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New Labor Forum Highlights: October 7th, 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.

Over a half-century ago, in a farewell address to the nation, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned citizens to “guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence . . . by the military-industrial complex.” Eisenhower’s admonition of “the disastrous rise of misplaced power” implicit in the burgeoning Cold War arms build-up would soon come to seem radical. And for decades hence, the words “military-industrial complex,” were seldom uttered by office holders or candidates in either the Republican or Democratic Party. Continue reading New Labor Forum Highlights: October 7th, 2019

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)

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)

New Labor Forum Highlights: March 4th, 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.

Until recently, it has been assumed that among the most highly skilled and best paid soft-ware engineers and technicians, the chances of collective resistance to the labor and other managerial practices of the giants of the industry were virtually nil. However, journalist Julianne Tveten’s article for New Labor Forum’s winter 2019 issue records the growing fight back on the part of precisely these kinds of workers at places like Google and Microsoft. And some recent tech worker efforts have resulted in remarkable victories. Among them, the protest of senior engineers and others at Google that caused the company to end “Project Maven,” its contract with the Defense Department using artificial intelligence to improve the strike precision of the Pentagon’s drones. A distinct feature of this new organizing is the manner in which it combines political and more traditional labor organizing.

Protests against sexual harassment at Google have brought these forms of organizing together to achieve a very recent, notable victory. In Wired, Nitasha Tiku covers the protests’ latest results: the ending of the company’s practice barring workers from initiating class-action suits, or from suing over discrimination or wrongful termination. The widening ideological and political divide between Silicon Valley’s CEOs and its employees has, no doubt, contributed to these advances. Moira Weigel and Ben Tarnoff, writing for The New Republic, note that media outlets have largely failed to take account of tech workers’ growing tendency to eschew the libertarianism prevalent in the corner offices of Silicon Valley for the solidarity of the labor movement. As evidence of this yawning ideological divide, we invite you to view SpeakOut.Tech’s video incitement to tech workers to stand up against their employers, assuring them, “We’ve got your back,” words common in any union hall.
Table of Contents
  1. Daniel in the Lion’s Den: Platform Workers Take on the Tech Giants in the Workplace and the World/ Julianne Tveten, New Labor Forum
  2. Google Ends Forced Arbitration After Employee Protest/Nitasha Tiku, Wired
  3. The Stark Political Divide between Tech CEOs and Their Employees/Moira Weigel and Ben Tarnoff, The New Republic
  4. Tech workers have incredible power/SpeakOut.Tech

Continue reading New Labor Forum Highlights: March 4th, 2019

New Labor Forum Highlights: January 22nd, 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.

Original insights into the workings of an ever-evolving capitalism are rare occurrences. We are proud to be publishing one in the winter 2019 print issue of New Labor Forum.  The article, by Shoshana Zuboff, offered in today’s installment of our newsletter, presents a theory of surveillance capitalism. It’s an essay length summation of her book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power, published to much acclaim and rave reviews.  Zuboff argues that surveillance capitalism opens up a whole new era in capital accumulation. It relies on a process of primitive accumulation, which has always been characteristic of capitalism, but 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. She calls the new system the “Big Other” and ponders what new forms of collective resistance might need to emerge to challenge the dominion of surveillance capitalism.
Table of Contents: 
  1. Surveillance Capitalism and the Challenge of Collective Action/ Shoshana Zuboff, New Labor Forum
  2. How Tech Companies Manipulate Our Personal Data/ Jacob Silverman, New York Times

Continue reading New Labor Forum Highlights: January 22nd, 2019

New Labor Forum Highlights: January 7th, 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.

While reports on the political implications of the current partial government shutdown continue to run on the front pages of major news outlets, less attention has been paid to the 800,000 workers who are going without a pay check. It’s been a decidedly unhappy holiday season for the roughly 400,000 furloughed workers and the approximately 400,000 essential workers forced to keep working without compensation. These workers and their union, the American Federation of Government Employees, are prohibited under federal law from striking or even from bargaining over wages. The union has opted to file a lawsuit against the government alleging that the act of forcing employees deemed essential to work without pay is a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. And, in the meantime, many of those workers have decided to take matters into their own hands in the form of a sickout. As it turns out, Transportation Security Officers (TSA), who get us all through airport security checkpoints on starting salaries that run as low as $25,000 to $30,000 per year, have had enough. Beginning yesterday, the TSA sickout appears to be making a real impact on wait times at airports from New York to Salt Lake City. This may be the beginning of an upsurge of greater militancy among federal workers. We include here a number of articles and a video that explore this vital aspect of the current government shutdown.
Table of Contents: 
  1. How Federal Workers Could Fight the Shutdown/ Ben Beckett and Ryan Haney, Jacobin
  2. Airport Security Lines Grow Across the Nation As TSA Sickout Continues/ Grant Martin, Forbes
  3. Union leader discusses lawsuit against President Trump over shutdown/ The Hill
  4. All 20 previous government shutdowns, explained/ Dylan Matthews, Vox

Continue reading New Labor Forum Highlights: January 7th, 2019

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