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.
With perhaps the most important midterm elections in a generation happening tomorrow, we offer you: an invitation to join us in a post-election reporters roundtable on November 16th; a video from our September 14th forum, featuring the trenchant commentary of New York City Deputy Mayor J. Phillip Thompson on whether a democratic capitalism is possible; midterm polling data that shows white working-class voters in the Midwest returning to the Democratic Party; and a summary of ballot measures in tomorrow’s elections that seek either to expand and further contract our democracy.
Table of Contents:
Blue Wave or Red Tide? 2018 Post-Election Reporters Roundtable/CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY
Is a Democratic Capitalism Possible?/ J. Phillip Thompson, The Murphy Institute, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies
Why are Democrats looking so strong in the Midwest?/ Perry Bacon Jr., FiveThirtyEight
These are the biggest 2018 ballot measures on elections, voting rights, gerrymandering, and more/ Stephen Wolf, Daily Kos
In an electoral season in which the sitting presidential administration has loomed large, what do the elections tell us about the current political landscape, especially with regard to racial, gender and class voting patterns? What do the contemporary Democratic and Republican Parties stand for? What are the challenges and possibilities that face people and organizations committed to social and economic justice? Continue reading Event: Blue Wave or Red Tide? (11/16)→
The Communique is the CWA Local 1180 quarterly newspaper. And in the latest issue, the story of the SLU transition from the Murphy Institute to the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies was featured over three pages. Written by Marci Rosenblum, the pieces starts with the school’s origin days, when it was all just an idea:
The history of the Murphy Institute, now officially the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies, goes back a long way — a really long way — to the days when three labor leaders and two academics sat down for a brainstorming session.
Can the economy be democratized? How can we transform it into a more socially inclusive and ecologically sustainable system? How can we combat the growing concentrations of power and wealth? What current practices point toward a participatory democratic and resilient next system?
Our Economy! Economic Democracy and System Change is a conference designed to stimulate and explore these questions, to be held April 12th, 2019 in midtown, Manhattan.
There is growing interest in forms of ownership that are meaningfully different from the traditional capitalist forms (whether privately owned or publicly traded), build equity for individuals and communities, and utilize forms of decision-making that are more empowering than representational democracy. This includes, among other forms, cooperatives (worker-, consumer-, producer-), co-determination, community land trusts, mutual housing associations, credit unions, participatory budgeting, intentional communities, and calls for basic income or a federal jobs guarantee. Many of these forms of economic democracy have been around for a long time but have never had that much impact within the larger frameworks of a liberal capitalist political economy. Are they up to the task of the present moment? How can they be updated and interconnected to take on the intensifying political, economic, technological, and ecological problems that define our chaotic unequal present?
When the president starts talking trade protectionism, it can be hard to know how to evaluate his rhetoric. SLU professor Stephanie Luce untangled some of the history and policy particulars of the thorny subject of tariffs for Organizing Upgrade:
Donald Trump voiced the real concerns of many Americans when he spoke of the need to bring jobs to communities and to end unfair trade deals. By blocking the Trans-Pacific Partnership, pushing a re-negotiation of NAFTA, and increasing tariffs on a range of imports, Trump has appeared to finally take seriously the needs of unemployed and underemployed workers. Some unions have been calling for tariffs for years, most notably the United Steelworkers. While Obama ran in 2008 on a promise to renegotiate NAFTA he never did so, and in fact became a relentless proponent of expanding “free trade.” Meanwhile, the Trump administration recently announced details of the draft deal with Mexico, and it appears to contain benefits for U.S. and Mexican workers.
So is Trump the worker’s hero? Will increased tariffs return jobs to the US? The left has been weak on this issue. On the one hand, we need to take economic development and job creation seriously. Workers are suffering. Even though official unemployment rates are low, more and more of the jobs people hold are low-wage, insecure, non-union, and dead-end. The left lacks a real program to address the real concerns of those impacted by trade deals. We need to better understand the history of tariffs and trade, and we need an international vision for economic development.
On Friday, October 12th, members of the wider SLU community gathered to ask big questions about the future of the labor movement.
For more than a quarter century, workers and the U.S. labor movement have sustained significant setbacks, including the broad expansion of “right-to-work” conditions; the increasing use by employers of vehicles that enable them to shirk standard employer responsibilities; and the Supreme Court’s tendency to prioritize employers’ property rights over worker rights. Despite these trends, 61 percent of Americans view unions favorably; organizing and unionization among young workers is surging, with three-quarters of new union members in 2017 being under 35 years old; and 2018 saw the largest wildcat strikes in decades, with teacher walkouts in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Arizona challenging wage stagnation and school funding cutbacks. What does this imply about the possibilities and struggles ahead for labor? What are strategic options that would enable organized labor to succeed at mass organizing and to join forces with racial and economic justice organizations to become a movement?
It was a wide-ranging and probing conversation featuring Lauren Jacobs, Deputy Director, The Partnership for Working Families; Marilyn Sneiderman, Executive Director, Center for Innovation in Worker Organization, Rutgers University;
Larry Cohen, Chair, Board of Directors, Our Revolution, former president of Communications Workers of America (CWA); Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director, ALIGN NY; and SLU’s own Penny Lewis.
A conversation about workers, communities and social justice