Category Archives: New Labor Forum

New Labor Forum

New Labor Forum is a national labor journal from the Murphy Institute and the City University of New York. Published three times a year, New Labor Forum provides a place for labor and its allies to test and debate new ideas. Issues we explore include (but are not limited to): the global economy’s impact on work and labor; new union organizing and political strategies; labor’s new constituencies and their relationship to organized labor’s traditional institutions; internal union reform and new structural models for the labor movement; alternative economic and social policies; and the role of culture in a new, revitalized labor movement. Read the latest issue or subscribe to New Labor Forum.

New Labor Forum Highlights: December 3rd, 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.

With this installment of the New Labor Forum newsletter, we take a break from our bi-weekly offering of free articles, reports, videos, and poems. This holiday season, we ask you to support the journal by taking out a gift subscription now for a friend and subscribe or re-up yourself for 2019!  This month, subscribers will also receive a free back issue of New Labor Forum from 2018.

The journal has a long and proud history of publishing the work of cutting-edge labor activists, first-rate scholars, and journalists who debate and discuss the full range of issues confronting workers and working-class communities. Highlights from the January 2019 issue provide manifest proof of that:

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Shoshana Zuboff’s Surveillance Capitalism and the Challenge of Collective Actionwill present an extended essay summation of her forthcoming book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power.  Zuboff theorizes how surveillance capitalism opens up a whole new era in capital accumulation.  Relying on a process of primitive accumulation, which has always been characteristic of capitalism, it extends capital’s reach beyond nature and human labor into the interior, intimate life of human beings, by tracking, manipulating, and trading in human behavior.  She calls the new system the “Big Other” and ponders what new forms of collective resistance might emerge to challenge the dominion of surveillance capitalism.

In Renewing Working-Class Internationalism, Aziz Rana will reckon with the fact that, for some time now, the new left as a whole, pre-occupied with domestic political issues, has failed to offer an alternative vision of a left foreign policy.  His article will suggest what a left foreign policy should entail, urging progressives to break through the artificial division between domestic and foreign affairs, arguing − as did social democrats of yesteryear − that the dominion of capital at home depends on its political and economic over-lordship throughout the rest of the world.

Ted Fertik will offer provocative answers to the question What Did the Midterms Tell Us About the Future of the Electoral Left?  Presenting an anatomy of the left’s electoral coalition,  he’ll take a stab at assessing the prospects for “multiracial left populism.”

And in Sex Work Is Work, Riley Renegade, a sex worker and organizer, will pan the trepidation of feminists and labor organizers to accept this form of labor that far predates capitalism.  She describes both the harmfully exploitative and the rewarding nature of work in her segment of this multi-billion dollar industry.

New Labor Forum Highlights: November 20th, 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.

With this installment of New Labor Forum Highlights, we offer two important articles from the current issue of the journal, as well as two poems you won’t want to miss.

We’ve all heard Donald Trump denounce the “deep state”, yet seen him people his administration with generals, CIA mandarins, and hedge fund operators. An article here by Jacob Silverman probes the origins of the “deep state” in the National Security Act of 1947, chronicles its imperial mission abroad, and maps the division of labor between its foreign and domestic policy apparatchiks. Silverman’s tracking of these mainly unelected centers of power should put to rest the tendency to see in these deep state institutions, long thebete noire of the left, a guarantor of civil liberties.

And first among countries able to count on the support of the “deep state” is, of course, Israel, despite that nation’s sustained human rights violations against the people who once inhabited the land it controls. An article by Andrew Ross tallies the immense labor contribution of Palestinians, particularly through their ongoing construction work to erect and expand the superstructure of Israel. Given not only the role of Palestinian labor in building the Israeli state, but also the fact that it’s been a compulsory and hyper-exploited labor force, Ross finds a strong case for labor-based reparations to Palestinians. Ross proposes that Palestinian labor contributions ought to provide a rationale for full citizenship rights, and perhaps other claims as well, should a multi-cultural integrated Israeli state ultimately emerge.

And we conclude with the work of Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish (1942-2008), and of American Jewish poet, Elana Bell. Darwish’s Identity Card became a protest anthem in the 1960s, triggering the Israeli government to place him under house arrest.  And Elana Bell, granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, comes to grips with a land that is both a Zionist dream and an occupied state. Her poem, “There are things this poem would rather not say” bears witness to the labor debt Israelis owe the Palestinian people.  Continue reading New Labor Forum Highlights: November 20th, 2018

New Labor Forum Highlights: October 22nd, 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.

As progressive organizing surges within and around the Democratic Party, activists looking toward “the left wing of the possible” increasingly turn their gaze across the Atlantic to The Remarkable Rise of Jeremy Corbyn. In the current issue of New Labor Forum, Hilary Wainwright suggests that it is Corbyn’s bold challenge to neo-liberal policies that has won him the support of the youth and a rank-and-file battered by rising student debt, skyrocketing housing costs, increasing precarity, and declining public services.

Reclaiming the value and efficacy of public ownership and economic democracy is among the most audacious aspects of the new Labour Party “Manifesto.” Addressing the Labour Party annual conference in Liverpool in early September, Shadow Chancellor John McDonald announced “We are extending economic democracy even further by bringing water, energy, Royal Mail and rail into public ownership.”

Labour’s plan for public ownership of energy also undergirds it commitment to reach zero emissions by 2050. New Labor Forum columnist and the Trade Unions for Energy Democracy global coordinator Sean Sweeney, under the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies, is currently working with UK unions in helping with the development of this plan, recently elaborated at the Labour Party Conference by Rebecca Long Bailey, Labour Party Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.  She told the conference, “This is not the time for piecemeal measures. We do not have to settle for whatever the market can deliver, and sleep walk into catastrophe. We need a plan of action.” Long Bailey recently addressed a TUED conference in Sheffield where unions debated how the energy system should be taken back into public ownership.

Table of Contents: 

1. The Remarkable Rise of Jeremy Corbyn/ Hilary Wainwright, New Labor Forum
2. Labour wants green energy to power most UK homes by 2030/ Adam Vaughan, The Guardian
3. Rebecca Long Bailey speaking at Labour Party Conference today/ UK Labour Party 

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

New Labor Forum Highlights: September 17th, 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.

How far we’ve come since Anita Hill’s riveting testimony during the Clarence Thomas nomination hearings twenty-seven years ago! Now that the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault has come forward, his hasty confirmation appears far less certain. His accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, says she’s willing to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Should she do so, her statements are likely to acquire a heightened credence made possible by the #MeToo movement. With this news in mind, we offer Beyond #MeToo, an article from the current issue of New Labor Forum by social analyst Judith Levine. Levine surveys the working-class branch of the #MeToo movement and assesses the options—from the courts to unions to consciousness raising—available to blue-collar, service, and care workers as they confront widespread workplace sexual harassment.

We also draw your attention to a recent report by The National Women’s Law Project titled, Out of the Shadows: An Analysis of Sexual Harassment Charges Filed by Working Women. This report includes the findings that, between 2012 and 2016, Millenials and Gen Xers filed sexual harassment charges with the EEOC at over double the rate of Baby Boomers; and black women were disproportionately represented among those who filed complaints. Evidence included in the report shows that, although an estimated 87 to 94 percent of those harmed by sexual harassment never file a legal complaint, the tides are now turning.

The National Women’s Law Project has also produced an analysis of The Record of Brett M. Kavanaugh’s Critical Legal Rights for Women, which points to multiple causes for concern to women, people of color, and workers. High on the list of the concerns enumerated in the report would be Kavanaugh’s predisposition toward limiting individual rights. Kavanaugh is quoted saluting former Chief Justice for “stemming the general tide of freewheeling judicial creation of un-enumerated rights that were not rooted in the nation’s history and tradition.” Among those un-enumerated rights, one might argue, are indeed the very constitutional amendments upon which so many of us have come to rely.

Table of Contents

  1. Beyond #MeToo/ Judith Levine, New Labor Forum
  2. Out of the Shadows: An Analysis of Sexual Harassment Charges Filed by Working Women/ Amanda Rossie, Jasmine Tucker and Kayla Patrick, National Women’s Law Center
  3. The Record of Brett M. Kavanaugh on Critical Legal Rights for Women/ National Women’s Law Center

Photo by Charles Edward Miller via flickr (cc-by-sa)

New Labor Forum Student Essay Contest

Are you a student or recent alumni of the Murphy Institute? Well we want your essays!

New Labor Forum, the Murphy Institute’s journal of ideas, analysis and debate, is excited to announce a new Essay Contest for currently enrolled students and alumni that have graduated in the past two years.

We invite original essays (neither previously published, nor under consideration for publication elsewhere) on a wide range of topics regarding contemporary working-class life and communities, the politics and policies bearing on those communities, and worker organizing taking place in and outside of organized labor.

Essays may be first person accounts, or scholarly and analytical pieces. We encourage fresh thinking on crucial challenges, provocative and well-grounded arguments, and/or efforts to wrestle with new and concrete information. Contributors should avoid jargon, assumptions, technical language, “academese,” and well-worn rhetoric. For examples of past NLF articles, visit our website.

Editorial guidelines:

Interested students should submit to Samantha[dot]Valente[at]cuny.edu by

December 21, 2018:

  • An original essay between 1,500 to 2,000 words,
  • Short author bio
  • Submissions must be double-spaced and in 12-point Times New Roman font.
  • Please spell out full titles and put acronyms in parentheses at their first use, including commonly used union acronyms.
  • Where endnotes (please do not use footnotes or references) are necessary, please refer to the Chicago Manual of Style.

The winning essay will be published in the May 2019 issue of New Labor Forum and will be featured on the NLF website. The winner will also receive a one-year subscription to New Labor Forum.

The winning author will be notified by March 8, 2019. The winning essay will be judged by the journal editors. All decisions made by the judges regarding the winners will be final.

For more information, please contact newlabo[at]slu[dot]cuny[dot]edu