Perspectives: What’s There to Celebrate on Labor Day

Jonathan Harris is a Brooklyn based labor lawyer and former organizer “Most holidays we celebrate ain’t nothing but scams and lies and tricks and all the real meaning be lost/For me it’s time-and-a-half or just another day off ”  from “Holiday Pay” by rapper Tahir, 2001 (Raptivism) Many workers today think that unions are not for them.  They may tell you that an older relative was in a union at…

September 1, 2013

Labor’s Renaissance: Bold Organizing and Partnerships Needed in the New Economy

From Dissent Magazine In 2011, Wisconsin public sector workers demonstrated to fight changes to their state collective bargaining laws, and upwards of 100,000 workers assembled on the state capitol.  Rightly, the workers saw this change by Governor Walker as an effort to bust unions, given that union density in the private sector had decreased to 7%, but in the public sector it is at 35%.  Pitting public sector unions against the…

August 28, 2013

Perspectives: Worker Centers and the AFL-CIO National Convention

Victor Narro is the Project Director for the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education, and a lecturer at UCLA Law School and UCLA School of Urban Planning. On September 8, the AFL-CIO will kick off its national convention in Los Angeles.  The last time it was held in L.A. was in 1999, when the AFL-CIO announced its historic declaration for a legalization program for all undocumented immigrants, increased workplace…

August 21, 2013

Perspectives: The First Immigration Public Defender System: New York City 2013

Professor Mark Noferi teaches a Civil Rights and Immigration Seminar at Brooklyn Law School, as well as legal writing. On Friday, July 19, the New York City Council allocated $500,000 towards the “nation’s first public defender system for immigrants facing deportation,” as the New York Times described it.  $500,000 may seem small.  But New York’s pilot project shows that immigration appointed counsel is achievable, politically, financially, and logistically.  More importantly, the New…

August 1, 2013

Perspectives: Pass Immigration Reform or Forfeit the Immigrant Vote

On this Fourth of July, 11 million undocumented immigrants –Americans –wait with eagerness as the Senate bill S. 744, also known as the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 passed by a vote of 68-32 on June 27, 2013.  Over 300 amendments had been introduced since May 7, 2013. Fourteen Republicans voted to support immigration reform including John McCain, Mark Rubio and Lindsey Graham.  The stakes…

July 1, 2013

Aftermath of the Rana Plaza Tragedy: Social and Health Issues Emerge Amid Struggle for Workers’ Rights

Two months after the Rana Plaza building collapse in Savar, Bangladesh on April 24, where over a thousand workers died and countless others were injured, families who lost a loved one or workers who were seriously injured face obstacles in obtaining compensation for lost wages, adequate health care for issues related to their injuries, and counseling for severe post-traumatic stress from the tragedy.  It is hard to imagine the full…

June 24, 2013

Perspectives: Let Our Diversity Define Us – The New America

According to the 2010 Census, ‘minorities’ in the United States now represent more than half of the US population under the age of 1.  Latinos, African Americans and Asian Americans are on track to become the majority of this country’s population by 2050, they currently make up 37 % of the US population.  Yet 95% of the US Senate is white, as is 81% of the House of Representatives.  Our…

May 31, 2013

Perspectives: Civil Rights as Labor Rights

On this May Day, an internationally recognized workers’ day, we are reminded that thousands of American workers continue to face discrimination on the job each year based on a protected status, such as race, gender or religion, despite a patchwork of existing state and federal anti-discrimination laws. In recent years, for example, nearly 100,000 workers have filed discrimination claims annually with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), and about…

May 1, 2013

Crushing Greed; Building Transnational Labor Solidarity

“The hierarchy of poverty has deadly consequences.” Born during Bangladesh’s war for independence, our home was bombed and I survived as the family tale goes cocooned by the rubbles of concrete and iron bars. Soon after, in December 1971, Bangladesh gained its independence.  Intertwined with the genesis of Bangladesh, I grew up on a steady narrative of survival stories from political unrest, floods, and garment factory tragedies. Bangladeshis would repeat…

April 27, 2013

Perpetual Trespasser

To be in the margin is to be part of the whole but outside of the main body.       We looked both from the outside in and from the inside out.                                    We understood both.  This mode of seeing reminded us of the existence of a whole universe, a main body made up…

February 26, 2013