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New Labor Forum Highlights: June 10th, 2019

The New Labor Forum has a bi-weekly 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.

In the current issue of New Labor Forum , columnist Sarah Jaffe covers a very bright spot in the contemporary labor movement: the impressive union organizing taking place at digital media outlets around the country. Beginning in 2010 with Truthout, the first digital newsroom to organize, then since 2015, a wave of unionization has taken place at outlets that include: Gawker, The Onion, The Dodo, Gizmodo Media Group, HuffPost, Mic.com, Thrillist, Mic, Jacobin, Fast Company, The Onion, BuzzFeed, Vox Media, Slate, Salon, the Intercept, MTV News, and the fashion site Refinery29.

Campaigns with the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) and NewsGuild-Communications Workers of America (CWA) have been led largely by millenials and, as Steven Greenhouse reports in an article in NiemanLab included here, have focused on raising abysmal starting wages, improving benefits packages, and protecting workers from the precarity that characterizes the industry. And according to TeenVogue columnist Kim Kelly − who figures in Jaffe’s and Greenhouse’s reporting and spoke at a CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies forum – collective bargaining at these media outlets has also begun to make strides toward improving workplace culture and bringing about “the world we think we want.” New digital media union members continue to experiment with their own feisty and innovative organizing to secure labor contracts. For instance, just last Thursday at Vox Media, approximately 300 workers stayed out of work to pressure the company to settle a contract that’s been in negotiation since April of last year. The dearth of fresh content to post left the company high and dry for the day and seems likely to spur a settlement.

Table of Contents
  1. The Labor Movement Comes to Virtual Reality: Unionizing Digital Media/ Sarah Jaffe,New Labor Forum
  2. Why are digital newsrooms unionizing now?/ Steven Greenhouse, Nieman Lab
  3. The Next Generation: Young Workers Building Movements/ The Murphy Institute, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies

Photo by lizsmith via flickr (cc-by-nc-nd)

Union Semester Student Bailey Miller Wins Labor Journalism Contest

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

Video: The Making of a Foreign Policy

As the 2020 presidential election approaches, what do progressives hope to see from candidates when it comes to foreign policy? On Friday, May 10th, members of the SLU community and beyond gathered to explore the tricky of how to develop a foreign policy that makes sense for the current world and keeps true to progressive values.

The conversation brought together Katrina vanden Heuvel, Publisher of The Nation, and Aziz Rana, Professor of Law at Cornell University, with the New Labor Forum’s Steve Fraser moderating.

Progressive activists and political leaders in the U.S. have been slow to elaborate a vision regarding foreign policy. Although anti-interventionism and support for decreases in military spending are widely shared stances on the left, they do not comprise a comprehensive foreign policy platform.

What accounts for the lack of attention toward developing a progressive foreign policy platform? What principles and policies would make up such a platform? What would a non-imperial vision of the U.S. in the world look like? What current alliances would such a platform call into question? What are the current possibilities and the substantial obstacles to advancing a contemporary progressive vision for foreign policy? What can we expect from the growing progressive wing of Congressional Democrats?

2019 Murphy Diversity in Labor Scholarship Gala (5/23)

Photo features Diversity Scholarship recipients from 2017 plus staff.

In 2012 the Murphy Institute launched a scholarship program designed to promote diversity in union leadership and labor education.  The Joseph S. Murphy Diversity in Labor Scholarship program awards two-year scholarships of up to $30,000 for graduate students and up to $20,000 for undergraduate students. The scholarship is available to students applying to the M.A. in Labor Studies program, or the B.A. in Urban and Community Studies program with a concentration in labor studies.

This year, for the first time, the Diversity Scholarship is being celebrated as a signature program of the new CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies. The 2019 fundraiser and awards gala will take place on Thursday, May 23rd from 5:30-7:30 PM at the School.  Bhairavi Desai, Executive Director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, will be the guest speaker.  The event will also feature the announcement of the 2019 Rising Leaders and the recipients of the 2019-20 scholarship awards.

Your support for the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies is greatly appreciated.

Notes on Our Economy

After last month’s economic democracy conference at SLU, new ideas and conversations are bubbling up in New York City and beyond. How can we implement some of our best ideas about democratizing our workplaces and our economy?

One attendee, Evelyn Wright of Commonwealth Hudson Valley, wrote a blog post outlining her work and ideas and summarizing some of the conversations that the day generated

Last Friday I went into the city for a daylong conference on Economic Democracy and System Change at CUNY’s School of Labor and Urban Studies. Deputy Mayor Philip Thompson opened the day with a talk about why we need economic democracy, how economic democracy differs from the socialism and social democracy of the twentieth century, and what the city is doing to promote it. Continue reading Notes on Our Economy

New Labor Forum Highlights: April 29th, 2019

The New Labor Forum has a bi-weekly 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.

According to a recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of U.S. workers involved in work stoppages in 2018 was at a three-decade high. Not since 1986 had as many workers taken up the most potent tool in labor’s arsenal: the strike weapon. The recent, victorious strike by Stop & Shop workers in New England – achieving wage increases and halting the company’s roll back of health benefits − continues this trend, indicative of heightened solidarity and militancy among workers. This labor fight back may be part of the burgeoning national resistance of all kinds to political and economic elites. It’s likely to have taken some inspiration from the heroic red state teachers’ strikes last year. It may also be an outgrowth of a low unemployment rate emboldening workers to demand more from employers. Whatever the cause, labor seems increasingly prepared to dust off the nearly defunct strike weapon, which New Labor Forum author, Joe Burns, has argued is a sine qua non for rebuilding worker power.

Table of Contents

  1. STRIKE! Why Mothballing Labor’s Key Weapon is Wrong/ Joe Burns, New Labor Forum
  2. Another Big Victory for Labor/ Lauren Kaori Gurley, The New Republic
  3. Major Work Stoppages in 2018/Bureau of Labor Statistics

Photo by Revise_D via flickr (cc-by-sa)

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