When Workers Fight Back

In the past few years, I’ve been noticing a lot more workers winning higher wages and new labor laws. This includes the Fight for $15 workers here in the US, and also large bumps in minimum wages in places like Indonesia, Slovenia, the UK, and China. Some countries have been reregulating labor markets to give protections to temporary and precarious workers. Others, like Chile, have reformed their labor law. I have been traveling around the world to learn more: are these real victories? Are the laws being implemented? How are workers winning?

Annelise Orleck, a historian whose work I have long admired, had noticed the same thing. Workers around the world are fighting back, and, in many cases, winning, Her new book, We Are All Fast-Food Workers Now”: The Global Uprising against Poverty Wages”  tells these stories. She interviewed 140 workers: in Bangladesh and South Africa and Cambodia; in the United States and the Philippines and Morocco — berry pickers, garment workers, small farmers, fast-food workers, adjunct professors, airport workers, home health care aides.

I interviewed Annelise about her book for Jacobin.


The Future of Capitalism and the Future of Work

Please join us for a one-day conference.

Friday, May 4th
9:30am – 6:30pm
The Murphy Institute
25 W. 43rd St., New York, NY

In recent years, structural changes in the labor market, skyrocketing inequality, and rapid technological innovation have sparked renewed debate and speculation about the future of capitalism and the future of work itself.  This conference features leading scholars, journalists and activists’ perspectives on these issues.

The day is structured to engage three key debates:

  • The impact of technological innovation, especially robots and artificial intelligence, on workers and on the labor market
  • The vast increase in capacity for surveillance and data collection by high-tech firms and its implications for daily life as well as for the workplace
  • The  impact of the ecological crisis and the political failure to address it for the future of capitalism and the future of work.

The conference has three panels, each devoted to one of these debates.  Each panel includes one keynote presentation from an expert on the topic, comments from two respondents, followed by discussion with the audience. See the full schedule here.

The conference is free and open to the public.  A light breakfast and lunch will be provided, and there will be a reception at the close of the proceedings.

Co-sponsored by: The Joseph S. Murphy Institute’s Labor Studies Program, City University of New York & The NYC Chapter of the Scholars Strategy Network

Call for Papers

Submit a paper for a conference on the theme of “Austerity Against Democracy: Work, Welfare and the Remaking of Global Capitalism.” The conference will be held at the University of Bologna, Italy, June 11-13, 2018. Proposals are due December 31. A selection of papers from the conference will be considered as part of a special issue publication of Alternate Routes. More information available here.

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Book Party and Discussion

Please join us for a discussion and book party for The City is the Factory:New Solidarities and Spatial Strategies in an Urban Age, on November 3, 6 to 8 pm at the Murphy Institute.

The book is co-edited by Miriam Greenberg and Penny Lewis. Contributors will be joined by local organizers to discuss today’s urban-based struggles for change. What are the new kinds of organizing that we’re seeing emerging in cities today? What challenges do they face, what potential do they have?