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New Labor in New York: Precarious Workers and the Future of the Labor Movement (Hardback)
  • New Labor in New York: Precarious Workers and the Future of the Labor Movement (Hardback)

New Labor in New York: Precarious Workers and the Future of the Labor Movement (Hardback)

Hardback 368 Pages / Published: 07/03/2014
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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.Contributors: Benjamin Becker, CUNY Graduate Center; Marnie Brady, CUNY Graduate Center; Jeffrey D. Broxmeyer; CUNY Graduate Center; Kathleen Dunn; Loyola University; United Food and Commercial Workers Local 2013; Harmony Goldberg; CUNY Graduate Center; Peter Ikeler, SUNY College at Old Westbury; Martha W. King, CUNY Graduate Center; Jane McAlevey, CUNY Graduate Center; CUNY Graduate Center; Susan McQuade, CUNY Graduate Center and New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health; Erin Michaels, CUNY Graduate Center; Ruth Milkman, CUNY Graduate Center and Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies, CUNY School of Professional Studies; Ed Ott, Murphy Institute, CUNY School of Professional Studies; Ben Shapiro, New York Communities for Change; Lynne Turner, Murphy Institute, CUNY School of Professional Studies.

Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 9780801452833
Number of pages: 368
Weight: 539 g
Dimensions: 235 x 156 x 27 mm


"The volume is written for a broader audience, and so it does not belong only on the bookshelves of academics; it should be given to any labor, community, or immigrant rights activist. Not only describing success stories but also laying out many of the successful failures (p. 84) as well as challenges the organizations face, enhances our understanding of how to move forward.... The contributors to this volume offer a glimpse into what goes on berhind the scenes in the life of your street vendor, your super-market cashier, your domestic worker, your restaurant cook, or your Broadway artist."

-- Maite Tapia * ILR Review *

"While grounded in New York City, the book contains many important lessons for labour activists and academics beyond the five boroughs and makes a valuable contribution to the growing literature on organizing the precariat and especially to scholarship on worker centres and other models of community unionism.... ReadingNew Labor in New Yorkit became clear that from [the] cross-fertilization of resources and ideas, tactics and strategies, experiences and wisdom, that a powerful, transformative labour movement can grow."

-- Simon Black * Labour/Le Travail *

"New Labor in New York is a must-read for anyone who cares about the future of workers in the twenty-first century. It documents some of the most inspiring recent organizing efforts in the nation's premier global city, offering richly detailed analysis of their achievements as well as their limits. Ruth Milkman and Ed Ott have compiled a set of provocative case studies of union campaigns, worker centers, and other community-based organizing that teach valuable lessons relevant not only to New York City but also the nation. This book will help to guide our efforts in the years to come as we forge new ways to represent workers in the face of an unrelentingly hostile twenty-first-century economic order that has scuttled many basic labor protections that took decades to attain. This volume casts a wide net, capturing the struggles of immigrants and U.S.-born workers, low-wage workers and those more fortunate, as they confront the new realities of precarious work."

-- Richard L. Trumka, President, AFL-CIO

"A fundamental text for anyone interested in the future of the labor movement, New Labor in New York offers honest and insightful analysis of key organizations and campaigns at the forefront of labor organizing today, many of which are profiled here for the first time. As the labor movement continues to grapple with the new challenges of the twenty-first century, the case studies in this volume will offer both inspiration and valuable lessons."

-- Jennifer Gordon, Fordham University School of Law

"This book testifies to the collective organizations emerging to represent the precariat, and the progressive energies driving them. They are the harbinger of new collective action, and bodies like them must be strengthened everywhere. The precariat is new. For the first time in history workers with education are expected to do labor and work in conditions that previously only the uneducated were expected to accept, and they are typically exploited off as well as on conventional workplaces. Above all, the precariat seeks a different future from what the proletariat sought, and unions must wake up to its needs."

-- Guy Standing, University of London

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