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Precarious Solidarity – Labor and The Environmental Movement

This post was written by Penny Lewis, an Assistant Professor of Labor Studies at The Murphy Institute

For the second time in two weeks the New York Times has devoted its lead news story to reports about our unfolding environmental cataclysm.  Last week’s lead brought home the fact that climate change is happening now, covering reports that track contemporary shifts in temperature and rainfall across the United States.  Yesterday’s story, far removed from our borders, is even more disturbing: the western ice sheet of Antarctica is fatally compromised, and the oceans will rise at least 4 feet this century from this alone. Quite possibly they will rise much more, and most certainly much more – 10-12 feet – in the following period.

If you’re like me, you read these stories with a churning set of feelings: powerlessness, frustration that approaches rage, a sense of profound loss. And you might also find yourself revisiting the same question: how can we engage this central problem of our time?

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Catherwood Library Takes on the Books that Shaped Work in America

The following post was co-authored by Aliqae Geraci, a Murphy Institute Labor Studies Masters Alum and now a research librarian at the Martin P. Catherwood Library, part of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University; and Jessica Withers, a library communications and development assistant. The articled was originally posted on the U.S. Department of Labor Blog. 

As staff of Catherwood Library, one of the few dedicated labor relations libraries in U.S., we are always looking out for innovative ways to join and facilitate conversations about work and labor. As avid readers of the Labor Department’s blog and newsletter, we were thrilled to learn about the list of Books that Shaped Work in America − an initiative of the department and the Library of Congress Center for the Book − and knew immediately that we wanted to be part of the project. It was a moment for us to reiterate our commitment to collecting and preserving the literature and research of labor and the workplace. Our main reading room display was the perfect setting to showcase many books on the list during the spring 2014 semester. Jessica Withers designed the display, creating placards echoing the design of the Books that Shaped Work in America initiative and pulling content from our collection of over 200,000 items. Catherwood owns about half the 100 titles originally selected for the list, and many more are scattered across the numerous libraries at Cornell University. We were able to show the depth and breadth of Catherwood holdings, including a 1974 first edition of Studs Terkel’s “Working” and the graphic adaptation illustrated by Harvey Pekar.

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The Murphy Institute’s free College Prep Program is now accepting applications

The Murphy Institute College Prep Program is now accepting applications from union members and working adults who would like to take college prep classes. These classes are designed to help prepare adults for the CUNY admissions tests. Classes are offered in math and reading/writing in the afternoon and the evening. These tuition-free classes meet twice a week. The early application deadline for the fall semester is June 23rd. Please contact Abraham Marcus by email (abraham.marcus[at]mail.cuny[dot]edu) or phone (212-642-2040) if you are interested in applying.

Executive Director of PHENOM

PHENOM is a grassroots organization of public college and university students, staff, faculty, alumni, and parents fighting for an accessible, affordable, well-funded public higher education system that benefits every resident of Massachusetts. Our ultimate vision is of a public higher education system that is free to all. Through grassroots organizing, intensive coalition building, and targeted legislative action, PHENOM has begun to change the public discourse and win concrete victories. PHENOM connects its work on day-to-day issues related to costs, staffing, and funding to larger social issues (taxation, privatization, rule of the 1%). For more about PHENOM’s principles and beliefs, see http://phenomonline.org/about-phenom/guiding-principles/

The Executive Director will have overall strategic and operational responsibility for PHENOM’s staff, programs, expansion, and execution of its mission. The Executive Director will report directly to the PHENOM Board of Directors. This is a full-time, partially benefitted position.

The Executive Director may play a role in every aspect of PHENOM’s work, but the three main components of the position are:

a) Leadership & Management:
● Oversee PHENOM’s fundraising, communications, organizing and administration
● Work closely with the Board to set priorities, timelines and allocate resources needed to achieve strategic goals
● Actively engage and energize PHENOM staff, volunteers, interns, Board members, committees, partnering organizations, and funders
● Regularly evaluate program components, so as to measure successes that can be effectively communicated to the board, funders, and other stakeholders
● Supervise, oversee and regularly evaluate all staff and interns

b) Organizing:
● Supervise the building and maintenance of PHENOM chapters on campuses and in communities across Massachusetts
● Oversee and support PHENOM’s coalition efforts
● Provide training, mentoring and support to other staff, Board members, interns, and volunteers in order to expand the number and capacity of people committed to PHENOM. Develop new activists to become organizers and leaders in the organization.
● Develop, maintain and expand relationships with organizations and individuals in order to expand PHENOM’s capacity to win concrete campaigns and influence policy.

c) Finances & Communications:
● Develop relationships to create new funding opportunities
● Ensure sufficient fundraising via grants and organizational and individual donations to
increase PHENOM’s annual operating budget
● Prepare and monitor budget; ensure adherence to reporting requirements related to
PHENOM’s non-profit charity status
● Oversee and manage all aspects of communications (web page, newsletter, social
media, etc.)

The Executive Director must be thoroughly committed to PHENOM’s mission. All candidates should have proven leadership, organizing, and relationship management experience; strong
written and verbal communication and interpersonal skills; and passion, integrity, and selfdirectedness. The successful candidate must make at least a 2-year commitment to the position.
The ideal candidate will have the following qualifications:

● Bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience in the field of higher education
● Several years of organizing experience (paid or unpaid) with a demonstrated ability to mobilize communities to win campaigns and develop activists into leaders.
● A demonstrated ability to engage and develop relationships with a diverse population of stakeholders
● Successful fundraising experience, preferably for non-profit advocacy organizations
● Ability to effectively lead a non-profit organization, supervise staff, set and achieve strategic objectives, and manage a budget
● Demonstrated success organizing students and/or youth
● Past experience working with a board
Fluency in a second language commonly spoken in Massachusetts (i.e. Spanish, Portuguese, French, or Chinese) a plus

Salary and Benefits

Total compensation will start at $45,000 – $60,000, commensurate with experience. Total compensation will be divided between salary and benefits as best suits the successful candidate.
Applications should be submitted by June 4, 2014 for priority consideration.

To apply, please send a cover letter, resume and names/contact information of 3 references to massphenom@gmail.com or by US mail to PHENOM, PO Box 2281, Amherst, MA 01004. Please contact Ferd Wulkan at 413-627-5268 or ferdwulkan@gmail.com with any questions.

PHENOM is an equal opportunity employer. All persons regardless of age, race, ethnicity, gender, sex, religious affiliation, or sexual orientation are encouraged to apply. Women, people of color, and LGBTQ people are strongly encouraged to apply.

Starting date is flexible.


Kopkind 2014 Call for Participants
Kopkind, the magical retreat in Southern Vermont for media makers and activists is headed for its 16th summer, and is calling for people who are interested in attending to send letters of intent. The political camp for journalists and activists will be held from July 12 through 20. Letters of intent must be emailed to jwyp@earthlink.net by Saturday, June 14.