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On the left, we often ask what will “save the labor movement,” but how much do we know about the day-to-day work of building labor power at the community level? A new book dives into the emerging grassroots initiatives aimed at organizing New York City’s low-wage workers. In New Labor in New York, editors Ruth Milkman and Ed Ott of the City University of New York present critical analyses of thirteen worker centers and labor groups focused on the new “precariat”: traditionally non-union sectors like street vendors, domestic workers, struggling freelance “creatives,” and restaurant workers. We speak to Milkman about what these case studies tell us about the future of labor and the work of revolutionizing communities from the bottom up.
This week’s news roundup covers the struggle for justice for pregnant workers at Walmart, the politics of equal pay in Washington, a campaign to stop invasive credit checks in employment decisions, and a backhanded attempt to exclude people from healthcare by redefining the workweek. We end with a look at the labor politics surrounding the porn website Kink.com and the dilemma of solidarity and social mobility in a racially segregated world.
Sarah Jaffe and Josh Eidelson: Whose Walmart? (Belabored Podcast #10)
Conversation with Ruth Milkman
Ruth Milkman and Ed Ott, New Labor in New York: Precarious Workers and the Future of the Labor Movement (Cornell, 2014)
Argh, I Wish I’d Written That!
Michelle: Jamelle Bouie, “Down and Out: The single fact that powerfully explains why black Americans have such a hard time climbing the economic ladder,” Slate and Richard Sherman, “Stardom Doesn’t Change Where You’re From,” SI.com