New Labor Forum Highlights: January 7th, 2019

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.

While reports on the political implications of the current partial government shutdown continue to run on the front pages of major news outlets, less attention has been paid to the 800,000 workers who are going without a pay check. It’s been a decidedly unhappy holiday season for the roughly 400,000 furloughed workers and the approximately 400,000 essential workers forced to keep working without compensation. These workers and their union, the American Federation of Government Employees, are prohibited under federal law from striking or even from bargaining over wages. The union has opted to file a lawsuit against the government alleging that the act of forcing employees deemed essential to work without pay is a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. And, in the meantime, many of those workers have decided to take matters into their own hands in the form of a sickout. As it turns out, Transportation Security Officers (TSA), who get us all through airport security checkpoints on starting salaries that run as low as $25,000 to $30,000 per year, have had enough. Beginning yesterday, the TSA sickout appears to be making a real impact on wait times at airports from New York to Salt Lake City. This may be the beginning of an upsurge of greater militancy among federal workers. We include here a number of articles and a video that explore this vital aspect of the current government shutdown.
Table of Contents: 
  1. How Federal Workers Could Fight the Shutdown/ Ben Beckett and Ryan Haney, Jacobin
  2. Airport Security Lines Grow Across the Nation As TSA Sickout Continues/ Grant Martin, Forbes
  3. Union leader discusses lawsuit against President Trump over shutdown/ The Hill
  4. All 20 previous government shutdowns, explained/ Dylan Matthews, Vox

Continue reading New Labor Forum Highlights: January 7th, 2019

On Equity in Our Workforce

By Rebecca Lurie

As I read the latest paper by Steve Dawson on workforce, once again I am grateful for the principles and practices he describes so well. (And succinctly! So if you have time to read a one-pager, do it! And don’t bother to read my post!)

Dawson’s paper, “Class Dismissed Defining Equity in our Workforce Field” suggests we look deeper into meaningful work and consider, when we train and prepare for jobs, that we also train and prepare for the broader world of work. Exposing trainees to organizing, policy, advocacy and cooperative business skills all as means to improve lives even when job placement options are not great.

The full series can be found here. I highly recommend it for those aiming to do more than good work through workforce development, but for those who want to use the opportunity when engaged in workforce training to help raise the bar, and advocate for better jobs and better work in a world that demands us to make ready ourselves, our young, our disenfranchised, for work that will improve conditions through a wide range of strategies and approaches.

New Labor Forum Highlights: Dec. 19th, 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.

In this holiday season, if you’ve resisted online shopping through Amazon, you’re in the diminishing minority. More than half of all online retail searches presently begin with Amazon, and the company now takes in fully half of all web-based consumer purchases made in the United States. It therefore behooves us to reckon with the behemoth’s gravitational pull on our economy, and indeed on the global economy. An impressive report by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), included in this newsletter, goes a long way toward measuring Amazon’s impact on local economies in the form of shuttered businesses, net job losses, low wages for its warehouse workers, and many millions of dollars of lost tax revenue owing to Amazon’s successful tax avoidance schemes.

As evidenced in the following news articles, Amazon’s global workforce is increasingly refusing to take it on the chin. Its workers in Europe and the U.S. are engaging in traditional labor organizing, as well as organizing intended to protest the company’s business model and its inroads into dubious ventures, as in the development of facial recognition technology for law enforcement. In 2019, New Labor Forum will be publishing a number of articles that examine the ways in which Amazon and other Silicon Valley giants have altered the functioning of capitalism in the twenty-first century, thereby presenting new challenges and opportunities for worker and political organizing. So, if you haven’t already subscribed, please do so now and see below for a special holiday gift.

Table of Contents: 
  1. Amazon’s Stranglehold: How the Company’s Tightening Grip Is Stifling Competition, Eroding Jobs, and Threatening Communities/ Olivia LaVecchia and Stacy Mitchell, Institute For Local Self-Reliance
  2. Hundreds March on Amazon Fulfillment Center in Minnesota/ Bryan Menegus, Portside Labor 
  3. German union calls strike at Amazon warehouse/ Emma Thomasson, Reuters  

Photo by thisisbossi via flickr (CC-BY-SA)

Spring 2019 MA Scholarship Application Now Open (Deadline: 12/18)

The Murphy Institute is offering a small number of tuition-only scholarships for Spring 2019 to both newly-admitted and continuing MA students in Urban Studies and Labor Studies. Students must re-apply each semester to be considered for a scholarship for the next term. (Scholarships and amounts may vary from semester to semester depending on the availability of funds and/or enrollment status.)

Applications are open until 11:59pm on July 12th, 2018. Learn more and apply here.

Video: The Next Generation: Young Workers Building Movements

On December 6th, members of SLU community gathered to discuss the challenges and opportunities faced by young adults in building the labor movement.

Despite the recent weakness of the U.S. labor movement, young workers are invigorating unions and other working-class organizations throughout the country, showing the promise of a new broad-based progressive movement. Social media-driven movements like #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter, along with the emergence of left political organizations and young candidates for local and national office, have also played an important role in sparking new organizing among younger workers. At the same time, student debt is skyrocketing, permanent full-time jobs are harder to find, unemployment and underemployment are prevalent among low-income young people and communities of color, and increases in housing/living costs far surpass increases in real wages for many young workers.

How are young adults building the labor movement in the face of worsening conditions? How are young workers in other movements influencing the political landscape? Are there fundamental differences in young workers’ outlook or analysis compared to previous generations? What are the primary challenges and obstacles they face given the changing economy and its more precarious job opportunities? What are the most exciting opportunities and partnerships that are being developed by young workers?

The conversation featured Arsenia Reilly-Collins, Jedidiah Labinjo, and Kim Kelly, and was moderated by Diana Robinson.

Check out the video above or here.

A conversation about workers, communities and social justice

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