Author: Charles Lenchner

Video: Washington DC Protest against the Financial Industry

In response to the closer alliance between Wall Street and the Trump Administration, protestors staged a marriage between Donald Trump and Wall Street on Valentine’s Day, complete with giant puppets and fake money raining down on the assembled crowd. documented Bernie Sanders’ appearance to denounce Trump’s pretense of ‘Draining the Swamp’, and lying about his ties to Wall Street.

The Assault on the CFPB: Current State of Play

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created in the face of industry resistance. With a Republican Congress and President Trump in the White House, it is facing an attack that could be the final blow.

In a joint statement last week, Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. John Ratcliffe presented the Repeal CFPB Act, which targets Title X of Dodd-Frank. The congressmen claim that if passed, the Act would “free consumers and small businesses from the CFPB’s regulatory blockades and financial activism.” In fact, it would completely eliminate the CFPB as an agency. (Consumerist, Lawmakers Introduce Legislation that would Abolish the CFPB)

Should the efforts of Cruz and Ratcliffe fail, there is still House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling’s plan to revise his earlier bill with the aim of weakening, if not completely destroy the CFPB and pacify banks by removing some key components of annual stress tests that evaluate how a bank will perform in a financial crisis.

In a memo to lawmakers, Hensarling outlined the details of his plan. In an article last week, Bloomberg News reported some of the specifics from the memo:

Hensarling is seeking to eliminate much of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s regulatory powers, and transform it into a law enforcement agency. The memo proposes the controversial regulator only be able to pass rules that have been mandated by Congress. The plan would further restrict the agency by eliminating its authority to supervise financial firms and doing away with a public database documenting consumer complaints. (Bloomberg News, New GOP Memo Targets Stress Tests, CFPB in Dodd-Frank Changes)

Hensarling’s other proposal addresses the role of the CFPB director. He has asserted his belief that the bureau should be under the supervision of a single director, and that the director should ‘be removable by the President at-will”. (Bloomberg News) Hensarling has also announced his opinion that the current CFPB director should be fired by Trump before his term ends next summer. The Bureau is presently engaged in appealing a court ruling that would permit the President to do exactly that without cause.

Video: Debt, Wall Street, and Public Sector Unions

At last year’s conference on Public Sector Unions, Saqib Bhatti presented on how debt has replaced income in the US economy. As debt skyrocketed, bank profits have soared, but the impacts on other parts of the economy – and particularly public workers – are negative and getting worse.

Sadiq Bhatti is the Executive Director of the ReFund America Project and a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. He works on campaigns to rebalance the relationship between Wall Street and local communities.

The New Wave of Organizing on Social Media

Since Trump’s election, a number of ‘new’ network and campaigns have sprung up, seemingly out of nowhere. The smallest of these groups has attracted thousands of volunteers in a short period of time. New Labor Forum compiled this list as a resource for those seeking to understand the landscape of this new wave of ‘from below’ activism.

The largest and most prominent of these is of course the recent Women’s March on Washington, which took place this past Saturday. They intend on continuing the mission of the march with actions promoted to their supporters.

It’s true that the ‘newness’ of each group is up for debate; an effort led by Michael Moore might be new, but his personal brand is not. The resource guide based group ‘Indivisible’ is new, but the founding members are congressional staffers who are known quantities to many political insiders. What is new, is that social media and the rapidly accelerating news cycle have made it possible for newly crafted brands to appear out of nowhere and engaged millions in intense, sustained activism in a matter of weeks, leaving established organizations to look for ways to connect in order to remain relevant.


One Hundred Days of Resistance

Michael Moore

He is calling for actions during the first 100 days and releasing his new film TrumpLand.



Beau Willimon and Action Group Network

They are creating a national network of Action Groups to foster a ‘culture of change’. Groups are organized by location and issue. (Willimon is a screenwriter for House of Cards.)



Women’s March 10 Actions 100 Days

A continuation of the project started by the Women’s March on Washington. They will post actions to their website over Trump’s first 100 days in office.




‘A practical guide for resisting the Trump Agenda’ written by Congressional staffers. They seem very open to comments and ideas for improving the guide, which is published online.

Links: @IndivisibleTeam


Democratic Coalition Against Trump

Also known as DCAT, they formed initially to prevent Trump from getting elected. Their new mission is holding the Trump and his administration accountable along with any elected officials who support him.



The Sister District Project

They are working to ensure the voting protections of all American citizens by using the resources of progressive districts.



Trump Resistance Movement

A facebook page dedicated to the peaceful resistance against the intolerance coming from the Trump Administration



Knock Every Door

launching nationwide, volunteer-led canvasses to organize our communities against Trump, starting right after the inauguration on January 20



Rise When We Fall

A citizen watchdog organization enabling Americans to take action against the Trump Administration and Congress, as well as local and state governments.



2 Hours a Week

A community fostering a new level of civic engagement following the 2016 election by offering you 2 hours a week of tangible action.




Swing Districts are places where the winner of the last House of Representatives election was determined by a thin margin. Swing Left helps you find and commit to supporting progressives in your closest Swing District so that you can help ensure we take back the House in 2018.



Organizer’s Roundtable

Organizer’s Roundtable is a people-powered movement that formed in the wake of the 2016 US elections as a response to threats to our communities, our rights, and our freedoms.





LittleSis – the Database of Hidden Relationships Among the Powerful

LittleSis is the snarky alternative to Big Brother – a way for the little people to watch the powerful. A project of Public Accountability Project, a public watchdog group, LittleSis is a tool for conducting research on corporate power and the wealthy, to track corruption and conflicts of interest.

As the names of cabinet appointments have been made public, LittleSis has been posting reports about the relationships between nominees and corporate entities, to help the public better understand who and what they represent.




New Titles From NLF Authors

The City Is the Factory examines the “relocation of the space of protest from the factory to the city . . . see[ing] in it a shift that is both historically distinct and politically significant. Across these city-oriented struggles, [the book’s essay’s] focus on the increasing prominence of what Henri Lefebvre called “right to the city” demands and...

Read more

Winter 2017

Volume 26 Issue 1 Winter 2017



From the Editorial Team

Under the Radar

By Sarah Jaffe

Unreported and under-reported news and views that matter.

On the Contrary

Did the Sanders Campaign Represent a Missed Opportunity for the U.S. Labor Movement? A Debate

We Believe that We Can Win!

By Larry Cohen

Why Hillary Clinton Deserved Labor’s Support

By Randi Weingarten and Leo Casey

The Future of Urban Populism: Will Cities Turn the Political Tides?

By J. Phillip Thompson

What are the prospects of an urban populism that requires people of color and white millennials to combine forces?


Victory at Verizon: The Anatomy of a Strike  

By Dan DiMaggio

Why the Verizon strike is a wake-up call for the labor movement facing technological change.


Milking Workers, Breaking Bodies: Health Inequality in the Dairy Industry

By Julie C. Keller, Margaret Gray, and Jill Lindsey Harrison

Will justice come to the new factories in the field?


Trust-Busting: Labor’s Forgotten Cause

By Carl T. Bogus

Workers should make common cause with consumers to break up corporate monopolies.


How Veterans Are Losing the War at Home: Making America Pain-Free for Plutocrats

and Big Pharma, but not Vets

By Ann Jones

Corporate America’s campaign to dismantle the public health care system for veterans.


Labor Under Putin: The State of the Russian Working Class    

By Paul T. Christensen

Can Russian workers stand up to the Putin oligarchy? 


Prison Guard Unions and Mass Incarceration: Prospects for an Improbable Alliance

By Austin McCoy

Can prisoner and their guards unite against the prison-industrial complex?


Income Inequality and Urban Displacement: The New Gentrification

By Karen Chapple

Is the affordable housing crisis really an income crisis?


Earth to Labor: Dispatches from the Climate Battleground

Standing Rock Solid with the Frackers: Are the Trades Putting Labor’s head in the Gas Oven?

By Sean Sweeney


Roots of Rebellion: A Guide to Insurgencies from Coast to Coast

Is This How You Treat a Guest? Seafood Processing Workers Organize to Change Low-Road Labor Laws

By Mariya Strauss


Organized Money: What Is Corporate America Thinking?

Gutting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau   

By Max Fraser


Books and the Arts

Pressing Charges

Crook County: Racism and Injustice in America’s Largest Criminal Court

By Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve

Reviewed by Zohra Ahmed


Beg, Borrow, or Steal

Between Debt and the Devil: Money, Credit, and Fixing Global Finance

By Adair Turner

How the Other Half Banks: Exclusion, Exploitation, and the Threat to Democracy

By Mehrsa Baradaran

Reviewed by Andrew Elrod


Life Beyond Liberalism

The Future We Want: Radical Ideas for the New Century

Edited by Sarah Leonard and Bhaskar Sunkara

Reviewed by Kate Aronoff


Act Local

The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and The Rise of a New Justice Movement

By William Barber (with Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove)

America’s Social Arsonist: Fred Ross and Grassroots Organizing in the Twentieth Century

By Gabriel Thompson

Reviewed by Steve Early


Out of the Mainstream: Books and Films You May Have Missed

By Matt Witt



The City in Which I Love You

By Li-Young Lee


Letter to the Editor    














Election Debrief: Reporters’ Roundtable (Video)

Click image to watch video.

Reporters' Roundtable

A discussion between Laura Flanders, Jamilah King, Harold Meyerson, and Julio Ricardo Varela


To what degree is the election outcome largely a result of an anxious and enraged white working class, sections of which either endorse the Trump campaign’s virulent racism or are willing to overlook it in favor of his tough talk on free trade and a rigged political system? How should labor and progressive activists understand and respond to the racism the campaign both fueled and exposed? What did the 2016 election tell us about the wisdom and viability of the Obama coalition, which depends on demographic changes presumed to be advantageous, rather than on birthing a multi-racial working-class? What was the nature and extent of organized labor’s impact on the election, particularly in the rust belt?