratic Party? by Judith Stein, Jacobin
  3. Video/Transcript: Michael Eric Dyson vs. Eddie Glaude on Race, Hillary Clinton and the Legacy of Obama’s Presidency, Democracy Now
  4. It Looks Like Donald Trump Did Really Well With Union Households. That’s A Bad Sign For Unions By Dave Jamieson, Huffington Post
  5. Elizabeth Warren addresses the AFL-CIO Executive Council (Video)
  6. Election Debrief: Reporters’ Roundtable November 18 Event, Murphy Institute

Photo by Gage Skidmore via flickr (CC-BY-SA)

New Labor Forum Highlights: Oct. 31st, 2016

The New Labor Forum has launched 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.

In this week’s newsletter, we look policy issues — work and family — that normally fail to receive the political attention they deserve. Ironically, during the first electoral season to feature a woman as major party candidate, these issues remained overshadowed by other far less policy oriented concerns.

We kick off our effort to highlight these issues with an assessment by Linda Gordon of Second Wave Feminism, which included a strong strand of Socialist Feminism that emphasized the intersection of gender, race, and class oppression. As such, this movement that peaked from the mid 1960s until the 1980s gave rise  to many of the work-family policy initiatives of today, including paid family and sick leave; affordable, high quality childcare; and equal pay for equal work.

We look at current progress toward those policy objectives here. In a Washington Post column, New Labor Forum Contributing Editor Ruth Milkman discusses Paid Family Leave as a key means of reducing wealth inequality.  Sharon Lerner, writing for In These Times, describes the financial, emotional, and health repercussions suffered by working-class American women, who unlike their counterparts throughout the world, deliver and raise children without the most fundamental supports. And we provide, from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a handy, brief analysis of gender pay gaps.

To close out this discussion, we look at the disparate promises regarding women’s and family issues being made by each of the two major party nominees for President. If the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was the first bill signed into law by President Obama, it’s reasonable ask what legislation is likely to garner the early support either a President Trump or a President Clinton.

Table of Contents:

  1. Socialist Feminism: The Legacy of the “Second Wave” by Linda Gordon
  2. How a Lack of Paid Leave is Making Wealth Inequality Worse by Ruth Milkman
  3. The Real War on Families: Why the U.S. Needs Paid Leave Now by Sharon Lerner
  4. “The Economic Impact of Equal Pay by State” Status of Women in the States Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Feb 2016 
  5. Donald Trump Unveils Plan for Families in Bid for Women’s Votes by Nick Corasaniti and Maggie Haberman
  6. Clinton’s Platform: Women’s Rights and Opportunity

Photo by Steve Rainwater via flickr (CC-BY-SA)

Confronting the Tragedy: Law Enforcement Unionism and Communities of Color


The ongoing killings of people of color too numerous to name, the killing of Police Officers in Baton Rouge and Dallas, and the occupations of the Fraternal Order of Police by BYP100 and the Movement for Black Lives Matter have escalated calls and action for systematic change. It is urgent that the Labor Movement and our communities confront the complex and interlocking dynamics of law enforcement, unionism, and racial justice.

The Murphy Institute aims to bring together academics, activists, students, and practitioners to pose crucial questions concerning the criminal justice system, and the labor movements’ place and responsibility within it. We will host a series of roundtables and discussions, opening with this October 21st forum and culminating with a two-day conference April 28th and 29th. These events are designed to wrestle with the fundamental questions of unionism and solidarity, race and class, with the ultimate goal of finding a real path toward more equitable criminal justice.


  • Carmen Berkeley, is a radical civil & labor rights activist, writer, and trainer who currently serves as the youngest Director for the Civil, Human and Women’s Rights Department at the AFL-CIO. Berkley’s passion training organizers and activists has allowed her to train with Midwest Academy and Wellstone Action, and to serve as a Co-Founder of Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop, LLC.
  • Joo-Hyun Kang is the Executive Director of Communities United for Police Reform
  • Eugene O’Donnell, Professor at the City University of New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He was an officer in the New York Police Department, a prosecutor with the district attorneys’ offices in Brooklyn and Queens, and a police academy instructor.
  • Dorian Warren, Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, an MSNBC Contributor, and Board Chair of the Center for Community Change. He is the former Host and Executive Producer of “Nerding Out” on MSNBC’s digital platform, shift.msnbc.com.
  • Moderated by Ed Ott, Distinguished Lecturer in Labor Studies at the Murphy Institute.  He has over 40 years of experience in the labor movement, most recently as Executive Director of the New York City Central Labor Council.

The forum is free but registration is required. 


New Labor Forum Highlights: Oct. 17th, 2016

NLF Editorial Board Member Adolph Reed starts this issue of Highlights with a pushback. While the increased attention to police brutality and the injustice of our criminal justice system is essential, Reed argues that the one-dimensional focus on race obscures an understanding of the “ immensely fortified and self-reproducing institutional and industrial structure” of the carceral state. An exclusive focus on racial disparities in the criminal justice system, he also contends, hinders the building of a broad coalition to upend it. This isn’t a new conversation. Yet it gets to the heart of a long-standing divide concerning “identity politics.” In 2010 we hosted a debate  between Walter Benn Michaels and Alethia Jones, usefully engaging this set of issues.

We’re also highlighting a recent article by New Labor Forum columnist Sarah Jaffe that illuminates a set of challenges to organized labor implicit in the tragedy of police killings of people of color. On the one hand, unions are called to stand up for justice, and in recent years, some have stood against police brutality and mass incarceration. On the other hand, law enforcement unions have a right to exist and to defend their members. This historic tension has bubbled up following the rise of Black Lives Matter. The Murphy Institute is hosting a forum on the topic later this month, and a larger two-day conference in April.

Table of Contents:

  1. How Racial Disparity Does Not Help Make Sense of Patterns of Police Violence by Adolph Reed, Jr
  2. Identity Politics: Part of a Reinvigorated Class Politics by Alethia Jones
  3. Identity Politics: A Zero-Sum Game by Walter Benn Michaels
  4. Black Labor Organizers Urge AFL-CIO to Reexamine Its Ties to the Police by Sarah Jaffe
  5. Event: Confronting the Tragedy: Law Enforcement Unionism & Communities Of Color Forum, October 21, 2016
  6. SAVE THE DATE: Confronting the Tragedy: Law Enforcement Unionism & Communities Of Color Conference, April 28-29, 2017    

Photo by Gerry Lauzon via flickr (CC-BY)

Standing Rock-Solid with the Frackers

This post was originally featured at New Labor Forum.

By Sean Sweeney

If anyone were looking for further evidence that the AFL-CIO remains unprepared to accept the science of climate change, and unwilling to join with the effort being made by all of the major labor federations of the world to address the crisis, the fight over the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) provides only the most recent case in point. Taking direction from the newly minted North American Building Trades Unions (NABTU) and the American Petroleum Institute (API), the federation stood against the Standing Rock Sioux and other tribal nations. Continue reading Standing Rock-Solid with the Frackers

New Labor Forum Highlights: Oct. 3rd, 2016

The New Labor Forum has launched 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.

The AFL-CIO and the Laborers International Union (LiUNA) have come out in support of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), demonstrating the extent to which the construction trades continue to control the federation’s climate change policy. Simultaneously an array of other unions have stood up to publicly oppose it. In this way, the climate crisis calls into question the validity of an old notion of internal labor solidarity that protects unions’ turf in directing policy decisions regarding the industries they represent. The fact that the planet is everyone’s “turf” has begun to force a rethinking of this narrower notion of solidarity.

To provoke discussion on this issue, we’re leading off with an article by New Labor Forumcolumnist Sean Sweeney that will appear in our January 2017 issue in which he asks: Is Labor Putting Its Head in the Gas Oven?

The DAPL has been a long time coming – years in development, with construction already in progress. Yet the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, with the backing of supporters from across the country, have been able to stop the project – so far – through a combination of protests, legal action, and effective use of social media.

Table of Contents:

  1. Standing Rock Solid with the Frackers: Is Labor Putting Its Head in the Gas Oven?  by Sean Sweeney
  2. Dakota Access Pipeline and the Future of American Labor by Jeremy Brecher
  3. Unions Weigh in on the Dakota Access Pipeline: Statements by AFL-CIO, LIUNA, SEIU, NNU, and CWA

Photo by John Duffy via flickr (CC-BY)