Category Archives: Murphy News

CWA 1180 Features SLU History

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.

Check out the full article — and history — here.

Video: Energy from Unlikely Sources

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.

Event: Energy From Unlikely Sources: Opportunities For New Organizing (10/12)

Fri, October 12, 2018
8:30 AM – 10:30 AM EDT
CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies
25 W. 43rd Street, 18th Floor, New York, NY 10036

RSVP HERE

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?

Speakers Include:

Lauren Jacobs, Deputy Director, The Partnership for Working Families

Prior to joining PWF, Jacobs worked with the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC) as the National Organizing Director, and served as an organizer with UNITE and later SEIU. She organized thousands of previously non-union workers in three major metropolitan areas, and led campaigns that resulted in breakthroughs in wages, healthcare and other benefits.

Marilyn Sneiderman, Executive Director, Center for Innovation in Worker Organization, Rutgers University

Sneiderman has directed the National AFL-CIO’s Department of Field Mobilization, launching the national “Union Cities” initiative. Sneiderman served as Executive Director of AVODAH, Education Director at the Teamsters, faculty at the George Meany Center for Labor Studies and Georgetown Law School, and was an organizer and rank and file leader at AFSCME.

Larry Cohen, Chair, Board of Directors, Our Revolution, former president of Communications Workers of America (CWA)

Cohen is the former president of the Communications Workers of America. Cohen chaired major contract negotiations in the public and private sectors, including at Verizon and AT&T. He built alliances and support for telecom workers around the world, including in Mexico, Taiwan, South Africa, Germany and other countries. He is a founder of Jobs with Justice.

Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director, ALIGN NY

Silva-Farrell played critical roles in coalitions such as Real Affordability for AllCaring Across Generations, the Universal Pre-K campaign, and the campaign that successfully halted Walmart’s development in East New York. Silva-Farrell is on the board of Partnership for Working FamiliesNew York Communities Organizing Fund, and Edward J. Malloy Initiative for Construction Skills.

Moderated by Penny Lewis, Professor CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies

New Labor Forum Highlights: October 1st, 2018

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.

CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies faculty Ruth Milkman and Stephanie Luce have released their annual report on the status of unions in New York City, New York State, and the nation. The report shows unionization levels holding fairly steady during the past year, though Milkman and Luce note that the near-term prospects for organized labor seem much more dubious.  As a result of the Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME decision in June 2018, public sector workers are now no longer obliged to pay “fair share” fees to the unions that continue to bargain on their behalf. Though a number of states, including New York, have passed legislation to prevent the hemorrhaging public sector union membership, some degree of decline in the public sector union rolls is all but certain, with disparate results nationally. And the decades-long decline in union membership from its peak of 35.4% in 1945 to 10 % today shows little indication of reversal, despite the fact that a plurality of Americans view unions favorably.

A public forum to be held at the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies on October 12th will examine these opposing trends: the weakening of the U.S. labor movement and its broad achievements for all workers, and, at the same time, evidence of an appetite for worker resistance and organizing, as seen in the teacher walkouts in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Arizona earlier this year, and an upsurge in unionization among workers under 35 years old in 2017. Please join us as speakers discuss what this implies about the possibilities and struggles ahead for labor, and which strategic options might enable organized labor to succeed at mass organizing and to join forces with racial and economic justice organizations to become a movement.

Along these lines, we include a think piece titled Invest, Democratize, Organize: Lessons on building more equitable cities from Nashville and Raleigh-Durham, by The Partnership for Working Families, whose Executive Director, Lauren Jacobs, will speak at our forum on October 12th.

Table of Contents

  1. The State of the Unions Report: A Profile of Organized Labor in New York City, New York State and the United States/ Ruth Milkman and Stephanie Luce, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies
  2. Energy From Unlikely Sources: Opportunities for New Organizing/ CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies
  3. Invest, Democratize, Organize: Lessons on building more equitable cities from Nashville and Raleigh-Durham/ The Partnership for Working Families

National Voter Registration Day: Sept. 25th

Tuesday, September 25, is National Voter Registration Day and CUNY is partnering with NYC Votes. National Voter Registration Day seeks to reach voters who haven’t yet registered or updated their registration in the final weeks before the deadline (October 12). All CUNY campuses will be conducting voter registration on this day.

We’re excited that SLU will be part of a national effort to strengthen our community by registering voters on National Voter Registration Day.

On September 25, voter registration tables will be set-up on the 18th and 19th Fl., 5:00pm-7:00pm.

If you aren’t yet registered to vote, come by!

Welcome Letter from SLU Dean Greg Mantsios

Dear Friends of the Murphy Institute and the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies;

On this Labor Day weekend, I want to welcome everyone to the new CUNY School for Labor and Urban Studies (SLU).  As you may know, the School traces its roots to the Murphy Institute which was re-constituted as a CUNY School last year. This week, we proudly opened our doors to students under our new name. The Murphy Institute continues as an important unit of the School—one that is focused on public engagement and workforce development.

SLU is the only interdisciplinary program in Labor and Urban Studies in the nation.  With this letter, we are launching the SLU website (slu.cuny.edu). We invite you to explore it for details about SLU’s undergraduate and graduate programs as well as its range of student and community services.

SLU is driven by a set of core values: access to education, diversity at every level, social justice, and equality for all. Our goals are to expand higher education opportunities for workers; prepare students for careers in public service and movements for social justice; promote civic engagement; provide leadership development for union and community activists; and help workers achieve greater economic security.

Labor Day is a perfect time to acknowledge those who have worked so hard to make SLU a reality. First, I want to thank the City University of New York and its Chancellery for having the vision and the political will to create this new School. The idea for SLU was shaped by many individuals and organizations. Our Advisory Board —chaired by Arthur Cheliotes (Manager of CWA 1180) and consisting of 23 unions and community organization—led this effort over a six-year period. They were committed to creating a School for workers and working-class communities and put enormous effort into raising funds to inaugurate and sustain the School. As a result, we have been honored by the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie as well as leading members of the State legislature and the New York City Council (especially Senator Diane Savino and Council Members Daneek Miller and Inez Baron).

Our faculty of distinguished scholars and practitioners has crafted a rich curriculum that examines the world of work and workers from the perspective of urban communities, especially those that have been underserved by government and public institutions.  We also have   a dedicated staff of program administrators and student services experts who spare no effort to help our students succeed in college.  Finally, SLU is nothing without its decades-long history in worker education and without the remarkable students who have established our reputation as a School for change agents. We are proud to thank the many union organizers and administrators, municipal employees, elected officials, researchers, and community advocates who were and are our students.

In our first year of operation, we will focus on building out the School, hiring additional faculty and staff; expanding current programs; and launching new initiatives. We will establish an academic governance structure for the School—one that is faculty-led and includes student and staff representatives. We will serve new constituencies, with higher education opportunities for resident leaders in housing projects and mentors who counsel youth offenders. Our year-long series of public programs rolls out with a September panel on Democracy and Capitalism (featuring NYC Deputy Mayor Phil Thompson); an October panel on New Labor and Community Organizing (with Larry Cohen, former International President of the CWA and now  Board Chair of Our Revolution); and a November Reporters Roundtable analysis of the 2018 midterm elections. Throughout the year, we will be offering our popular Saturday series on civic leadership, a program that prepares activists to run for public office or work on electoral campaigns.

We have an exciting year ahead. No doubt, we will have our challenges.  But with your continuing support, SLU will meet them and rise to greater heights. I want to thank you for being a part of the SLU community, and I look forward to sharing this banner year with you.

Sincerely,

 

Gregory Mantsios, Ph.D

Founding Dean, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies