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…

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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…

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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…

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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. http://www.brooklaw.edu/faculty/directory/facultymember/biography.aspx?id=mark.noferi 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…

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Eggplant and the Constitutional Right to Health and a Balanced Ecology

Pamphlet to Farmers from ABSP-II funded by USAID Imagine if people living in the United States could petition the courts on the grounds that they have a constitutional right to their individual health and a balanced and healthy ecology.  Imagine if companies were required to demonstrate with full scientific certainty that any product entering into the market for human consumption is free from harmful consequences or food produced would not…

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Perspectives: Zimmerman Acquitted; Racism Found Guilty

Ahmad Abuznaid is an attorney in Florida, and the Legal & Policy Director for The Dream Defenders, a non-profit organization intent on ending the systemic criminalization of communities of color. Contrary to the weather report, there’s no sun shining in the sunshine state today.  One of our own has been gunned down and brushed to the side by those who were sworn to protect him.  We have witnessed a jury of…

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Florida’s Strange Fruit

I hear you when you say don’t be surprised by the acquittal of George Zimmerman. With the lingering stench of racism, even the enlightened of us can begin to forget that our criminal legal system is rotten at its core.   Desmond Meade, President of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition reminds us of the pungency of Florida’s Jim Crow atmosphere. We are all lulled by the sweet scent that a trial…

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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…

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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…

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