Murphy Alum Featured in Public Employee Press

This past summer, Tracye Hawthorne, graduate of Murphy’s Cornell/CUNY Labor Relations Certificate Program, was featured in DC37’s Public Employee Press. The article, entitled The Making of an Activist, describes Hawthorne’s journey to becoming shop steward at Clerical-Administrative Employees Local 1549.

From the profile, by Gregory N. Heires:

Arkansas – (a “right-to-work” for less state that prohibits union security agreements) – isn’t exactly a hotbed of union activity. Most workers there lack the job security and workplace protections that so many in New York City have.

So when Arkansas native Tracye Hawthorne moved to New York City over five years ago, she was only too happy to find a job as a unionized civil servant.

Continue reading Murphy Alum Featured in Public Employee Press

New York Power

By Joseph J. Cunningham

The following is an excerpt from Murphy adjunct Prof. Joseph J. Cunningham’s new book New York Power, which tells the story of the development of today’s New York City electric utility system.

New York City has long represented one of the most concentrated urban developments in the world. That density has placed unique constraints on every aspect of life. Electric light and power appeared during the 1880s, but much development was required to supply urban service at a cost that would make possible large-scale consumption. Innovation was needed most in midtown Manhattan, where the sheer density of electrical load overwhelmed the early systems and which continues to be the greatest concentration of electrical load in the world. The first public service was initiated in 1880 with the illumination of Broadway, Madison Park and some businesses by arc lights of the Brush Electric Company. Two years later, Thomas Edison introduced incandescent light service to the offices and businesses of the financial district from his station on Pearl Street. While that installation entered the record books, his long term objective was the midtown area. Edison considered the establishment of electric service in the area of the West Twenties and Thirties vital to the future of his company. Continue reading New York Power

Black Friday Protests

On the eve of what is — for many Americans — the biggest consumer holiday of the year, many of us in the labor movement are making plans to voice our discontent with the exploitative practices that fuel Black Friday.

Check out blackfridayprotests.org to learn how you can come out tomorrow and support Walmart workers in their fight for rights and fair standards.

Need some convincing? Watch this video from Robert Reich on How 1.4m Americans Could Get a Raise Right Now:


Photo by UFCW Local400 via flickr (CC-BY).

Italians Demonstrate in Opposition to Jobs Act

In Italy, a proposed change in labor laws has demonstrators taking the streets. Known as the Jobs Act, this as-yet unwritten law is seen as a “rolling back” of labor protections, that many protestors see as an erosion of rights for those living in increasingly precarious situations.

According to an article in the New York Times by Elisabetta Povoledo last week,

…in a country where the first article of the Constitution declares it a republic “founded on work,” rolling back labor protections is not to be taken lightly. It is particularly telling that many of those opposing Mr. Renzi’s plans are young people.

They are deeply skeptical that the proposed change would in fact open jobs to them — so many other overhaul efforts before it have failed to do so. Instead, they are demanding the same guarantees that their parents have had, something it is not at all clear Italy can still afford.

“All he’s doing is destroying the rights of full-time workers without giving rights to people in precarious job situations,” said Francesco Raparelli, 36, one of the coordinators of a nationwide strike last Friday by thousands of workers who hold temporary contracts.

Continue reading Italians Demonstrate in Opposition to Jobs Act

Journalists Gather to Discuss Labor and the Elections at Murphy

Last Friday, Sarah Jaffe, Juan Gonzalez, Errol Louis, Michael Hirsch and Ed Ott participated in a panel discussion in front of a packed house here at Murphy. The panelists analyzed the 2014 midterm elections, looking at what happened this time around and discussing the implications for the future.

Miss the Forum? Check out the livestream, embedded below and archived on our new YouTube channel.


Dead Labor on a Dead Planet: The Inconvenient Truth of Workers’ Bladders

This article was originally featured in Monthly Review Zine.

By Kafui Attoh

“Once labor has been embodied in instruments of production and enters the further process of labor to play its role there, it may be called, following Marx, dead labor [. . .]. The ideal toward which capitalism strives is the domination of dead labor over living labor.” — Harry Braverman
“[T]here are no jobs on a dead planet.” — Bill McKibben

In a recent essay in New Labor Forum, authors Jeremy Brecher, Ron Blackwell, and Joe Uehlein urge the labor movement to take a more active role in the fight against climate change. Many unions, they lament, have been reluctant to engage the issue, and indeed others have actively taken positions at odds with the climate movement’s most basic tenets. Where unions have been asked to choose between job security and the environment, many have understandably chosen the former. In this fraught context, the authors argue that unions must not only work to reveal the “jobs versus environment” choice as a false one, but that they must do so by developing a climate protection strategy of their own. Continue reading Dead Labor on a Dead Planet: The Inconvenient Truth of Workers’ Bladders

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