By Joshua Freeman
In a Labor Day op-ed article in the NY Daily News, I argued that even as unions have suffered a series of setbacks and continue to slip in the percentage of workers they represent, labor issues are more prominent now than at any time in the recent past. What we are seeing might be called the re-emergence of “the labor question.” (New York is somewhat exceptional because, as the Murphy Institute’s Ruth Milkman and Stephanie Luce show in a forthcoming study reported in The New York Times, union membership in the city has been rising significantly of late.)
“The labor question” was once a common term, widely used in the early 20th century. On the simplest level, it asked how orderly relations could be maintained between employers and employees, preventing the outbursts of labor strife that had become common in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Continue reading The Labor Question
On Labor Day this year, Murphy faculty members Ruth Milkman and Stephanie Luce were quoted in a New York Times article entitled Study Suggests a Rebound for Union Jobs in New York. The article describes the pair’s research findings around trends in union membership in New York City, referencing their recent “State of the Unions” report — which notes a “pretty healthy uptick” in the number of union workers in New York City.
Read the full report here.
We are excited to welcome incoming Fall 2014 students to The Murphy Institute this week! Below is a reflection from Palma Dellaporta, a PSC member and a registrar at Brooklyn College, who attended the Urban Studies MA orientation last Saturday.
[The Urban Studies MA Orientation this past Saturday] was a comprehensive event that not only left me feeling like I had all the information I needed, but truly supported.The most striking aspect of the day was how genuinely interested in the students everyone was. Their interest was not only about our studies, but about our lives, what brought us to the program, and what our expectations were. The encouragement, kindness, wealth of knowledge, and the true welcome made me sure I have found my academic home for the next two years. Additionally, the diversity of my cohort is wonderful. I am energized, anxious to get to work, and looking forward to what this program will bring to my life overall.
Welcome Fall 2014 Students!
Whose Side Are You On?
By Andrew Ross
The BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) campaign is shaping up as one of these historical moments when everyone has to choose which side they are on. Trade unionists have good reason to know what this feels like. Labor history is punctuated with similar contests, when nuanced views on strategy have run their course and we are left with a stark moral choice. For too long, the debate about how best to oppose the occupation of Palestine has been clouded, often intentionally, by strenuous deliberations over tactics. As for those in official positions, the formidable sway of pro-Zionist lobbying has been disturbingly effective. Elected politicians have AIPAC watching their every move, and high officialdom within the AFL-CIO has the Jewish Labor Committee (JLC) to placate. As Richard Trumka put it plainly at a JLC dinner gathering in 2009: “Tonight, let me tell you that, so long as I’m president, you will never have a stronger ally than the AFL-CIO. That’s why we’re proud to stand with the JLC to oppose boycotting Israel.”
Read The Full Debate Here
Engage, Don’t Divest from Israel
By Jo-Ann Mort
Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and its continued control of movement in Gaza is unjust and inhumane. It must be ended as quickly as possible. Israel and Palestine must exist as two states side by side. How can this be achieved? I don’t believe that boycotting
Israel, or the overall BDS prescription for change, is the correct response—not for the labor movement, nor for other movements or individuals.
The current Israeli government is a right-wing government with a smattering of centrist parties devolved from a very complex—and partly dysfunctional—parliamentary system. I don’t support it. But boycotting this government will only make it stronger. That’s because the tendency inside Israel—and especially on the right—is to hunker down in response to boycotts. Poll numbers rise for the right when there are visible attacks on Israel, and savvy politicians—especially Israel’s Prime Minister—make ample use of these opportunities to strengthen their own base at the expense of the left.
Read The Full Debate Here
Photo by ☪yrl via flickr (CC-BY-NC).
This article was originally posted in Quartz.
By Basil Smikle Jr.
Earlier this week, Missouri governor Jay Nixon ended the curfew imposed on the community of Ferguson over the weekend. Residents had been required to be indoors between midnight and 5 am.
It’s not surprising but it’s one of many moves authorities got wrong in their reaction to riots over the shooting death of Michael Brown.
The toxicity of curfews in the St. Louis suburb sparked additional and perhaps retaliatory unrest. The governor’s decision to restrict the movement of Ferguson’s mostly black population exacerbated long-simmering anger toward law enforcement, roiled community leaders, and extended confrontations with residents. Establishing this curfew was only one of many missteps by a clearly overwhelmed police department.
And yet, alarmingly, the tactic itself is gaining acceptance in major American cities.
Continue reading Cities Are Embracing the Worst Idea to Come Out of Ferguson
In a recent article published in Labor Notes, Natasha Raheja, a third-year PhD student in Anthropology at New York University and a member of GSOC-UAW, celebrates the recent win for NYU’s graduate students, who, she writes, “are poised to again become the only private sector student workers with a union contract in the U.S.”
She then challenges her union to go further than it has,
“calling for more transparency and for building strength through member participation. We want to revive our organizing committee, hold biweekly open member meetings, and send members regular detailed updates. We want to end closed-door negotiations without student workers present and promptly replace our three resigned bargaining committee members.”
She explores some of the recent internal issues she sees the union facing — including a narrow focus and a lack of democracy — before concluding that:
“As the first unionized graduate student workers at a private university in the United States, we at NYU have the opportunity to create a model, good or bad. A member-led contract victory will reverberate across the academic labor movement.”
Read Raheja’s full statement at Labor Notes.
Photo by Michael Gould-Wartofsky via Labor Notes