Category Archives: Labor Studies

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.

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.

Event: The Next Generation: Young Workers Building Movements (12/6)

Thursday, December 6th, 2018
6pm – 8pm ET
CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies
25 W. 43rd Street, 18th Floor, New York, NY 10036

RSVP HERE

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. Continue reading Event: The Next Generation: Young Workers Building Movements (12/6)

What’s the Deal with Tariffs?

When the president starts talking trade protectionism, it can be hard to know how to evaluate his rhetoric. SLU professor Stephanie Luce untangled some of the history and policy particulars of the thorny subject of tariffs for Organizing Upgrade:

Donald Trump voiced the real concerns of many Americans when he spoke of the need to bring jobs to communities and to end unfair trade deals. By blocking the Trans-Pacific Partnership, pushing a re-negotiation of NAFTA, and increasing tariffs on a range of imports, Trump has appeared to finally take seriously the needs of unemployed and underemployed workers. Some unions have been calling for tariffs for years, most notably the United Steelworkers. While Obama ran in 2008 on a promise to renegotiate NAFTA he never did so, and in fact became a relentless proponent of expanding “free trade.” Meanwhile, the Trump administration recently announced details of the draft deal with Mexico, and it appears to contain benefits for U.S. and Mexican workers.

So is Trump the worker’s hero? Will increased tariffs return jobs to the US? The left has been weak on this issue. On the one hand, we need to take economic development and job creation seriously. Workers are suffering. Even though official unemployment rates are low, more and more of the jobs people hold are low-wage, insecure, non-union, and dead-end. The left lacks a real program to address the real concerns of those impacted by trade deals. We need to better understand the history of tariffs and trade, and we need an international vision for economic development.

Read the article here.

Photo by M Cheung via flickr (cc)

Video: Energy from Unlikely Sources

On Friday, October 12th, members of the wider SLU community gathered to ask big questions about the future of the labor movement.

For more than a quarter century, workers and the U.S. labor movement have sustained significant setbacks, including the broad expansion of “right-to-work” conditions; the increasing use by employers of vehicles that enable them to shirk standard employer responsibilities; and the Supreme Court’s tendency to prioritize employers’ property rights over worker rights. Despite these trends, 61 percent of Americans view unions favorably; organizing and unionization among young workers is surging, with three-quarters of new union members in 2017 being under 35 years old; and 2018 saw the largest wildcat strikes in decades, with teacher walkouts in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Arizona challenging wage stagnation and school funding cutbacks. What does this imply about the possibilities and struggles ahead for labor? What are strategic options that would enable organized labor to succeed at mass organizing and to join forces with racial and economic justice organizations to become a movement?

It was a wide-ranging and probing conversation featuring Lauren Jacobs, Deputy Director, The Partnership for Working Families; Marilyn Sneiderman, Executive Director, Center for Innovation in Worker Organization, Rutgers University;
Larry Cohen, Chair, Board of Directors, Our Revolution, former president of Communications Workers of America (CWA); Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director, ALIGN NY; and SLU’s own Penny Lewis.

Report Release: Results from the Human Services Workforce Study (10/11)

Thu, October 11, 2018
8:30 AM – 10:30 AM EDT
Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, 2180 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10035

RSVP HERE

The results are in! Join us on October 11, 2018 for the community roll-out of the Human Service Workforce Study, sponsored by the Human Services Council, Silberman School of Social Work, and the Touro College Graduate School of Social Work.

The Report, Business as Usual? A Wake-Up Call for The Human Services, reflects the experience of nearly 3,000 frontline NYC human services workers who assess how business principles and practices in their agencies affect service delivery and the values and mission of the social work profession. The important findings of this hot-off-the press study of NYC human services workplaces will be presented by the authors:

  • Mimi Abramovitz, DSW, Bertha Capen Reynolds Professor of Social Policy, Silberman School of Social Work, Hunter College, CUNY
  • Jennifer Zelnick, Sc.D, Professor of Social Work, Touro College Graduate School of Social Work

Three panelists will present their doctoral research–case studies based on their practice in child welfare, domestic violence, and substance abuse agencies. Their reports highlight how Abramovitz and Zelnick’s findings play out in specific human service settings.

PANELISTS

  • Jocelyn Lewiskin PhD, MSW LCSW, Psychotherapist in Private Practice, Former: Program Manager HIV and Substance Abuse Clinician, Center for Comprehensive Health Practice; PhD (2018) Social Welfare Doctoral Program, The Graduate Center, City University of New York
  • Deborah Mullin PhD, MS, LMSW, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Silberman School of Social Work. Hunter College, Former Director of Family Services at Community Training and Education (antipoverty organization) , Former Director of Non-Residential Services at Hope’s Door (DV agency); PhD (2017) PhD in Social Work. Graduate School of Social Services Fordham University
  • Rita Sanchez-Torres, PhD, MALS MPhil, Program Director Prevention Program, Good Shepherd Services; PhD (2018) Social Welfare Doctoral Program, The Graduate Center City University of New York

Click here to view all presenters’ bios.

Be part of a dialogue with your colleagues to explore the impact of these findings for your agencies, professional practice, and clients and consider fresh approaches to improving service delivery.

Photo by Anthony Quintano via flickr (CC-BY)