Written by: Alvin Baugh
In my first semester at the School of Labor and Urban Studies I was asked to read some writings by John Locke, a philosopher whose ideas are fundamental to the founding of the United States. As I read Locke, I saw an intersection between his ideas and my own life. Whether knowingly or unknowingly, adherents to Locke’s 17th century theories have allowed many Black Americans, African Americans, and descendants of African slaves to have their possessions, homes, and land robbed from them by means of deception, thievery, even murder, resulting in no generational wealth, limiting a Black family’s ability to own a home even into this 21st century.
The application of Locke’s theory of possessions and property have had negative consequences, over and over throughout my life. My family is not an anomaly. Many Black American families have had similar experiences living in this country.
Continue reading Locke’d Out
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
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
By Dyckman Welcome
Data suggests that public education is most effective when parents, teachers, students and school administrators collaborate to focus on the individual needs of a child. A one-size-fits-all model of educating and measuring student achievement works well for some children, but leaves others desperately seeking public education alternatives.
One alternative to the current system of public education fueling political debate is the expansion of school choice through school voucher programs. According to supporters, implementation of voucher programs would create a market driven system that improves educational standards benefiting all of America’s children. The problem is, the school voucher system has been implemented in other parts of the world, and failed, even as it appeared to initially succeed. Continue reading Sweden’s School Choice Disaster
By Kressent Pottenger
Imagine: you call a hotline to complain about how you were fired for being pregnant or harassed by your manager. On the other end, an operator gives you advice on organizing and labor law.
It sounds unlikely today, but in the 1970s, a group of women clerical workers, frustrated with their treatment, developed and achieved success with these non-traditional methods of organizing.
Migrating from the unpaid labor of the home to wage labor in the office, women workers needed a safe way to confide the humiliations and degradation they were experiencing in their offices. The working women’s group 9to5 therefore developed the “9to5 Job Survival Hotline,” which functioned much like hotlines for domestic abuse or suicide. This private hotline allowed women workers to call, anonymously, describe their grievances in what was at times embarrassing detail, and determine how to push back. 9to5 thereby created a safe space via phone for women workers to call and speak about what they endured on the job, and learn what course of action to take next. Continue reading Dial-an-Organizer: Using Storytelling and Emotion to Build Movements
After 45 days on strike, nearly 40,000 Verizon workers have agreed to head back to work. Having reached a tentative agreement with the communications giant, the workers state that they have achieved their goals: raising working families’ standard of living, creating over 1,300 new union jobs and achieving a first contract for retail store workers.
The largest strike in recent history, this Communications Workers of America (CWA) action marks a significant display of the strength of collective action.
During the strike, the company scrambled to fill positions with non-unionized and non-specialized personnel. Workers and their allies engaged in frequent rallies and demonstrations, holding space and making their position known. In the end, it more than paid off: besides winning the workers a raise, reversing cutbacks and creating jobs, the successful strike asserted the importance of workers in making communications infrastructure work, and re-asserted the role that organized labor can play in securing rights for workers.
Before the settlement was announced, CWA Local 1101 member, Verizon Striker and Murphy Alum (Cornell-CUNY Labor Relations Certificate, 2014) Christopher Vilardo shared this statement with the blog:
Here we are, over 10 months from when negotiations began and only one thing has changed: we are on the street. Continue reading Reflections from the Verizon Strike