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: 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

New Labor Forum Highlights, Labor Day Edition

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.

New Labor Forum’s September 2018 print issue is rolling off the press now. It contains as good a reason as there is to subscribe now:  thoughtful analysis and lucid writing on a wide range of issues vital to anyone who cares about the prospects of workers and working-class communities in the U.S. and throughout the world. Articles in the new issue: assess the options available to blue collar women and female care workers seeking to combat sexual harassment; ask if there is a deep state and what interests it serves; argue that the labor of Palestinians in building the Israeli nation magnifies their claim for full citizenship rights; and trace the remarkable rise of Jeremy Corbyn, once a marginal figure, held in contempt by UK Labour Party elites, now leader of the party and with a chance to lead the country.

On this Labor Day, we highlight two proposals to organized labor. In the first, Larry Cohen argues for a new national system of collective bargaining, modeled on the sectoral bargaining that sets industry-wide wages and working conditions for workers from Norway to South Africa. Moshe Marvit and Shaun Richman make the case for new “Right to Your Job” legislation that would end our “at will” employment regime and force employers to prove that terminations are related to work-performance. Because this legislation stands a fair chance of passing in a number of municipal and state legislatures, Marvit and Richman insists it should become a policy priority for organized labor and its allies.

And we announce that the CUNY Board of Trustees has voted to establish the Murphy Institute, publisher of New Labor Forum, as the new CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies. The School’s inaugural round of fall public programming, begins with a public forum on September 14th, entitled A Failing Marriage: Democracy & Capitalism.


Table of Contents

  1. The Time Has Come for Sectoral Bargaining/ Larry Cohen, New Labor Forum
  2. The Case for “A Right to Your Job” Campaign/ Moshe Marvit and Shaun Richman, New Labor Forum
  3. Save the Date-Is A Democratic Capitalism Possible?/ Murphy Institute, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies

Photo by Garry Knight via flickr

New Labor Forum Highlights, June 25th, 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.

The future of public sector unions in the U.S. hangs in the balance, awaiting the Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision due this week, even as soon as tomorrow. This case will decide whether public sector workers in a workplace represented by a union and benefiting from a collective bargaining agreement negotiated by that union will have to continue paying an “agency fee” to the union for the work it does on their behalf. With a public sector unionization rate five times that of the private sector rate, the expected ruling against the American Federation of State, County, & Municipal Employees threatens to undermine what has been a redoubt of union strength, heightening the need for bold new ideas to rebuild the labor movement.  That is what we offer here.

We begin with a provocative think-piece (due out in our September 2018 print issue) by Larry Cohen, Board Chair of Our Revolution, the successor organization to Bernie 2016, and past President of the Communications Workers of America. Cohen argues that the future of enterprise-based collective bargaining in the U.S. is bleak, and that now’s the time to move to a sectoral bargaining system, which protects industry-wide wages and conditions of employment for workers in many other countries, from South Africa to Norway. He discusses why organized labor and progressive democrats should make universal, sectoral bargaining a top demand and why it will make other victories possible.

Next we offer a strategic proposal by Luke Elliott-Negri and Marc Kagan for what may be a new opportunity to organize the tens of thousands of public sector adjuncts in New York State in the post Janus environment. This chance for organizing results from a recent law unions managed to pass in New York, intending to blunt the expected blow of the Janus decision. Unions in states like California have made similar legislative inroads that may also offer similar promising options for organizing.

Chris Brooks weighs in on the question of whether unionists should press for a “members only” brand of unionism made more likely in the wake of the anticipated Janus decision. Examining a 2011 Tennessee law targeting teachers’ unions, Brooks cautions against embracing “members only” trade unionism and the resulting competition among unions that may vie to represent workers in the same bargaining unit. He argues that inter-union competition, which has long been promoted by strategists on the right and some on the left, more often benefits employers than workers.

With this newsletter, we take a hiatus for the summer season, returning on Labor Day. In parting, we leave you with a wildly imaginative, searing poem by Alberto Rios, Arizona’s first state poet laureate. In it, he contemplates the very nature of a border, giving us all something to ponder as we respond to the fact of the thousands of children at our border, incarcerated and separated from their parents into the unknowable future.


Table of Contents

  1. The Time Has Come for Sectoral Bargaining/ Larry Cohen, New Labor Forum
  2. An Odd Twist: Might a Response to Janus Make Adjunct Organizing Easier in New York State?/ Luke Elliott-Negri and Marc Kagan, New Labor Forum
  3. The Cure is Worse than the Disease/ Chris Brooks, New Labor Forum
  4. The Border a Double Sonnet/ Alberto Rios, New Labor Forum

Photo by Richard Gillin via flickr (CC-BY-SA)