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!

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)

Elements of the Democratic Economy

For the sake of our communities and our environment, our economy will need to transform. But how? The language of “economic democracy” points us in a direction, but in order to make concrete advances and replicate successes, we need to be clear about just what a democratic economy consists of.  A new resource from The Next System Project can help guide the way:

Traditional policies and approaches are demonstrably failing to alter deteriorating long-run trends on income inequality, concentrated wealth, community divestment and displacement, persistent place- and race-based poverty, and environmental destruction. As a consequence, we have witnessed in recent years an explosion of interest in and practical experimentation with a variety of alternative economic institutions and models of ownership—from worker cooperatives and community land trusts to public banking and community development financial institutions—that are capable of fundamentally altering patterns of ownership and producing dramatically better distributional and other outcomes as a matter of course.  New hybrid forms are emerging, as well as ideas as to how innovative combinations might produce still more powerful results.  Taken as a whole, these institutions and approaches form the mosaic of a new democratic economy in the making, suggesting the contours of a next system beyond corporate capitalism and some pathways for getting there.  

Elements of the democratic economy distills this landscape of theoretical exploration and real-world practice into concise summaries describing each of the institutions involved, assessing their transformative characteristics and potential impact, and providing on-the-ground examples and a sense of the challenges yet to be overcome. The series is intended as an entry point for all those looking to understand the various building blocks of the democratic economy currently being constructed from the ground up in communities across our nation and around the world.

Explore sections on community land trusts, democratic energy utilities, resident-owned communities, limited equity housing cooperatives, and green banks. Check it out here.

Taking Back the Wheel: On Labor’s Future

How do we understand the future of labor? Will it be one of total automation and increasingly precarious workers? Perhaps if Uber has anything to say about it. SLU’s Kafui Attoh has co-authored an article with Declan Cullen and Kathryn Wells in Dissent that tackles some of these thorny questions called “Taking Back the Wheel.” Here’s an excerpt:

Uber argues that its biggest boon to “driver partners” is to present them with independence, flexibility, and more-than-competitive compensation. In this argument the on-demand economy ushers in a bright new future and an ostensibly new labor category: the flexible worker. In a twist on Marx’s utopian dream, such a worker can, Frank Pasquale pithily comments, “knit Etsy scarves in the morning, drive Uber cars in the afternoon, and write Facebook comments at night, flexibly shifting between jobs and leisure at will.”

Of course, the neoliberal utopia of a sharing economy operated by highly contingent workers has been shaken by a multitude of analyses telling a markedly different story. These studies, including ours, emphasize precaritysurveillancecontrollow earnings, and insecure conditions. If the Uber model is the future of work, they tell us, that future looks bleak.

Behind all these debates lurks a deeper premise: that the future of work is actually no work at all. 

But according to Attoh and his co-authors, that future isn’t inevitable:

We should resist this logic of inevitability and see platform capitalism for what it is: a means to mobilize a reserve labor army, overcome barriers to accumulation, and fight declining rates of profit. We are not yet on the road to Uberworld. There’s still time for us to wrest back control, not just of the future, but also of the present.

How might we do that? Read the article here for an accounting of the stakes and possibilities — and learn why Uber is less in control of the future than we might be made to think.

Photo by Maurizio Pesce via flickr (CC-BY)

Debating the Merits of a Job Guarantee

By Steven Attewell

This Labor Day, many people no doubt gave thanks for the low unemployment rate (while perhaps bemoaning wages that aren’t keeping up with inflation). Yet at the same time, at many Democratic Party Labor Day BBQs, presidential candidates and other elected and activists touted proposals for a job guarantee to ensure full employment.

What explains this seeming contradiction? Part of it is that low unemployment doesn’t seem to be resulting in the wage gains that it used to. Part of it is that progressives want to be prepared for the next recession, so that we don’t have to wait years and years for full recovery. Part of it is that progressives want some way to appeal to working class white voters without throwing people of color under the bus.

This sudden flood of proposals on job guarantees has provoked a lively discussion on the merits of these proposals. One of the common refrains in this debate is a skepticism about whether the Federal government could employ so many people so soon. Continue reading Debating the Merits of a Job Guarantee

A conversation about workers, communities and social justice

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