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:
Spotlight on Students is a series in which we showcase the different pathways that students are taking through SLU. This is the first post in the series, featuring William Barron, a student in our Worker Education program at Queens College.
By Becky Firesheets
William Barron exudes passion, even over the phone. During our recent interview, Barron, a public school paraprofessional earning his bachelor’s degree at Queens College, would regularly become so enthusiastic that his sentences blurred together in one fast outburst of emotion. Yet his answers never felt off-topic or unfocused. On the contrary, his magnetic personality and fierce determination left me inspired and wanting to talk further, to see what life lessons I might be able to glean.
Barron’s CUNY story began at Kingsborough Community College where he earned an associate degree before planning to take a break from school in order to work. He decided last-minute to stop by a college fair and serendipitously met Francine Sanchez of The Murphy Institute for Worker Education at Queens College. Her advice was so compelling that he decided to keep going with his education. Continue reading Spotlight on Students: William Barron of Queens College
Each year, the Metro New York Labor Journalism Council gives out awards for student labor journalism. And this year, the winner for written article was SLU student Bailey Miller, who wrote about “body shops,” labor-leasing companies that exploit formerly incarcerated workers, and which are proliferating on construction sites throughout New York City. Her article is reproduced below. Congratulations, Bailey!
The Rise of Labor-Leasing Companies and the Exploitation of Formerly Incarcerated Workers in New York City
By Bailey Miller
Construction in New York City is booming, but beneath the glitter and shine of new buildings, a troubling trend has emerged. An expanding class of labor-leasing companies, known as “body shops”, is providing general contractors with workforces of formerly incarcerated people for exploitive construction sites across the five boroughs. Body shops pay barely minimum wage, offer no benefits like medical coverage, and provide minimal safety training for workers to erect scaffolds, clear debris, and perform other types of work on the cheap. The rise of body shops means that formerly incarcerated workers, who are disproportionately Black, are increasingly exploited to perform the dangerous work of erecting New York City’s luxury towers and shopping complexes. Continue reading Union Semester Student Bailey Miller Wins Labor Journalism Contest
Yesterday’s edition of Democracy Now! featured current Murphy Institute Advanced Certificate student Bob Master and Labor Studies MA alum Pam Galpern, participants in the Verizon workers strike, talking about why they’re striking, how Verizon has responded and where they’ll go from here.
Check out the coverage at Democracy Now!