This post was originally featured at Jacobin.
By Erik Forman
The Left has a long tradition of asking ourselves, “What is to be done?” Ever since Lenin posed this rhetorical question, it has served as the hook for an ever-expanding genre of think pieces and calls to action on every imaginable social-movement dilemma.
“What is to be done?” bounces from movement to movement, crisis to crisis, and occasionally illuminates more foundational existential problems of the Left. In that spirit, Jacobin’s recent “Rank and File” issue examined one of our more urgent contemporary questions: what is to be done to revitalize the labor movement? Continue reading “Salting” Built the Labor Movement—It Can Help Rebuild It, Too
Approximately 200,000 workers get paid via debit cards and have long suffered from the fees that come along with them. From ATM withdrawal fees to charges for paper statements and even inactivity fees, these extra charges add up — and can be have a big impact on workers’ take-home pay.
Now, thanks to new rules released last week, employees can breathe a sigh of relief: starting in early 2017, employees will have the ability to make unlimited withdrawals at no charge from at least one ATM that’s located at a “reasonable travel distance” from their work or home.
From the New York Times:
The rules also prohibit a host of incremental fees, including charges for monthly maintenance, account inactivity, overdrafts, checking a card’s balance or contacting customer service.
Companies will have to offer their workers the option of being paid either by cash or check, if they prefer — employers will not be allowed to require that employees accept a payroll card. Federal regulations already prohibit such requirements, but worker advocates say the rule is routinely flouted.
This marks an important development for the retail and service workers who are, increasingly, finding themselves paid by payroll cards rather than checks.
Read more at the New York Times.
Photo by InfoCash via flickr (CC-ND)
The CUNY/New York Times in Education 2016 calendar was just released. Called “Working People,” it’s a beautiful and informative document that lifts up work and workers, serving as a piece of art, journey through history, and useful calendar all-in-one.
From CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken’s introduction to the calendar:
Work. It’s what most of us have to do to earn the money we need to live. Ideally, it’s also what we enjoy doing. For some of us, it defines who we are and aspire to become.
The poets, lyricists, authors and union leaders you’ll find in the 2016 CUNY/ New York Times in Education calendar and website expand upon the changing interpretations of work throughout the history of the United States.
Working People is the 13th such collaboration between The City University of New York and The New York Times in Education. This year we’re pleased to welcome a new partner, the New York City Central Labor Council, whose president, Vincent Alvarez, and policy associate, Alexander Gleason, enthusiastically joined in developing this project.
There’s a good deal of practical wisdom in these pages, whose under lying theme is that all workers need to be valued, respected and treated with dignity.
Read the full introduction and check out the calendar here.
Following in the footsteps of Seattle, San Francisco and Oakland, the Los Angeles City Council voted today to increase its minimum wage to $15/hour by 2020. The NYTimes is calling this “perhaps the most significant victory so far in the national push to raise the minimum wage.”
“The effects here will be the biggest by far,” said Michael Reich, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who was commissioned by city leaders here to conduct several studies on the potential effects of a minimum-wage increase. “The proposal will bring wages up in a way we haven’t seen since the 1960s. There’s a sense spreading that this is the new norm, especially in areas that have high costs of housing.”
Tuesday’s vote could set off a wave of minimum wage increases across Southern California, and the groups pressing for the increases say the new pay scales would change the way of life for the region’s vast low-wage work force.
Read more at the New York Times.
Photo by Denis Bocquet via flickr (CC-BY).
On May 22nd, connect with both global labor history and the ongoing fight for worker justice in this country when the Murphy Institute hosts a screening of Blood Fruit, the award-winning film documentary about the historic 1984 South African anti-apartheid labor strike. Director Sinead O’Brien and subjects from the film who staged the historic strike will be on hand, as will Kendall Fells, organizing director of Fight for $15. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Joseph S. Murphy Institute Scholarship for Diversity in Labor.
Tickets available here.
[youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5tIr45nmxw] Continue reading Film Screening to Raise Funds for Diversity Scholarship
By Joshua Freeman
In a Labor Day op-ed article in the NY Daily News, I argued that even as unions have suffered a series of setbacks and continue to slip in the percentage of workers they represent, labor issues are more prominent now than at any time in the recent past. What we are seeing might be called the re-emergence of “the labor question.” (New York is somewhat exceptional because, as the Murphy Institute’s Ruth Milkman and Stephanie Luce show in a forthcoming study reported in The New York Times, union membership in the city has been rising significantly of late.)
“The labor question” was once a common term, widely used in the early 20th century. On the simplest level, it asked how orderly relations could be maintained between employers and employees, preventing the outbursts of labor strife that had become common in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Continue reading The Labor Question