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New Labor Forum Highlights: December 2019

The New Labor Forum has a monthly newsletter on current topics in labor, curated by the some of the most insightful scholars and activists in the labor world today. Check out some highlights from the latest edition below.

Surveillance capitalism has opened up a whole new era in capital accumulation, the developments of which New Labor Forum continues to examine. Relying on a process of primitive accumulation which has always been characteristic of capitalism, surveillance capitalism extends capital’s reach beyond nature and human labor into the interior, intimate life of human beings, by tracking, manipulating, and trading in human behavior.  In the current issue of the journal, Evan Malmgren surveys this twenty-first century data merchandising and behavioral manipulation and assesses the burgeoning efforts by individuals and organizations to tame, if not exactly overturn, this new brand of capitalism.

And, as advance reading for newsletter subscribers, we also offer Max Fraser’s January 2020 column “Organized Money: What is Corporate America Thinking?”, which tracks recent dramatic increases in political spending, including a marked surge in contributions to Republicans, by the pioneers of surveillance capitalism. Big Tech lobbying and campaign contributions , especially by the “Big Four” — Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple — have catapulted to fend off a spate of government inquiries, record-setting fines, and mounting worker protest , including petitions, walk-outs, and union organizing drives . Fraser suggests that a primary concern of Big Tech has been to prevent the proliferation of California-esque legislation — epitomized by the state’s Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 and its new law requiring gig-economy workers to be regarded as employees rather than independent contractors. And as the battle between surveillance capitalism and its growing legion of detractors rages on, we’ll continue to cover it.

Table of Contents
  1. Resisting “Big Other”: What Will It Take to Defeat Surveillance Capitalism? by Evan Malmgren / New Labor Forum
  2. Big Trouble for Big Tech by Max Fraser / New Labor Forum
  3. How Workers Are Fighting Back Against Big Tech by Rick Paulas / Vice
  4. Google Fires 4 Workers Active in Labor Organizing by Kate Conger and Daisuke Wakabayashi / The New York Times

Featured photo by Book Catalog via flickr (cc-by)

NEW DEADLINE: Spring 2020 Tuition Scholarship Application Now Open

DEADLINE HAS BEEN UPDATED TO JANUARY 9th, 2020

The CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies (SLU) is offering both continuing and new SLU students and LEAP to Teacher (LTT) students tuition assistance scholarships for the Spring 2020 semester. Scholarships will be awarded on a semester-by-semester basis by the SLU Scholarship Committee. Transcripts, financial aid information and enrollment will be reviewed to ensure recipients continue to meet scholarship eligibility requirements. Students must re-apply each semester to be considered for a scholarship for the next term.

Please read the application instructions and FAQ carefully and complete the application thoroughly. Pay attention to deadlines.  Deadlines are different for the SLU and the LEAP to Teacher scholarships. Incomplete or late applications will not be accepted nor reviewed.

APPLY HERE

SLU and China’s SWUPL Establish MOU for International Education Exchange

Last June, SLU adjunct professor Joshua Bienstock and China Program Manager Jiajing “Jojo” Xu visited Southwest University of Political Law and Science (SWUPL) in Chongqing, China. Joshua taught courses in negotiation and collective bargaining, and Jojo held a number of preliminary information sessions with freshman and sophomore students majoring in labor and business fields who were interested in studying at SLU.
The initiative paid off handsomely, as SWUPL and SLU have now established an education exchange memorandum of understanding. SWUPL will offer $1,500 scholarships to students who choose to attend SLU’s undergraduate and graduate certificate programs.

Last week, Jojo organized and co-hosted several online presentations and information sessions to educate SWUPL’s students about how to apply to study at SLU. SWUPL’s academic director for labor relations and business law, Fu Hongyong, and associate dean of the business school, Li Yujie (shown above), also participated. Jojo reports that the students showed great enthusiasm for the program and gave good feedback.

 

Featured photo by Natasha de Vere & Col Ford via flickr (cc-by)

Event: BEYOND RESISTANCE: A Progressive Immigration Agenda for 2020 (12/3)

Tue, December 3, 2019
6:00 PM – 8:30 PM EST
CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies
25 West 43rd Street, 18th Floor
New York, NY 10036

RSVP HERE

What should be the top priorities of a progressive immigration agenda for 2020?

Featured speakers:

Maribel Hernandez-Rivera – District Director for U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Deepak Bhargava – Distinguished Lecturer in Urban Studies, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies (SLU)

Muzaffar Chishti – Director of the Migration Policy Institute at NYU Law

ModeratorRuth Milkman, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies (SLU)

What should be the top immigration policy priorities of a new Democratic administration, assuming an election win in 2020? What are the labor market, social, and political impacts of merit-based vs. more humanitarian immigration streams? What are the various impacts of these two streams on the labor movement and working-class communities? What are the various political and economic interests influencing the growth of the deportation and detention industry? In what different ways are U.S. communities and jobs dependent on this industry? What are the key political distinctions among pro-immigration forces? Should the mass decriminalization of migrants and refugees be at the top of an immigration reform agenda? As war and climate change promise to accelerate this world-wide migratory trend, what policy framework should organized labor and social justice movements support?

FIRST COME, FIRST SEATED

Events are free and open to all, but due to space constraints registration is requested. We generally overbook to ensure a full house. Registered guests are given priority check-in 15 to 30 minutes before start time. After the event starts all registered seats are released regardless of registration, so we recommend that you arrive early. Light refreshments will be served.

AUDIO/VIDEO RECORDING

Programs are photographed and recorded by the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies for educational purposes. Attending this event indicates your consent to possibly being filmed and photographed and your consent to the use of your recorded image by the School.

PRESS

Please email all press inquiries (photo, video, interviews, audio-recording, etc.) at least 24 hours before the day of the program to events@slu.cuny.edu. Please note that professional photography and video recordings are prohibited without expressed consent.

PRIVACY POLICY

No spam, ever. Your email address will only be used by the event sponsors to communicate with you about this event and upcoming public programs.

ACCESSIBILITY

This venue has an elevator and is accessible for wheelchair users. There is an all-gender restroom on site. Simultaneous translation into other languages is not available for this event.

Video: Going Big: Reversing Trump’s Agenda & Modernizing Labor Rights

On Friday, November 15th, SLU hosted a Labor Forum on the future of labor rights. 135 people attended to hear how the labor movement can fight for workers’ rights and protections while the Trump administration continues to attempt to roll them back.

Featured speakers included:

  • Randi Weingarten — President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
  • Steven Greenhouse — Veteran New York Times labor journalist and author of the new book, Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor.
  • Vincent Alvarez – President of NYC Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO

Although union density is near an all-time low, labor activism has surged in many sectors. From adjunct faculty to video game developers, digital media workers, platform app drivers, and public school teachers, labor movement activism is growing in a number of key sectors. This is happening as many full-time jobs with benefits are disappearing, consumer/student debt is skyrocketing, the “gig economy” is expanding, and economic insecurity is increasing for American workers and families. Housing and child care costs – which heavily impact workers’ income, wealth, and health – have also become more burdensome for many families. Under President Trump, a number of worker rights and protections have been weakened or denied, including:

• No movement toward federal minimum wage increase

• Weak overtime protections for salaried workers

• Allowing employers to self-report wage violations and escape penalties • Siding with employers against rights of gay and transgender workers

• (Mis)classifying Uber drivers and others as independent contractors, denying them basic rights

• Continuing ‘Right-to-Work’ efforts kickstarted by Supreme Court’s Janus decision

• Restricting workers’ right to organize at franchised businesses like McDonald’s

• De-funding and weakening OSHA

What should be Democrats’ top policy priorities to strengthen all workers’ rights? What are the most significant gaps and weaknesses in protections for worker organizing and economic rights today? ‘Right-to-work’ laws? Legal constraints against strikes and other worker actions? Minimum wage? The growing numbers of workers who fall outside the protections of the NLRA? Lack of livable safety net benefits for displaced and underemployed workers? Lack of protections for flex/gig workers? What new policies would best promote stronger worker protections and greater economic justice?

A conversation about workers, communities and social justice

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