This International Workers’ Day, celebrate as workers have throughout history: take to the streets. For a guide to the marches, rallies, protest and strikes happening throughout New York City, hop over to Gothamist, where Emma Whitford has compiled an overview of the day’s events. Happy May Day!
Photo by Wally Gobetz via flickr (CC-BY-NC-ND)
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 issue, we’re looking at the explosion of what is being called ‘the resistance.’ The vast proliferation of organizing in the face of President Trump raises important questions Should partisans inside the Democratic Party wage a fight between its left and it’s center, or combine forces? Does the proliferation of new efforts represent genuinely innovative projects, or does it mask a great deal of overlap and wheel reinvention? Should the main target of organizing be Trump and the Republicans, or broader, systemic obstacles that include casino capitalism? Finally, what does it mean that the largest, most powerful progressive institutions – such as organized labor – don’t seem to be at the forefront of this resistance?
Today’s issue includes a piece written for the newsletter by Tom Gallagher on the strategic options confronting the left within the Democratic Party; an article by Micah Uetricht soon to appear in the May issue of New Labor Forum assessing the Sander’s inspired Our Revolution as well as various snapshots of what this resistance is looking like in the current moment, including the breaking news that a major local of the Service Employees International Union as well as a multitude of workers centers plan to participate in a May Day strike.
Table of Contents
- The Democratic Party Left After the Ellison DNC Campaign: Unite or Fight? By Thomas Gallagher
- The World Turned Upside Down: ‘Our Revolution,’ Trump Triumphant, and the Remaking of the Democratic Party by Micah Uetricht
- List of New Resistance Initiatives in 2017
- GroundGame listing of protests
- SEIU Local Joins May 1 General Strike by (BuzzFeed) Cora Lewis
- Indivisible Eldorado Hills Townhall meeting
Photo by Ted Eytan via flickr (CC-SA)
On Monday, residents of cities and states around the country celebrated Indigenous Peoples’ Day. New Yorkers, meanwhile, observed a holiday with what, for many, is an offensive and outdated name: Columbus Day.
Cities like Seattle, Denver and Phoenix have all renamed the civic holiday in honor of the indigenous people on whose land America was founded, rather than the colonial conqueror who claimed it in the name of Europeans. But New York City has yet to make such a move. For indigenous activists and their allies, this failure is part of a long chain of white supremacist actions, aggressions and traumas, the symbols of which are visible throughout the city.
One such symbol is a 10-foot tall statue in front of the American Museum of Natural History. The statue features Theodore Roosevelt on a horse, flanked on one side by an African man and on the other, an indigenous man: a starkly racist image of a colonialist history. This past Monday, hundreds of activists came together to cover the statue with a parachute and “Decolonize This Place,” demanding both the removal of the statue and the renaming of the holiday. Continue reading Decolonize This Museum: An Indigenous Peoples’ Day Action
Yesterday’s PSC protest at the offices of CUNY central administration led to the arrest of several dozen CUNY faculty members. Hundreds of CUNY staff and faculty members participated in the protest, held on behalf of the approximately 25,000 faculty and professional staff members who have been working without a contract, and without raises, since 2010. From the New York Times coverage of the action:
On Wednesday, before the protest, the university made an offer for a six-year contract, beginning in 2010, which would include salary increases totaling 6 percent. The university described the contract in a news release as reflective of its “current fiscal condition and its ability to fund a new contract.”
But Dr. [Barbara] Bowen [president of the Professional Staff Congress/CUNY] said the increases would not keep up with inflation and therefore represented a salary cut. “We feel that education at CUNY is endangered,” said Dr. Bowen, a professor of English at Queens College and CUNY’s Graduate Center. She said that salaries at CUNY were not competitive with other public universities in the region.
“CUNY’s secret has always been that it has attracted the first rank of faculty and staff,” she said.
“What has happened in this contract period and now with Chancellor Milliken’s failed offer is that that will not be possible anymore,” she added. “We think it’s depriving our students of what they need. We think it’s an attack on our students.”
For the full article, visit the New York Times.
This past Sunday, dozens of B&H workers publicly aired their grievances against their employer, the largest non-chain photo retailer in the country. Employees marched into the NYC store to deliver a letter and launch a campaign calling for the business to “fix dangerous workplace conditions, end discrimination against Latino employees, and stop wage theft at their two Brooklyn warehouses.”
Laura Gottesdiener covered the action for Al Jazeera America (“Photo retailer B&H faces unwanted exposure over worker safety“), writing:
In the main B&H warehouse located in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard, the walls and ceilings are insulated with fiberglass that fills the air and flecks off onto the worker’s skin, causing rashes, respiration problems and daily nosebleeds, employees say. Inside a second warehouse, on Evergreen Avenue in Brooklyn, employees say they have worked amid asbestos-insulated tubing. “They would tell us to clean the tubes,” recalled maintenance worker Miguel Angel Muñoz Meneses, “but nobody wanted to touch them.” Continue reading B&H: Labor Exploiter?
July flies by, swirls of activity and here we are: the fight for fifteen changing the landscape for low-wage workers across the country, while the deaths of Sandra Bland and Samuel Dubose make it clear that #blacklivesmatter remains as pressing as ever.
- Greenpeace activists in Portland, Oregon suspended themselves from the St. John’s Bridge to obstruct a Shell icebreaking trip en route to the Arctic. After forcing the ship to turn around yesterday, today the activists were removed by law enforcement officers. (via DemocracyNow!)
- The NYTimes featured a long-ish read by Ian Urbina on “sea slaves,” workers from Cambodia and Myanmar sold into forced labor on fishing boats, fueled by “lax maritime labor laws and an insatiable global demand for seafood.” A horrifying and eye-opening article.
- Teamsters labor organizers are holding a vote to unionize Google Express, the low-wage workers who power the online empire’s shopping service (via MotherJones)
- The Guardian US became yet another media outlet to successfully unionize, when the newsroom staffers voted unanimously on Wednesday to unionize (via HuffPost)
- Chicago unions won a court ruling stating that pension cuts are unconstitutional
- Last week, 1000+ protesters headed to San Diego to demonstrate against the annual meeting of ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Committee, “a conservative nonprofit organization known for drafting and sharing legislation amongst politicians, thus facilitating the collusion between corporations and government” (via WagingNonviolence)
- How can the labor movement support police unions in a time of police brutality and oppressive injustice, particularly against communities of color? According to Shawn Jude at Jacobin, we can’t.
- Trying to make sense of the New York State wage panel’s minimum wage proposal? Here’s an explainer, courtesy of the New York Times.
Photo by Twelvizm via flickr (CC-BY-ND).