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.
Well in advance of the fall 2020 issue of New Labor Forum , we are releasing an important article by David Unger on the relationship of organized labor to police and carceral work. In “ Which Side Are We On: Can Labor Support #BlackLivesMatter and Police Unions ,” Unger asks whether the highly unionized workforce of nearly 2 million people employed by the carceral state have a right to union representation. And if so, should there be limits placed on their ability to collectively bargain and lobby? And furthermore, do police unions deserve a place within the AFL-CIO, given the role they have sometimes played in strike-breaking as well as controlling and even attacking protests by labor and its allies? Subscribe now to New Labor Forum to join conversations like this and support the work of the journal.
We also include here a cutting-edge talk by Maurice Weeks, of the Action Center on Race and the Economy, presented at a recent forum hosted by NLF publisher, the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies. Weeks discusses #DefundPolice and its challenge to the structural power of police departments. He also reveals the extent to which police departments dominate municipal budgets, citing L.A., Detroit, and Tulsa, where policing accounts for 52%, 36%, and 30% respectively of those cities’ total expenditures. And, extending the discussion of labor’s role in the fight for racial justice, April Simms, Secretary Treasurer of the Washington State Labor Council, examines the impact on black families and communities of ceaseless police killings of unarmed black citizens. She also makes a plea for unions “to do the uncomfortable but necessary work of fighting the white supremacy that is choking us.” We end with a heart-rending poem by Mark Doty, commemorating 12-year-old Tamir Rice, murdered at the hands of the police.
Table of Contents
- Which Side Are We On: Can Labor Support #BlackLivesMatter and Police Unions? / David Unger, New Labor Forum
- Black Workers and the Triple Pandemic / with Maurice BP-Weeks, June 24, 2020, CUNY SLU forum
- “We need you to fight for us to breathe” / April Sims, The Stand
- In Two Seconds: Tamir Rice 2002-2014 / Mark Doty, American Poetry Review, vol. 44 no. 03
If you are looking for ways to develop or deepen your involvement in racial justice, below you’ll find a collection of resources to help get you started, whether it be by donating, marching, signing a petition or writing your local and federal elected officials.
Articles and Resources
Photo by Johnny Silvercloud via flickr (cc-by-sa)
This International Workers’ Day, celebrate as workers have throughout history: take to the streets. For a guide to the marches, rallies, protest and strikes happening throughout New York City, hop over to Gothamist, where Emma Whitford has compiled an overview of the day’s events. Happy May Day!
Photo by Wally Gobetz via flickr (CC-BY-NC-ND)
The New Labor Forum has launched 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 this issue, we’re looking at the explosion of what is being called ‘the resistance.’ The vast proliferation of organizing in the face of President Trump raises important questions Should partisans inside the Democratic Party wage a fight between its left and it’s center, or combine forces? Does the proliferation of new efforts represent genuinely innovative projects, or does it mask a great deal of overlap and wheel reinvention? Should the main target of organizing be Trump and the Republicans, or broader, systemic obstacles that include casino capitalism? Finally, what does it mean that the largest, most powerful progressive institutions – such as organized labor – don’t seem to be at the forefront of this resistance?
Today’s issue includes a piece written for the newsletter by Tom Gallagher on the strategic options confronting the left within the Democratic Party; an article by Micah Uetricht soon to appear in the May issue of New Labor Forum assessing the Sander’s inspired Our Revolution as well as various snapshots of what this resistance is looking like in the current moment, including the breaking news that a major local of the Service Employees International Union as well as a multitude of workers centers plan to participate in a May Day strike.
Table of Contents
- The Democratic Party Left After the Ellison DNC Campaign: Unite or Fight? By Thomas Gallagher
- The World Turned Upside Down: ‘Our Revolution,’ Trump Triumphant, and the Remaking of the Democratic Party by Micah Uetricht
- List of New Resistance Initiatives in 2017
- GroundGame listing of protests
- SEIU Local Joins May 1 General Strike by (BuzzFeed) Cora Lewis
- Indivisible Eldorado Hills Townhall meeting
Photo by Ted Eytan via flickr (CC-SA)
On Monday, residents of cities and states around the country celebrated Indigenous Peoples’ Day. New Yorkers, meanwhile, observed a holiday with what, for many, is an offensive and outdated name: Columbus Day.
Cities like Seattle, Denver and Phoenix have all renamed the civic holiday in honor of the indigenous people on whose land America was founded, rather than the colonial conqueror who claimed it in the name of Europeans. But New York City has yet to make such a move. For indigenous activists and their allies, this failure is part of a long chain of white supremacist actions, aggressions and traumas, the symbols of which are visible throughout the city.
One such symbol is a 10-foot tall statue in front of the American Museum of Natural History. The statue features Theodore Roosevelt on a horse, flanked on one side by an African man and on the other, an indigenous man: a starkly racist image of a colonialist history. This past Monday, hundreds of activists came together to cover the statue with a parachute and “Decolonize This Place,” demanding both the removal of the statue and the renaming of the holiday. Continue reading Decolonize This Museum: An Indigenous Peoples’ Day Action
Yesterday’s PSC protest at the offices of CUNY central administration led to the arrest of several dozen CUNY faculty members. Hundreds of CUNY staff and faculty members participated in the protest, held on behalf of the approximately 25,000 faculty and professional staff members who have been working without a contract, and without raises, since 2010. From the New York Times coverage of the action:
On Wednesday, before the protest, the university made an offer for a six-year contract, beginning in 2010, which would include salary increases totaling 6 percent. The university described the contract in a news release as reflective of its “current fiscal condition and its ability to fund a new contract.”
But Dr. [Barbara] Bowen [president of the Professional Staff Congress/CUNY] said the increases would not keep up with inflation and therefore represented a salary cut. “We feel that education at CUNY is endangered,” said Dr. Bowen, a professor of English at Queens College and CUNY’s Graduate Center. She said that salaries at CUNY were not competitive with other public universities in the region.
“CUNY’s secret has always been that it has attracted the first rank of faculty and staff,” she said.
“What has happened in this contract period and now with Chancellor Milliken’s failed offer is that that will not be possible anymore,” she added. “We think it’s depriving our students of what they need. We think it’s an attack on our students.”
For the full article, visit the New York Times.