Labor Studies offers graduate degree and certificate programs that examine the opportunities and challenges facing workers and their organizations. The program builds critical thinking, analytical, and leadership skills so that students become more effective advocates for workers’ rights and social justice. Learn more here.
On Monday, MA students in Labor Studies presented their capstone projects on a wide array of subjects. Pictured above are, from left to right, Prof. Maria Figueroa, Rachel Feldman, Crystal Garcia, Mark Thornton, Natasha Yee, Robert Master, Norma Heyward & Mark Casner. Congratulations, students!
Mark Casner: Ageism in New York? Evaluating the Effectiveness of Anti-Discrimination Employment Policy
Rachel Feldman: Impact of Hospital Profits on Direct Care Workers: How Does Working for a Profitable, Private Hospital Impact Direct Care Workers in New York City?
Crystal Garcia: Sisters in the Trades: How Effective Are Current Diversity Policies to Increase Employment and Retention of Women in the NYC Construction Industry?
Norma Heyward: Homelessness in New York City: Assessing the Challenges and Solutions
Robert Master: Militancy and Memory:The 1971 New York Telephone Strike and its Legacy
Mark Thornton: What Happened in Wisconsin? Union Members and Political Choices in the 2016 Election Cycle
Natasha Yee: What can Diversity and Inclusion do for Unions?: A Look at the IBEW and EWMC
By Brian Fleurantin, M.A. in Urban Studies Program
For the past year, I’ve been working as a Care Manager at Housing Works. In that time, I’ve worked with various clients across New York City assisting them with finding housing, access benefits, etc. It’s rewarding, yet challenging work. Beyond the daily challenges of work, various conditions I and my coworkers have experienced led to us working with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union to form a union and walking off our jobs on October 29th.
Being there in that moment, speaking at the rally, and discussing work-related issues with my co-workers has been an eye-opening experience for me. I’ve gotten to see firsthand what my fellow coworkers have gone through and have used the things I’ve learned at SLU to work in solidarity with my colleagues to fix our work environments. It’s been difficult, especially with management reverting to classic union-busting tactics, but we as workers have been able to counteract their tactics and show the truth of what’s going on. It’s also been amazing to see the support we’ve gotten outside of the company, from Public Advocate Jumaane Williams all the way up to U.S. Senator and recent presidential candidate Kamala Harris. I feel very proud to be standing in solidarity with my co-workers and union workers across the country and around the world.
Click on these links to learn more about our walk-out:
How do you create a labor organizer? SLU’s Union Semester program is a good place to start. Just ask Brittany Anderson.
Brittany suspected early on that the American Dream wasn’t real for most working people. Raised in rural Minnesota by a single mom who worked multiple jobs, income inequality wasn’t a theoretical concept, it was a daily reality. So she decided to do something about it.
Brittany moved to New York City for college in 2008 and got involved with the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011. “I had no idea how huge the labor movement was, how powerful. It really opened my eyes,” she said. The young protester from the Midwest quickly found herself under the wing of seasoned union organizers, who recognized her passion and potential. They told her about the Union Semester program at CUNY’s Murphy Institute and in Spring 2014 she enrolled.
On Friday, November 15th, SLU hosted a Labor Forum on the future of labor rights. 135 people attended to hear how the labor movement can fight for workers’ rights and protections while the Trump administration continues to attempt to roll them back.
Featured speakers included:
Randi Weingarten — President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
Steven Greenhouse — Veteran New York Times labor journalist and author of the new book, Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor.
Vincent Alvarez – President of NYC Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO
Although union density is near an all-time low, labor activism has surged in many sectors. From adjunct faculty to video game developers, digital media workers, platform app drivers, and public school teachers, labor movement activism is growing in a number of key sectors. This is happening as many full-time jobs with benefits are disappearing, consumer/student debt is skyrocketing, the “gig economy” is expanding, and economic insecurity is increasing for American workers and families. Housing and child care costs – which heavily impact workers’ income, wealth, and health – have also become more burdensome for many families. Under President Trump, a number of worker rights and protections have been weakened or denied, including:
• No movement toward federal minimum wage increase
• Weak overtime protections for salaried workers
• Allowing employers to self-report wage violations and escape penalties • Siding with employers against rights of gay and transgender workers
• (Mis)classifying Uber drivers and others as independent contractors, denying them basic rights
• Continuing ‘Right-to-Work’ efforts kickstarted by Supreme Court’s Janus decision
• Restricting workers’ right to organize at franchised businesses like McDonald’s
• De-funding and weakening OSHA
What should be Democrats’ top policy priorities to strengthen all workers’ rights? What are the most significant gaps and weaknesses in protections for worker organizing and economic rights today? ‘Right-to-work’ laws? Legal constraints against strikes and other worker actions? Minimum wage? The growing numbers of workers who fall outside the protections of the NLRA? Lack of livable safety net benefits for displaced and underemployed workers? Lack of protections for flex/gig workers? What new policies would best promote stronger worker protections and greater economic justice?
Workers’ Studio: El Co-op is a series of collaborative art projects that use art as a tool for worker-led organizing. The Workers’ Studio is nomadic, and functions mostly in Day Laborers’ Worker Centers as a weekly encounter facilitated by artist (and 2019 SLU alumna) Sol Aramendi. Aramendi works on socially engaged art collaborations that are part of an evolving social sculpture integrating labor, immigration and art. Workers use the studio to create art projects that support their organizing and advocacy. The exhibition features a series of photographs, writing and works created by the participants.
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.
A conversation about workers, communities and social justice