Category Archives: Home

css.php

New Labor Forum Highlights: November 2019

The New Labor Forum has a monthly 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.

Two historically important strikes came to a close last week, as 49,000 GM workers returned to work after the longest national work stoppage against the automaker in half a century; and 25,000 teachers and 7,500 school employees headed back to Chicago schools after landmark gains in negotiations with the city. Part of a rising tide of victorious strikes during the past two years, these workplace actions represent advancements worth noting in both public and private sector bargaining.

With $8.1 billion in earnings at GM in 2018 and $1.5 million in annual salary going to chief executive Mary Barra, UAW members were hell-bent on sharing in the company’s reversal of fortune since the Great Recession. A primary bargaining concern for workers was to raise the abysmal wages at the low end of their multi-tier contract, which included both temporary workers and “in progression workers” hired after 2007. A hallmark divide and conquer tool of management, multi-tier wage scales sell out the unborn by establishing lower wages and benefits for new hires, thus undermining worker solidarity and, in effect, giving employers reason to target older, more expensive workers. Undoing a multi-tier contract, which is precisely what UAW members managed to do, requires a heightened level of worker solidarity, given the need to direct contract gains toward workers on the lower end, in this case roughly 37% of the GM workforce. This sort of egalitarianism, heightened solidarity, and militancy in the private sector, the core of our economy, bodes well for a labor movement struggling to revive itself.

The Chicago Teachers Union − a leader in experimentation with a promising new strategy called Bargaining for the Common Good − won major concessions last week from the city in the form of contract language that went well beyond traditional negotiations over wages and benefits. Putting the demands of their community-based allies on the bargaining table, the union won lower class sizes and guarantees that every school will employ a nurse and social worker, as well as 120 new counselors, restorative justice coordinators and librarians in the highest-need schools, and improved staffing in bilingual and special education. These demands, including an unmet bargaining demand for affordable housing, make the union an increasingly powerful voice in policy-level concerns that impact educational outcomes. The strategic advance of Bargaining for the Common Good in the public sector presents a dramatic advance in joining the interests of worker and tax-payers in securing well-funded, equitable, high quality public services. The CTU strike, joined by SEIU Local 73, points the way in that direction.

With this installment of the newsletter, we offer a New Labor Forum article by Jobs with Justice Executive Director Erica Smiley that assesses organized labor’s growing militancy and innovation during the last year. We also bring to your attention to new publication from Labor Notes , “How to Strike and Win ,” which seeks to encourage and inform the rising tide of strikes by providing analysis and resources for unions and workers contemplating how, why and when to use the strike weapon.

Table of Contents

  1. Crisis, Creativity, and a Labor Movement Revival /  Erica Smiley, New Labor Forum
  2. How to Strike and Win/ Labor Notes, November 2019 Issue

Photo by Charles Edward Miller via flickr (cc-by-sa)

Introducing: City Works

City Works is a NEW monthly news magazine program produced by the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies (SLU) in collaboration with CUNY TV and hosted by Laura Flanders. The show’s mission is to create is a visual and thematic presentation of work, workers and worker organizations, employing topical examinations of the changing nature of work, tributes to unsung heroes, and analysis of the enduring challenges faced by workers. The show will spotlight the vast array of occupations of working people across New York City, and explore individual and collective efforts to make a better life for workers and a more prosperous and equitable society.

The first episode features an interview with former New York Times labor reporter Steven Greenhouse, a field report on the gig economy, and on-the job profiles of a nail salon worker and one of New York City’s remaining blacksmiths. It also has a “Culture at Work” segment highlighting subway musicians.

City Works will appear the first Monday of every month at 8 PM.

 

Spotlight on Staff: Congratulations to Isaac Rodriguez of LEAP to Teacher

By Becky Firesheets

Lehman College’s new LEAP to Teacher Coordinator Isaac Rodriguez is certainly not new to SLU. After two years as the Writing and Research Consultant for the Murphy Institute at Queens College, Isaac is thrilled for this opportunity to step up – and not just because his commute is shorter now.

“I love it so far,” he said of his new role. “It’s much easier to get to. But the advocacy part of the job is most alluring for me. We serve the adult learner; we serve the worker.”

For the uninitiated, LEAP to Teacher (LTT) is a specialized set of support services for UFT paraprofessionals pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in any field of study, offered at five CUNY campuses across all of New York City’s boroughs. Managed by Worker Education at SLU, this program serves nearly 600 students per year and is currently in the process of expanding to BMCC. Continue reading Spotlight on Staff: Congratulations to Isaac Rodriguez of LEAP to Teacher

New Labor Forum Highlights: October 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.

Over a half-century ago, in a farewell address to the nation, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned citizens to “guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence . . . by the military-industrial complex.” Eisenhower’s admonition of “the disastrous rise of misplaced power” implicit in the burgeoning Cold War arms build-up would soon come to seem radical. And for decades hence, the words “military-industrial complex,” were seldom uttered by office holders or candidates in either the Republican or Democratic Party. Continue reading New Labor Forum Highlights: October 7th, 2019

Advancing Workers’ Rights in the Workforce Development Community

By Becky Firesheets

Sara Esfarayeni, Joanne Mason, and Becky Firesheets recently represented SLU at “Designing a System for the Future of Workers,” the New York City Employment & Training Coalition’s workforce development conference held Monday, September 23rd at the CUNY Graduate Center. The sold-out event featured panels and presentations with various CBOs, educational institutions, and local and city government, focusing on topics such as the role of public policy, utilizing big data, building apprenticeship programs, and how to more effectively support immigrants, women, and people of color in entering and advancing through the workplace. Continue reading Advancing Workers’ Rights in the Workforce Development Community

Event: The Green New Deal, Net-Zero Carbon, & The Crucial Role of Public Ownership (9/28)

Date: Sat, September 28, 2019
Time: 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM EDT
Location: CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies, 25 West 43rd Street, 18th Floor, NYC

REGISTER HERE

Description

This conference has two main goals. The first goal is to show how both public ownership and a public goods approach is critical to achieving “zero carbon” and the other core objectives of the Green New Deal. The second goal is to make visible key struggles around ownership and control—including anti-privatization fights—that are taking place around the world , and how these struggles are leading to a “new internationalism” that puts both class and climate at the center of progressive politics.

Context: Climate Policy Failures and the Need for Radical Alternatives

Calls for a Green New Deal in the US have resonated around the world. Driven by concerns about climate crisis, the GND has also become a rallying cry for those who seek radical and urgent action to combat rising levels of inequality, racial injustice, as well as the rise of corporate power.

The GND has also endorsed the “net-zero carbon” target articulated in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, and governments at national, state and municipal levels (including New York State and New York City) have adopted similarly ambitious climate goals.

But according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), effective action on climate change “would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” within a dozen years or less. Establishing targets, while important, are clearly not enough. Meanwhile, neoliberal policies aimed at “mobilizing private investment” in order to promote “green growth” have shown themselves to be completely incapable of even slowing the rise of emissions. These same policies have increased inequality, injustice, and precariousness all over the world.

The need for a radical change in policy is today indisputable. This realization has sparked a growing movement of unions and other allies that see the need to extend public ownership and democratic control over key economic sectors—such as energy, finance, and transportation—in order to ensure that the world has a fighting chance of addressing the climate emergency in ways that advance social and economic justice and equality.

Participants and Partners

We will be joined by unions and policy allies from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Korea, Mexico, Philippines, South Africa, Uruguay, and the UK.

The meeting is being organized in partnership with: National Nurses United (NNU); New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA); United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America (UE); Canadian Union of Public Employees; National Union of Public and General Employees (Canada);Transnational Institute; The Democracy Collaborative; Science for the People; DSA’s Ecosocialist Working Group; #NationalizeGrid; Our Public Power (New York)New York Communities for Change.

Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. The program will start at 9:00 a.m. and end by 5:00 p.m. Full program and speakers to be announced.