NLF Highlights

2 Events This Week at the Murphy Institute

Highlights for March 19th

On Friday, March 23rd, the Murphy Institute, publisher of New Labor Forum, will be holding two important public events. Those events provide the dual focus of today’s newsletter.

NLF Consulting Editor Joshua Freeman will be speaking on his important new book Behemoth: The Factory and the Making of the Modern World and sharing the stage with award-winning journalist Louis Uchitelle, who will discuss his book Making It: Why Manufacturing Still Matters. The decline of U.S. manufacturing jobs – to the tune of 28 percent over the past two decades—has, of course, been a primary concern of the trade union movement, which fought tooth and nail to turn that grueling work into decent jobs and a base of union strength. In his recent, ad hoc announcement of 25 and 10 percent tariffs on steel and aluminum, respectively, President Trump sought to capitalize on those concerns. As it turns out, the political history of imposing tariffs as a means to defend manufacturing goes back to the founding of the country, as discussed in an illuminating article for New Labor Forum by Joshua Freeman and Steve Fraser, included here. And what are progressive economists’ to make of the current iteration of protectionism? In their recent op-ed for the Washington Post, Jared Bernstein and Dean Baker critique Trump’s ill-considered trade tariffs, arguing for a trade policy that would support those whose jobs are lost to global trade, while reducing certain protections, namely for professionals and patents that keep the cost of our healthcare so high.

The second public event at the Murphy Institute will bring the #MeToo movement out of the Hollywood spotlight and into the realm of lower waged work in restaurants, on the factory floor, and the hotel cleaning crew, where change often depends on collective action and the coupling of feminist and class consciousness. Providing a historic context for these contemporary efforts, we offer an article by scholars Eileen Boris and Annelise Orleck, written for New Labor Forum on the hundredth anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.

Table of Contents

  1. Book Talk: “Behemoth: The Factory and the Making of the Modern World” & “Making It: Why Manufacturing Still Matters”/ Joshua Freeman & Louis Uchitelle, The Murphy Institute
  2. “In the Rearview Mirror” Trading Places: Protecting American Industry is so Yesterday/ Steve Fraser & Joshua Freeman, New Labor Forum
  3. We know what bad trade policy looks like. But what about good trade policy?/ Jared Bernstein and Dean Baker, The Washington Post
  4. Promising Practices: Labor and Community Fighting Sexual Harassment in the Era of #MeToo/ The Murphy Institute and The Worker Institute at Cornell ILR
  5. FEMINISM AND THE LABOR MOVEMENT: A Century of Collaboration and Conflict/ Eileen Boris and Annelise Orleck/ New Labor Forum

Book Talk

Joshua Freeman & Louis Uchitelle/The Murphy Institute

A talk with two authors, Joshua Freeman author of “Behemoth: The Factory and the Making of the Modern World” and Louis Uchitelle, author of “Making It: Why Manufacturing Still Matters” this Friday, March 23rd from 6:00-8:00pm at the Murphy Institute. Freeman is a distinguished Professor of History at the CUNY Graduate Center and Murphy Institute Consortial Faculty. Uchitelle is a journalist and was the lead reporter for the award-winning NY Times Series The Downsizing of America. 

RSVP here.  

“In the Rearview Mirror” Trading Places: Protecting American Industry is so Yesterday

By Steve Fraser and Joshua Freeman/ New Labor Forum 

From the earliest days of the United States, promoting and protecting manufacturing jobs was a rallying cry for workers and a hotly debated electoral subject. With little exaggeration, one might say that industrializing America constituted the core of public policy for more than a century. One reason artisans—both journeymen and the masters who employed them—supported the ratification of the Constitution was their belief that a strong federal government would be better able to enforce restrictions on imports than the individual states, thereby protecting their markets, jobs, and wages. “Taxes on imported goods,” wrote one Philadelphia plebian, “can distress none but the rich.”  As artisans hoped, the newly created Congress did pass a tariff, and—during the decades that followed—labor groups continued to agitate for high tariffs.

Read the full article here. 

We know what bad trade policy looks like. But what about good trade policy?

By Jared Bernstein and Dean Baker/ The Washington Post

Tariffs of 25 percent and 10 percent on all steel and aluminum imports, respectively, are, as has been widely reported, likely to do more harm than good. They may help protect the minority of workers in the targeted industries, but at some cost to the majority in others. The costs of the tariffs themselves may hardly be noticeable to consumers. Journalist Neil Irwin is correct when he reports that Sen. Mike Lee’s claim that the tariffs constitute a “huge job-killing tax hike on American consumers” is true “in terms of direction” but misleading “in terms of magnitude.” The bigger dangers to our economy are twofold. One, that our trading…

Read the full article here. 

Promising Practices: Labor and Community Fighting Sexual Harassment in the Era of #MeToo

Co-sponsored by The Murphy Institute and The Worker Institute at Cornell, ILR 

An interactive program bringing strategies, resources, and creativity together to create an equity framework for fighting harassment in the workplace and community. Speakers include KC Wagner, The Worker Institute, Cornell ILR, NYC; Jenny DeBower, Center for Anti-Violence Education; Maya Raghu, National Women’s Law Center; Sarah Lyons and Roushaunda Williams, UNITE HERE Local 1, Chicago; Quentin Walcott, CONNECT; Catherine Barnett, ROCU and One Fair Wage; Ana Avendaño, The United Way World Wide. With breakout sessions on Upstander Trainings and Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. 

RSVP here. 

FEMINISM AND THE LABOR MOVEMENT: A Century of Collaboration and Conflict

By Eileen Boris and Annelise Orleck/ New Labor Forum

A century after the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, women have become nearly half of the unionized labor force. They work in the growing service and public employment sectors as nurses, home attendants, teachers, and clerks. Previously labeled women’s issues—maternity leave, equal pay, sexual harassment, and work-family balance—have become union issues. Women hold leadership positions in the AFL-CIO and Change to Win. With the disappearance of manufacturing and the growth of service labor, women of color—both immigrant- and U.S.- born—have become the driving force in the labor movement for safe jobs, living wages, and dignity at work, leading..

Read the full article here. 

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