A recent Wall Street Journal article laid out NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio’s vision for an Amazon-ed Big Apple: a unionized labor force. Katie Honan writes:
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday that New York City employees of Amazon.com Inc. should unionize and that their organizing wouldn’t prompt the company to pull out of a deal to build a new campus in Queens and bring 25,000 high-paying jobs to the location.
“I think their stance on unionization reflects a different time,” Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, said of Amazon at an unrelated press conference. “Now that people are more and more concerned about decent wages and benefits, I think Amazon’s gonna have to reconsider that.”
They mayor set forth a vision of Amazon as a company that will be responsive to labor organizing and pressures for livable wages and decent working conditions. Keen observers of Amazon’s track record, however, might not be quite so optimistic. Honan goes on to quote SLU’s Stephanie Luce:
Stephanie Luce, a professor of labor studies at the City University of New York, said the company’s union battles around the world are well-documented, even in cities and countries with stronger union ties than New York City.
“It’s a real stretch to think that they can have enough leverage to make them fold,” she said. “It would be naive to believe that any city really has enough clout to make Amazon cave to demands, especially after they’re here.”
Read the full article at the Wall Street Journal.
With Janus placing public sector unions on the chopping block while West Virginia teachers stage a wildcat strike for their rights, what’s the right way to feel about the future of labor? Is the picture as bleak as we’ve been made to think, or might there be glimmers of hope portending a brighter future ahead?
Murphy Professor Stephanie Luce recently interviewed historian Annelise Orleck for Jacobin. Orleck’s new book “We Are All Fast-Food Workers Now”: The Global Uprising against Poverty Wages is the result of her interviews with 140 workers around the world. The picture she paints offers room for some optimism and hope amid it all.
An excerpt from the interview is below. Read the full interview at Jacobin.
Stephanie Luce: You give quite a few inspirational stories, but most of the people you write about are living in pretty difficult conditions — whether it’s Walmart and fast-food workers in the United States, garment workers in Cambodia, or farmers in India. Some of the people you write about have been beaten, jailed — labor activists have been harassed, fired, kidnapped, and murdered. How are they winning?
Continue reading Stephanie Luce Interviews Annelise Orleck for Jacobin
Organized labor has suffered sharp declines in recent years. So where does this leave the labor movement? And how do New York City and State compare to the nation as a whole?
Murphy Professors Ruth Milkman and Stephanie Luce have released a new report that addresses these questions. State of the Unions 2017: A Profile of Organized Labor in New York City, New York State and the United States looks at how union density has changed nationally and locally across demographics and industries over the past decades, and assesses the challenges and prospects that the labor movement faces now and in the coming years.
Explore this invaluable and accessible report here.
On the occasion of Labor Day this year, New York City received some welcome news courtesy of “The State of the Unions 2016,” the latest report from Murphy Professors Ruth Milkman and Stephanie Luce. Amid declining rates of unionization nationwide, the Big Apple remains strong, with over 25% of workers unionized.
According to the report, entitled “The State of the Unions,” NYC’s unionization rate has increased steadily over the past three years, from 21.5% in 2012 up to 25.5% last year.
From the New York Times:
About 70 percent of public-sector workers in the city and the state are union members, compared with just 19 percent of private-sector workers in the city and 13 percent in the rest of the state. Still, both of those rates are much higher than those of the nation, where less than 7 percent of private-sector workers — or about one in 15 — belong to unions.
All told, there are about 901,000 unionized workers living in New York City, slightly less than half the state’s total of 1.99 million. Only California has more — about 2.5 million in 2015, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. But that total amounted to only about one in six workers in California, compared with slightly less than one in four in New York State.
Read more at the NYTimes or see the full report here.
Photo by MTA Photos via flickr (CC-BY)
This article originally featured at Jacobin. Reprinted with permission.
By Stephanie Luce
The Fight for 15 movement claimed its biggest victories to date last week, with both New York and California passing major minimum-wage increases.
California’s rate, currently one of the highest in the country at $10 dollars per hour, will rise incrementally and reach $15 dollars by 2022. In New York, the wage floor will go up according to business size and location: larger New York City employers (ten or more employees) must pay at least $15 by the end of 2018, while smaller employers in the city (fewer than ten employees) will have until the end of 2019 to meet that mark.
Westchester County and suburban Long Island wages will hit $15 by 2022. And upstate New York employers will have to pay employees at least $12.50 by the end of 2020, after which the state will determine how to get to $15.
It’s disappointing that the $15 requirement won’t cover all of New York state for some time, and that upstate New York workers won’t see a $15 minimum for several years at least. Unlike California, New York also still allows tipped workers to be paid a lower wage. But considering the trajectory of the US minimum wage over the past four decades, these are enormous wins. Simply put, the US has never seen an increase this large. Continue reading And a Union: Minimum-Wage Victories & the Fight for Worker Power
All photos via PSC-CUNY.org.
On Wednesday, PSC-CUNY members demonstrated in response to 6 years without a contract at CUNY Central Administrative offices, where about 50 people were arrested. Prof. Stephanie Luce, one of many Murphy Institute community members who participated in the action, and one of four who were arrested, talks about her experience below:
Q. Why did you participate in the CD action?
A. I decided to participate in the civil disobedience action because I want to defend the idea of CUNY: a great public institution that is supported by the city and state. CUNY was created to provide a top-quality education to the people of New York City, and it is also a large employer providing good jobs to tens of thousands of people. Continue reading Stephanie Luce Talks Civil Disobedience, Arrest at PSC Action