Tag Archives: nlf highlights

New Labor Forum Highlights: April 17th, 2018

The New Labor Forum has 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.

This newsletter appears one week in advance of the fifth anniversary of Rana Plaza garment factory collapse, the worst disaster in the history of factory-based garment production. Evidence had been legion of the construction defects of the Rana Plaza factories in the Dhaka District of Bangladesh. In fact, on the morning of April 24th, some of the 3,639 Rana Plaza workers had pointed out large cracks in the factory walls and refused to enter.  Factory owner, Sohel Rana, is reported to have threatened the circumspect workers with non payment for the month of April and, with hired goons, forced their entry into the building. Less than an hour later, 1,135 workers perished in the collapsing buildings.

In their trenchant article for New Labor Forum, Rich Appelbaum and Nelson Lichtenstein reveal the great degree of integration between corporate brands and retailers and the manufacturers of the global south that source their product. This global supply chain functions under a legal regime that absolves those brands and retailers of responsibility for the substandard pay and working conditions that undergirds this business model.

This week, from April 18-24, students, union members, consumers, and activists around the world will participate in a Global Week of Action calling on apparel brands to sign the 2018 Accord, a promising initiative discussed in the Appelbaum and Lichtenstein article, to hold powerful retailers and brands responsible for working conditions in supplier factories. In the United States, demonstrations will take place at A&F stores around the country on Saturday, April 21.

Table of Contents

  1. An Accident in History/ Rich Appelbaum and Nelson Lichtenstein, New Labor Forum
  2. Global Week of Action/ United Students Against Sweatshops
  3. Are factories better in Bangladesh after Rana Plaza? That depends on who you ask/ Andrea Crossan and Jasmine Garsd, Public Radio International, The World
  4. “Rana Plaza” Poem/ Eileen Ridge

Photo by rijans via flickr (CC-BY-SA)

New Labor Forum Highlights: March 19th, 2018

The New Labor Forum has 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.

On Friday, March 23rd, the Murphy Institute, publisher of New Labor Forum, will be holding two important public events. Those events provide the dual focus of today’s newsletter.

NLF Consulting Editor Joshua Freeman will be speaking on his important new book Behemoth: The Factory and the Making of the Modern World and sharing the stage with award-winning journalist Louis Uchitelle, who will discuss his book Making It: Why Manufacturing Still Matters. The decline of U.S. manufacturing jobs – to the tune of 28 percent over the past two decades—has, of course, been a primary concern of the trade union movement, which fought tooth and nail to turn that grueling work into decent jobs and a base of union strength. In his recent, ad hoc announcement of 25 and 10 percent tariffs on steel and aluminum, respectively, President Trump sought to capitalize on those concerns. As it turns out, the political history of imposing tariffs as a means to defend manufacturing goes back to the founding of the country, as discussed in an illuminating article for New Labor Forum by Joshua Freeman and Steve Fraser, included here. And what are progressive economists’ to make of the current iteration of protectionism? In their recent op-ed for the Washington Post, Jared Bernstein and Dean Baker critique Trump’s ill-considered trade tariffs, arguing for a trade policy that would support those whose jobs are lost to global trade, while reducing certain protections, namely for professionals and patents that keep the cost of our healthcare so high.

The second public event at the Murphy Institute will bring the #MeToo movement out of the Hollywood spotlight and into the realm of lower waged work in restaurants, on the factory floor, and the hotel cleaning crew, where change often depends on collective action and the coupling of feminist and class consciousness. Providing a historic context for these contemporary efforts, we offer an article by scholars Eileen Boris and Annelise Orleck, written for New Labor Forum on the hundredth anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.

Table of Contents

  1. Book Talk: “Behemoth: The Factory and the Making of the Modern World” & “Making It: Why Manufacturing Still Matters”/ Joshua Freeman & Louis Uchitelle, The Murphy Institute
  2. “In the Rearview Mirror” Trading Places: Protecting American Industry is so Yesterday/ Steve Fraser & Joshua Freeman, New Labor Forum 
  3. We know what bad trade policy looks like. But what about good trade policy?/ Jared Bernstein and Dean Baker, The Washington Post
  4. Promising Practices: Labor and Community Fighting Sexual Harassment in the Era of #MeToo/ The Murphy Institute and The Worker Institute at Cornell ILR
  5. FEMINISM AND THE LABOR MOVEMENT: A Century of Collaboration and Conflict/ Eileen Boris and Annelise Orleck/ New Labor Forum

Photo by Nestle (CC-NC-ND)

New Labor Forum Highlights: Feb. 5th, 2018

The New Labor Forum has 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 neoliberal trend that has corporatized higher education and made of it a brave new world of contingent faculty labor has also given rise to an ethos of student consumerism that acts, on occasion, to persecute that precarious workforce. In the winter 2018 issue of New Labor Forum, Joshua Sperber takes a close look at the “Rate My Professor” website which functions in just this way, as a kind of online disciplinarian, intimidating and humiliating  an academic precariat whose intellectual labors are subject to the whims of the marketplace.

Unsurprisingly, these conditions have continued to spark nationwide campaigns among contingent faculty to raise wages, secure benefits, increase job security, and defend academic freedom. In an article for New Labor Forum and in a talk delivered at the Murphy Institute, Malini Cadambi Daniel assesses the prospects of this organizing to reconfigure campuses as neither ivory towers nor sweatshops.

We also draw your attention to the work of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions at CUNY’s Hunter College. From April 15 – 17, 2018, the National Center will host a conference entitled Facing New Realities in Higher Education and the Professions, featuring David Weil and other prominent scholars.

Table of Contents

1. Making the Grade: Rating Professors- Joshua Sperber/ New Labor Forum
2. Contingent Faculty of the World Unite! Organizing to Resist the Corporatization of Higher Education-Malini Cadambi Daniel/ New Labor Forum
3. Lessons in Adjunct Organizing- Video of talk by Malini Cadambi Daniel/ The Murphy Institute
4. 45th Annual National Conference: Facing New Realities in Higher Education and the Professions, April 15-17, 2018-The National Center/ Hunter College, CUNY

Photo by Timothy Krause via flickr (CC-BY)

New Labor Forum Highlights: Jan 22nd, 2018

The New Labor Forum has 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.

TNLF Winter 2018 Coverhe January 2018 issue of New Labor Forum, off press this week, grapples with perhaps the most perplexing of the 2016 election polling data: the fact that a majority of white women voters helped elect Donald J. Trump. In our feature article, Sarah Jaffe deciphers this political enigma, which will prove vital if the change in political tides apparently  underway is to become more permanent.

Certainly banners held aloft at last weekend’s massive Women’s Marches, from Sioux Falls to San Francisco and from Los Vegas to L.A., showed a rejection of the President’s racist and anti-immigrant invective, an eagerness to “grab ’em by the midterms,” and a determination that “Time’s Up” on sexual harassment from the corridors of government to the night shift and the factory floor. Current polling, cited below, indicates that some mix of these views has now become widespread among the female electorate. Also highlighted in this newsletter is a New Labor Forum-hosted debate, featuring J. Philip Thompson and Adam Hilton, concerning the distinct choices confronting progressives in and around the Democratic Party, an issue of obvious salience through the midterms and well beyond.

Subscribe here for the print issue!

Table of Contents

  1. Why Did a Majority of White Women Vote for Trump? Sarah Jaffe/ New Labor Forum
  2. White women helped carry Trump to the White House. Now they overwhelmingly favor Democrats. Poll Watch/ This Week
  3. Is Now the Time to Break with the Democrats?: A Debate- J. Phillip Thompson & Adam Hilton/ New Labor Forum
  4. What is required to build a multi-racial working-class political movement? J. Phillip Thompson & Liza Featherstone/ The Murphy Institute

Photo via flickr (cc)

New Labor Forum Highlights: Oct 30th, 2017

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.

New Labor Forum continues to discuss and debate the macro-economic and social forces that have contributed to the rightward shift in our national politics — among them, gaping wealth and income gaps, the outsourcing and downsizing of jobs in union-dense industries, the scapegoating of immigrants, and persistent forms of racism. Exacerbating the impact of those larger forces has been a strategic, highly effective effort known for over two centuries as gerrymandering. During the past seven years, the art of redrawing election districts for political gain has become a fairly exact science in the hands of right-wing super PACs and the Republicans they back.

Here we turn our attention to this radical right endeavor following the 2010 Census, offering a video clip from a recent talk at the Murphy Institute by David Daley, author of Ratf**ked: Why Your Vote Doesn’t Count.  We also provide a report by the Brennan Center for Justice, entitled Extreme Maps, which closely tracks the manipulation of election district lines, with greatest effects in seven states: Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania,  Florida, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia. The Brennan Center joins the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund and dozens of other organizations that have filed amicus briefs in support of appellants in Gill v. Whitford, the most important case on the constitutionality of gerrymandering in over a decade, now under consideration by the Supreme Court. Included here is a Slate piece by Mark Joseph Stern reporting on the case’s hearing on October 3rd.

Table of Contents

  1. Divided Results: Voting And Partisan Gerrymandering/ David Daley, Murphy Institute
  2. Extreme Maps/ Laura Royden and Michael Li, Brennan Center for Justice, NYU School of Law
  3. Partisan Gerrymandering Got the Sotomayor Treatment/ Mark Joseph Stern, Slate

Photo by judy_and_ed via flickr (CC-BY-NC)

New Labor Forum Highlights: Oct 2nd, 2017

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.

A number of contemporary economists and political observers have begun to argue that remedies for the devastating consequences of neoliberalism can be found in the economic and social arrangements associated with information-technology. They detect therein the makings of a post-capitalist future.  In the current issue of New Labor Forum, U.S. historian Howard Brick takes issue with the info-tech disciples. Brick also considers naive what he views as their over reliance on spontaneous collective action, and a disregard for the work of building solidarity and systematic organizing so essential to socialist and labor movements. We include a link to Brick’s article here, as well as an interview Laura Flanders conducts with Paul Mason, author of Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future, a leading theoretician of the view that the digital world cannot be assimilated into the accumulation process of capitalism and that it contains the seeds of an alternative economic model.

Whether or not a post-capitalist future lies on the horizon, the gig economy has arrived and is already shaping the conditions and imaginings of millions of workers. In our current installment of “Working-Class Voices,” Clynton Lowry, a young art handler who crates, transports, and assembles artwork,  draws a compelling picture of the simultaneous attraction and exploitation of this sort of gig work, as well as the inherent obstacles it poses to worker solidarity.

Table of Contents

  1. Info-Tech Is Not the New Utopia/ Howard Brick, New Labor Forum
  2. Paul Mason on Post-Capitalism and “A Guide to Our Future”/ Interview on The Laura Flanders Show
  3. The Ecstasy and Exploitation of Art Handling/ Clynton Lowry & Kressent Pottenger,  New Labor Forum

Photo by paul.comstock via flickr (CC-BY)