Category Archives: Media

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Prof. Stephanie Luce in Labor Notes: “It Didn’t Have to Be Like This”

Here we are: the economy has been shut down, resulting in massive job loss to some and unsafe working conditions for others. This, writes SLU professor Stephanie Luce in Labor Notes, was the result of a horrible decision — lock ourselves down, or put tens of millions of people at risk.

But, she writes, “It didn’t have to be like this.”

We could not have prevented the virus itself, nor the resulting loss of life altogether. But imagine if:

    • Instead of cutting public health budgets and access to health care for decades, we had expanded it by enacting a single-payer health care system—an improved Medicare for All.
    • We had community health centers that did low-cost preventive care, giving people the education and resources to stay healthy to begin with and making a much smaller share of the population at risk for dangerous disease.
    • We had paid sick days for all workers so they didn’t have to come to work when they had symptoms.
    • We had strong unions, high minimum wages, and good benefits, so very few people were poor. Workers would not feel so desperate to work even when sick or in danger, and they could afford basic necessities to keep them healthier year-round.
    • We had a public health philosophy of “an injury to one is an injury to all.” Governments would be ready to step in with testing programs, resources for people in quarantine, and fair access for all to treatment and vaccines.
    • We taxed the rich and corporations and used that money for the public good and building a strong economy. Our economy would be better equipped to sustain shocks.
    • We valued science and scientists, and invested in their research on issues for the public good.
    • We valued international connections and relationships, encouraging cooperation and collaboration on research, education, and treatment across borders, rather than demonizing or punishing entire nations.

Prof. Luce goes on to describe the ways in which, by moving away from the logic of privatization and crony capitalism, we can imagine a different pathway forward. And she starts with history:

Countries have often been forced to implement bold policies during a crisis, whether the Great Depression of the 1930s, wartime, or coming out of war. It was after World War II that many other countries established their national health care systems and their generous safety net programs, on the understanding that any society is only as strong as its weakest member and that collective programs are good for the economy.

The federal government has the ability to take on public debt to pay for big programs. This happened in 2008 when the government came up with $891 billion to bail out the financial system, with almost no strings attached. This is basically an investment in the future: borrowing money from the future to pay for necessary steps now. The economist JW Mason makes a strong case for funding the Green New Deal this way.

According to Luce, there’s yet more we could do via taxes and reduced military spending, all in service of “an economy centered on human need rather than corporate profit.”

Read the full piece at Labor Notes.

City Works: Randi Weingarten & Teachers Strike with Stacy Davis Gates

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.

On this month’s show…

  • Randi Weingarten; Chicago Teachers Union Vice President
  • Stacy Davis Gates on the strikes of 2019 and what comes next.

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.

 

SLU Prof. Kafui Attoh on WNYC’s On the Media

Last week, SLU Urban Studies Professor Kafui Attoh made an appearance on WNYC’s On the Media to talk about the relationship between public transportation and democracy, closing out an hour that explores the injustices that undergird “feel good” stories about workers persevering through horrifying commutes and the perils of self-driving cars. From On the Media:

The lion’s share of our transit-oriented program this week has centered on the personal car and its infrastructure. This is no accident. The car speeds, stalls, thrills and kills us — all because we need a ride. But what if we’d really rather journey by bus? 

Brooke spoke with Kafui Attoh, professor of urban studies at the CUNY Graduate Center, about the deep political connotations of “transit rights.” Such rights, Attoh argues in his forthcoming book Rights in Transit, have roots in Marx, Engels and Lefebvre’s thinking on the radical nature of cities

Listen to the whole hour here or check out Prof. Attoh’s segment here.

Photo by Sergio SC via flickr (CC-BY-SA)

Profs. Steve Brier and Michael Fabricant Talk Austerity Blues on WNYC

If you missed our forum last Friday on the history and impact of austerity and neoliberal policies on public higher education, you can still listen to an interview on WNYC with two of our panelists: Murphy Institute consortial faculty member Prof. Steve Brier and co-author Prof. Michael Fabricant of the CUNY Graduate Center and Vice President of CUNY’s Professional Staff Congress. They speak about their recently published work, Austerity Blues: Fighting for the Soul of Public Higher Education.

Listen here.

Photo by chadinbr via flickr (CC-BY)

Al Jazeera on Unionization, Pay Discrimination

The latest report from Murphy Professors Ruth Milkman and Stephanie Luce, The State of the Unions: A Profile of Organized Labor in New York City, New York State, and the United States, continues to gain coverage, this time over at Al Jazeera. In an article by Murphy alum Ned Resnikoff (Unionization found to reduce pay discrimination, Al Jazeera, 9/7/15), the writer outlines some findings from the report:

The earnings gap between black and nonblack workers is smaller among union members than among members of the labor force as a whole, according to a report issued Friday from the City University of New York’s Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies.

The report found that unionized black workers make a median $21.62 per hour, roughly 10 percent less than unionized nonblack workers’ $24.04 hourly wage. Nonunion black workers earned a median $13.65 per hour, compared with nonunion nonblack workers’ $17.00 — a nearly 20 percent pay disadvantage. Continue reading Al Jazeera on Unionization, Pay Discrimination