Book Launch: New Labor in New York

An event to celebrate the publication of
New Labor in New York: Precarious Workers and the Future of the Labor Movement

Edited by Ruth Milkman and Ed Ott (Cornell University Press, 2014)

With chapters authored by current and former CUNY graduate students: Benjamin Becker, Marnie Brady, Jeffrey D. Broxmeyer, Kathleen Dunn, Mischa Gaus, Harmony Goldberg, Peter Ikeler, Martha W. King, Jane McAlevey, Stephen McFarland, Susan McQuade, Erin Michaels, Ben Shapiro, and Lynne Turner.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Sociology Lounge Rm 6112, CUNY GC

Books will be available for sale and signing, and refreshments will be served.

Please RSVP here:

Milkman-Cover, 2Final

This event is sponsored by the Immigration Seminar Series, the Sociology Ph.D. Program, the Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies (School of Professional Studies), and the Center for Place, Culture and Politics of the CUNY Graduate School and University Center.

New York City boasts a higher rate of unionization than any other major U.S. city—roughly double the national average—but the city’s unions have suffered steady and relentless decline, especially in the private sector. With higher levels of income inequality than any other large city in the nation, New York today is home to a large and growing “precariat”: workers with little or no employment security who are often excluded from the basic legal protections that unions struggled for and won in the twentieth century.

Community-based organizations and worker centers have developed the most promising approach to organizing the new precariat and to addressing the crisis facing the labor movement. Home to some of the nation’s very first worker centers, New York City today has the single largest concentration of these organizations in the United States, yet until now no one has documented their efforts.

New Labor in New York includes thirteen fine-grained case studies of recent campaigns by worker centers and unions, each of which is based on original research and participant observation. Some of the campaigns documented here involve taxi drivers, street vendors, and domestic workers, as well as middle-strata freelancers, all of whom are excluded from basic employment laws. Other cases focus on supermarket, retail, and restaurant workers, who are nominally covered by such laws but who often experience wage theft and other legal violations; still other campaigns are not restricted to a single occupation or industry. This book offers a richly detailed portrait of the new labor movement in New York City, as well as several recent efforts to expand that movement from the local to the national scale.

Ruth Milkman is Professor of Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center and Academic Director of CUNY’s Murphy Labor Institute. She is the author of several books, including the prizewinning Gender at Work and L.A. Story: Immigrant Workers and the Future of the U.S. Labor Movement. She is the coauthor of Unfinished Business, editor of Organizing Immigrants, and coeditor of New Labor in New York: Precarious Workers and the Future of the Labor Movement, Rebuilding Labor, and Working for Justice, all from Cornell.

Ed Ott is Distinguished Lecturer at CUNY’s Murphy Labor Institute. He spent over forty years in the labor movement, most recently as Executive Director of the New York City Central Labor Council.

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