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Murphy Report in NYTimes: Retail Workers and Unions

This week, the NYTimes ran a story by Rachel L. Swarns showing the stark differences in labor conditions for unionized vs non-unionized retail workers.  In an article that will come as no surprise to those who have been following labor struggles among retail workers, Swarns writes about the relatively stable labor conditions for workers at Macy’s in New York City’s Harold Square, explaining:

…these union workers savor something that is all too rare in the retail industry right now: guaranteed minimum hours — for part-time and full-time employees — and predictable schedules.

Unfortunately, as an upcoming report by Murphy Professor Stephanie Luce and the Retail Action Project shows, these benefits are accruing to only a fraction of the retail industry as a whole. Swarns writes that the researchers, “surveyed 236 retail workers in Manhattan and Brooklyn and found that only 40 percent had set minimum hours per week.”

For more on the state of unions and retail workers, and a look at some of the changes the retail industry is undergoing, read the full story.

Photo via NYTimes

Working Families Party Seeks Membership Engagement Coordinator

LOCATION (flexible)

Brooklyn, NY, Washington, DC, Hartford, CT, Philadelphia, PA, or Baltimore, MD


Working Families is a progressive independent political organization that fights for social, economic, and racial justice– and wins. Formed by labor unions, community organizations, and grassroots activists, our aim is to advance bold policy goals that support dignity and justice for working class communities and communities of color. Working Families combines issue advocacy campaigns with year-round electoral engagement to win ground breaking policies and elect strong progressive champions.


Working Families is searching for a visionary leader to create and direct a robust national program to build a mass base of small, medium, and high donors who identify with our brand, participate in our organization, and provide a backbone of funding to keep our organization self reliant, independent, and growing stronger every day. All the fundamentals are in place: we have a sizable, actively growing email list, a solid foundation of monthly contributors, and a track record of winning policies that challenge corporate power and improve the lives of working and middle class families.

To take us from good to great, we are seeking a Membership Engagement Coordinator with the skill, experience, and passion to create a much deeper and broader base of individual members who support our organization at a range of contribution levels. This person will work in a scrappy environment with immensely committed co-workers who will change the world or die trying. You’ll have the freedom to experiment with new ideas and creative solutions to complex problems. You’ll participate in exciting discussions that help shape the future of our organization. You’ll be part of the most exciting progressive political project happening in America today.

This is a temporary, full-time position with the high potential to be extended indefinitely for the right person.


● A passion and commitment to social, economic, and racial justice and a working knowledge of national/progressive politics
● Excellent written and verbal communications skills
● Background and familiarity with grassroots fundraising
● Knowledge of, or the ability to quickly learn, how to effectively use Salsa and Salesforce and an ability to manipulate data in excel effectively
● Minimum of two years prior experience in grassroots non-profit, labor, or a political organization
● Prior experience with project management or event planning preferred
● Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience


Please email a resume, cover letter, and three professional references to Sarah Johnson at sjohnson@workingfamilies.org with “Membership Engagement” in the subject line. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the position is filled.

The Working Families Party and the Working Families Organization are equal opportunity employers with a commitment to economic and social justice. Women, people of color, LGBTQ people, and members of other historically disenfranchised populations are strongly encouraged to apply.

Salary for this position is commensurate with the amount of relevant professional experience that a candidate possesses. A competitive benefits package includes health, dental, vision, and life insurances, a 401(k) retirement plan, paid holidays, and generous vacation and sick time. Opportunities for advancement, travel, and additional training are available.

Paid Family Leave Should Be Required

This article was originally posted on Times Union.

By Ed Ott and Nancy Rankin

As we head back to work after the Labor Day weekend, it’s a good time to reflect on how things are going for New York’s 9 million working people.

We’ve made some progress this year: the lowest-paid workers got the first installment of their raise, as the state minimum wage went to $8 an hour. Not nearly enough, and tipped workers are still owed their promised increase, but a start. The labor movement succeeded in achieving greater child care funding in the state budget. And over 1.2 million workers in New York City who did not have a single paid sick day before this year are now able to take sick leave without losing their wages or their jobs.

All of these will be good for New Yorkers and good for New York. When workers earn a decent living with sensible policies — like child care and sick days — they can take care of their families, pay their taxes and help grow our businesses.

But lawmakers left Albany before completing one important initiative: paid family leave. Continue reading Paid Family Leave Should Be Required

Community Organizing with WE ACT

Last fall, the Murphy Institute launched a B.A. in Urban and Community Studies. The program focuses on public policy, the delivery of services, and improving the quality of life for communities and working-class populations. Students in the program use methods and perspectives from sociology, economics, political science, history, and anthropology to analyze the conditions of cities, neighborhoods, and communities within a globalizing economy and culture. Our students have opportunities for experiential and applied learning, including fieldwork and workplace-based projects in New York City — our classroom.

Etinosa Emokpae is one of our students and had a chance this summer to intern at a community-based organization in Harlem that engages residents to address environmental justice/public health issues and find solutions. In this piece, she shares some of her impressions.

I’d like to recount my amazing experience in the Urban Studies Fieldwork seminar, which was co-taught by Professors James Steele and Eve Baron. The seminar allows students to intern at a public agency or community organization that fits their interests. Continue reading Community Organizing with WE ACT

The Labor Question

By Joshua Freeman

In a Labor Day op-ed article in the NY Daily News, I argued that even as unions have suffered a series of setbacks and continue to slip in the percentage of workers they represent, labor issues are more prominent now than at any time in the recent past. What we are seeing might be called the re-emergence of “the labor question.” (New York is somewhat exceptional because, as the Murphy Institute’s Ruth Milkman and Stephanie Luce show in a forthcoming study reported in The New York Times, union membership in the city has been rising significantly of late.)

“The labor question” was once a common term, widely used in the early 20th century. On the simplest level, it asked how orderly relations could be maintained between employers and employees, preventing the outbursts of labor strife that had become common in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Continue reading The Labor Question

New York State Nurses Association Administrative Assistant – Political & Community Organizing (Midtown West)

The New York State Nurses Association is a union of 37,000 frontline nurses standing together for strength at work, our practice, safe staffing, and healthcare for all. We are New York’s largest union and professional association for registered nurses.


This position reports to the Director of Political Affairs and Public Policy and will perform administrative functions as directed by the department Director and other staff in the Political and Community Organizing Department.


• Health care and/or political/lobbying experience a plus.
• Screen calls, take clear, concise messages, transfer calls as appropriate and take call backs as necessary in a proficient and professional manner.
• Compose letters for signature from verbal instruction or brief notes.
• Correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, paragraphing and organization of letters and reports to assure accuracy. Review outgoing correspondence for completeness.
• Assist in making travel arrangements for professional staff.
• Attend meetings to take minutes when requested. Type, proof and edit handwritten notes from meetings in a timely manner.
• Obtain appropriate approval of content and format of minutes.
• Copy and distribute draft minutes to meeting attendees.
• Circulate draft minutes to Association directors and executive staff.
• Assist in keeping an up-to-date schedule of the activities of the departmental staff.
• Arrange meetings for councils and committees.
• Maintain an organized and concise filing system in a timely fashion and remove unnecessary material according to departmental guidelines.
• Review and consults with Manager, Administrative Support Services, regarding mailings and other work in which assistance may be required for timely completion
• Maintain current knowledge of overall association office policies, procedures and practices affecting all program activities.
• Accurately type, answer and/or respond to various types of letters produced by departmental program staff.
• Confirming that all members are available for meetings (via memo or telephone) and sends them written notification of that schedule.
• Making arrangements in consultation with Conference Facility Manager for room, room set-up, audio-visual needs and refreshments.
• Meet with the Director, and other Associate or Area Directors as needed, to discuss work assignments, changes in priorities, problems and plans for improved secretarial effectiveness.
• Draft responses to routine requests to expedite replies as directed by departmental staff.
• Inform departmental staff of changes in schedule.
• Mailing appropriate paperwork to attendees prior to meetings as assigned.
• Sort, organize and prepare materials to be sent to archives in accordance with Association policy and procedure.
• Notifying attendees, staff, and meeting and catering coordinator of any changes in schedule.
• Assist program staff in preparing program related materials for the NYSNA Annual Convention.
• Relieve other administrative personnel as requested.
• Schedule time off in consultation with the department Director.
• Performs all other related activities which may be required in advancing the mission, purposes and interests of the department as assigned.


To apply, please submit a cover letter of interest and resume to employment<at>nysna<dot>org