Tag Archives: Unions

Is this the Bad Kind of Unionism?

This article was originally featured in Jacobin and represents one of many perspectives on the question of police and unions.

On Friday, October 21st, 2016, the Murphy Institute hosted Black, Brown and Blue, a conversation bringing together academics, activists, students, and practitioners to pose crucial questions concerning the criminal justice system and the labor movements’ place and responsibility within it.

By Shawn Gude

Their profession is heavily unionized. Culturally, they have more in common with bus drivers than business executives. Many come from working-class backgrounds.

Yet on the beat, police come in contact with — to question, to arrest, to brutalize — the most disadvantaged. This presents a problem for radicals. If the Left stands for anything, it’s worker emancipation and labor militancy. But police and others in the state’s coercive apparatus, workers themselves in many respects, are the keepers of class society. Their jobs exist to maintain social control and protect the status quo. Continue reading Is this the Bad Kind of Unionism?

Police Organization Chief Apologizes for Mistreatment of Minorities

On Friday, October 21st, 2016, the Murphy Institute hosted Black, Brown and Blue, a conversation bringing together academics, activists, students, and practitioners to pose crucial questions concerning the criminal justice system and the labor movements’ place and responsibility within it.

This week, an important — if controversial — announcement came from an unlikely place. Terrence Cunningham, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, apologized for the the historical role of law enforcement have in the mistreatment of minorities, calling it a “dark side of our shared history.” From the Associated Press:

Cunningham […] said at the group’s annual conference that police have historically been a face of oppression, enforcing laws that ensured legalized discrimination and denial of basic rights. He was not more specific.

Cunningham said today’s officers are not to blame for past injustices. He did not speak in detail about modern policing, but said events over the past several years have undermined public trust. His comments come as police shootings of black men have roiled communities in Ferguson, Missouri; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and suburban St. Paul, Minnesota; and as black shooters have targeted officers in Dallas, the St. Louis suburb of Ballwin and Baton Rouge.

“While we obviously cannot change the past, it is clear that we must change the future,” Cunningham said. “We must forge a path that allows us to move beyond our history and identify common solutions to better protect our communities.

“For our part, the first step in this process is for law enforcement and the (International Association of Chiefs of Police) to acknowledge and apologize for the actions of the past and the role that our profession has played in society’s historical mistreatment of communities of color,” he said.

Read more at PoliceOne.com.

Murphy Event: Black, Brown and Blue (10/21)

Join us!

Where: The Murphy Institute, 25 W. 43rd St., 18th Floor
When: Friday, October 21st, 6-8pm

REGISTER HERE

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.

Speakers:

  • 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.

Unions and Cooperatives: How Workers Can Survive and Thrive

This article was originally featured at Truthout.org. Reprinted with permission.

By Brian Van Slyke, Truthout 

The year 2008 was when the big banks were bailed out, but it was also the year that catalyzed one group of window makers into democratically running their own factory.

On the former industrial hub of Goose Island in Chicago, the employees of Republic Windows and Doors made headlines after they were locked out of their jobs just before Christmas without the back pay or severance they were owed. Organized by the United Electrical Workers Union, these displaced workers did exactly what the ownership hoped they wouldn’t do. They refused to quietly accept the layoffs. Instead, the workers engaged in a sitdown strike at their factory, garnering local and national media attention. Eventually, the employees won the occupation, forcing Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase (Republic’s primary creditors) to create a fund to give the workers their back pay, benefits, and health insurance. This became viewed as a much-needed victory for workers and unions in a desperate economic time.

And this January, more than seven years after their initial takeover, the workers finally received their last payment won from their struggle. According to the Chicago Tribune, “The National Labor Relations Board announced Wednesday that it will distribute to 270 union workers $295,000 in back pay stemming from labor law violations.”

While many people know about the takeover of Republic Windows and Doors, the story of what happened next has flown under the radar. Continue reading Unions and Cooperatives: How Workers Can Survive and Thrive

Unprecedented? Unions and Community Unite to Halt Plans to Build Coal Export Terminal in Oakland, California

By Elena Mora for Trade Unions for Energy Democracy

A short but well-organized campaign to stop plans to build a coal export terminal in the Oakland Port resulted in a packed Oakland City Council meeting on September 21, and a vote requiring a public health impact study to guide the Council’s action, up to and including a moratorium on coal.

Screenshot 2015-09-26 10.47.56

The campaign, “Coal Free Oakland,” led by the Sierra Club and others, brought together a very broad coalition (more than 80 organizations), with significant union participation, including the Alameda Labor Council, which passed a resolution calling on the city to reject the coal export plan. Continue reading Unprecedented? Unions and Community Unite to Halt Plans to Build Coal Export Terminal in Oakland, California

De-Unionization & the Future of Work

Pacific Standard is working on a special project in which experts and activists weigh in on the future of work. In a recent entry (The Future of Work: The Forces Against Organized Labor, Oct 1, 2015), Murphy Prof. Ruth Milkman outlines the forces producing the decline in unionization in the United States. She writes:

Contrary to popular belief, de-unionization is not primarily due to globalization or new technology: Successful attacks on organized labor have affected many place-bound low-tech industries, like construction or hospitality, nearly as much as manufacturing. The primary driver of labor’s decline is the growing power of corporate employers who are fiercely determined to weaken unions where they already exist and to prevent their emergence elsewhere. That determination is reinforced by the ideology of market fundamentalism, for which both unionism itself and governmental protection of the right to organize are anathema. Continue reading De-Unionization & the Future of Work