“New Labor in New York” is the title of both this Sunday’s platform and a book edited by our speaker Ruth Milkman and her colleague Ed Ott of the City University of New York. Dr. Milkman will discuss recent grassroots initiatives aimed at organizing New York City’s low-wage and immigrant workers. Her book includes critical analyses of thirteen worker centers, unions, and community-based campaigns focused on the new “precariat.” Some organize in traditionally non-union sectors like street vending, domestic work, and freelance “creative”fields; others focus on grocery store, retail and restaurant workers. These case studies help us understand the future prospects of labor in the context of New York’s growing inequality, and the work of revolutionizing communities from the bottom up.
Ruth Milkman is a sociologist of labor and labor movements who has written on a variety of topics involving work and organized labor in the United States, past and present. Recently she has written extensively about low-wage immigrant workers in the U.S., analyzing their employment conditions as well as the dynamics of immigrant labor organizing. She helped lead a multi-city team that produced a widely publicized 2009 study documenting the prevalence of wage theft and violations of other workplace laws in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. She is currently a Professor of Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center and at the Joseph F. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies, where she also serves as Academic Director.