Tag Archives: student work

Fall 2016 Capstone Presentations: Labor Studies MA

Compliments to our Fall 2016 Capstone students in the Labor Studies MA program! On November 29th and December 6th, with the supervision of Professor Lynne Turner, our MA candidates enlightened the audience and stimulated discussion about their research topics:

  • Milica Bogetic – The Trauma Doesn’t Stop at the Incident: A Case Study of Investigators’ Emotional Labor
  • Daniel Buk – Letting Labor Lead: How Germany Integrates Workers into Its Nation’s Innovation & Growth Policies Through Co-Determination
  • Steven Calco – Gender Politics in the CUNY Student Movement
  • Erica Dodt – Confronting Climate Change: The Blue-Green Alliance and the Prospects of Labor and Environmental Movements Working Together
  • Catherine Garcia – Inequality at the Workplace: The Gender Wage Gap
  • Micah Landau – Labor Movement Revitalization and Rank-and-File Caucuses: Lessons from Teamsters for a Democratic Union
  • Sarah Madden – This Affects Me: An App for a 21st Century Labor Movement
  • Samantha Sherry – Changing the Conversation: Framing in the #FightFor15 Movement
  • Samantha Valente – “Winner the Welder:” Ruth Young and the Fight for Gender Reform through the United Electrical Workers in the 1940’s

Dial-an-Organizer: Using Storytelling and Emotion to Build Movements

By Kressent Pottenger

Imagine: you call a hotline to complain about how you were fired for being pregnant or harassed by your manager. On the other end, an operator gives you advice on organizing and labor law.

It sounds unlikely today, but in the 1970s, a group of women clerical workers, frustrated with their treatment, developed and achieved success with these non-traditional methods of organizing.

Migrating from the unpaid labor of the home to wage labor in the office, women workers needed a safe way to confide the humiliations and degradation they were experiencing in their offices. The working women’s group 9to5 therefore developed the “9to5 Job Survival Hotline,” which functioned much like hotlines for domestic abuse or suicide. This private hotline allowed women workers to call, anonymously, describe their grievances in what was at times embarrassing detail, and determine how to push back. 9to5 thereby created a safe space via phone for women workers to call and speak about what they endured on the job, and learn what course of action to take next. Continue reading Dial-an-Organizer: Using Storytelling and Emotion to Build Movements

Becoming a Labor Activist: A Student’s Story

By Mohammad Amin

Dhaka Roots

Growing up in the overcrowded capital of Bangladesh, Dhaka, I learned how to live and work for others. Dhaka is rife with inequality and disorder. A few possess wealth and power; while many bear all the burdens of rapid urbanization, political instability, poverty, and socio-economic inequality. One insight into this rampant inequality is apparent on the roads. Only five percent of people own a private car, yet these cars obstruct the city streets, which are already narrow for the overpopulated city, leaving the other ninety-five percent of the population to wait in overloaded public transit centers. Even as a young high school student, I saw firsthand the devastating inequality and injustice in that city.

After high school graduation, I was fortunate to be accepted into the University of Dhaka, where the admissions ratio is almost 1 is to 80. Providing almost free tuition for higher education, the university hosts some of the most talented students and scholars who come from every social status and geographic areas of the country. As the oldest university in the country, it also sits in the heart of Bangladeshi culture, politics, and socioeconomic mobility. Continue reading Becoming a Labor Activist: A Student’s Story

Capstones: Labor Studies Students Share Work, Reflections

Congratulations to our Fall 2015 Capstone students in the Labor Studies MA program! With the guidance of Professor Michael Murphy (connecting from Washington DC), our MA candidates engaged the audience in great conversations about their research topics.

Richard Gorgoglione:

“The WPA and the Transformation of Staten Island”

IMG_1136This research project explores how the WPA contributed to Staten Island and its residents. Structures that still stand today are monuments to the men and women of that era who labored during one of the darkest periods in economic history. The WPA, even though short-lived (1935 to 1943) has transformed Staten Island into the borough of parks, considered today a cultural and recreational gem.

Francisco Gomez:

“Engaging in a Contemporary Debate about Technology and the Workplace in New York City”

Blithe Riley:

“Workers and the Sharing Economy: New York City Unions Fight Uber and AirBnB”

Edward Kennedy:

“Time to Get Crafty: Organizing Attorneys at the Edge of a Profession in the Intercises of Federal Regulation”

Ed%20Kennedy

I examine the plight of temporary contract attorneys in a restructured legal market. I then propose a plan of action for the reinvigoration of craft or occupational unionism in spite of adverse federal law through a synergy of three organizational forms and the application of the strategies of New Labor.

Paz Petersson:

“Global Grey Area: The Growing Nonstandard Workforce”

Karen Master:

“Building Voices From the Floor: Labor-Management Partnerships and Resident Physician Unionization”

karenThis paper examines the work of CIR/SEIU around experiments engaging unionized resident physicians in quality improvement. I found that this area of work is best analyzed academically in the context of labor-management partnerships, which have strong implications for best practices that fit with observations about the benefits and potential pitfalls of the work. Partnering on quality improvement is a way to capitalize on current healthcare trends to enhance the worker voices of resident physicians and broaden a union leadership base, potentially strengthening the power of the union. However, it is vital that the union also find the right management partners and preserve its autonomy and ability to address other workplace issues. 

Chris Maisano:

“Rivalry and Revitalization in the U.S. Labor Movement: The Case of SSEU and AFSCME District Council Local 371” 

IMG_3749Rival unionism has long been anathema to the U.S. labor movement. Opposition to inter-union competition has united labor activists across ideological and strategic divides, establishing rivalry, competition, and “raiding” as the worst crimes against trade union morality one could possibly commit. However, despite the official taboo on rival unionism it has been a consistent feature of U.S. labor movement activity since the nineteenth century. Not only has it been a constant presence in U.S. labor history, inter-union competition has made a positive contribution to both union growth and internal reform at critical junctures in the development of American unionism. A case study of the rivalry between the independent Social Service Employees Union and Local 371 (AFSCME District Council 37) in New York during the 1960s should be counted among the foremost examples of positive-sum inter-union competition in U.S. labor history. The rivalry was extremely beneficial for both unions and their members, and in the long run the incumbent union (Local 371) benefited the most from competition. The emergence of SSEU as a serious competitor forced Local 371 to undergo a process of internal reform that it might not have undertaken otherwise. Instead of ignoring or dismissing rival unionism, scholars should reconsider the potential contributions it might make to the cause of labor movement revitalization today.

Jim Dandeneau:

“Crisis of Infinite Exploitation: The Fight for Fair Pay and Creative Control in the Comic Book Industry”

Raise the Age!

By Ken Francis

It’s October, and a group of students are lined up against a fence outside their school, bundled up against the unexpected frost. Hoodies are pulled taut, hands are gloved and beanies with bright pom-poms are pulled low. These students, aged 10 through 15, are waiting to shake their principal’s hand before they enter the school building. Afterward, they’ll bound into the building and bounce against each other like so many marbles in a bowl. They are disorderly, they are playful, they are children. Or are they?

How much will any of them mature in the next year? At 16, could they appropriately be considered adults? And, if one of them makes a mistake and commits a crime, should s/he be prosecuted as an adult? Continue reading Raise the Age!

NYCHA, Representation & Service Provision: A Student’s Perspective

Featured photo via Urban Upbound

By Paula Bonfatti

For the past three months, I have interned in the research department of Urban Upbound, a nonprofit organization that provides services to public housing residents in Queens, New York. Urban Upbound supplies this community with tools and resources needed to achieve economic mobility and self-sufficiency; their vision is to help residents break cycles of poverty. They primarily serve the Queensbridge Housing Development, which — with its 3,142 apartments — is known as America’s largest operating public housing project.

Master of Arts in Urban Studies Candidate Paula Bonfatti Lima
Master of Arts in Urban Studies Candidate Paula Bonfatti Lima

In New York City, there are over 607,000 people living in public housing developments under the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). 110,000 (18.1%) of these residents are children under 18 years old. Historically, public housing developments have been criticized by the mainstream as isolated, low-income urban population. Some critics contend that this housing creates vertical structural poverty in socioeconomically depressed neighborhoods. In addition, critics charge that these concentrated pockets of poverty are subject to high crime rates, unemployment and low turnover. However, NYCHA has 328 public housing units throughout the City’s five boroughs and serves 175,747 families, and has committed itself to playing an important role in fighting urban poverty and leveraging economically vulnerable communities. Continue reading NYCHA, Representation & Service Provision: A Student’s Perspective