A “Future of Labor Research Center” has been established at the Rockefeller Institute of Government in Albany by the institute in tandem with SUNY Empire State College.

They have also established a Morton Bahr Future of Labor Research Center Fellowship in memory of the longtime Communications Workers of America president. Rockefeller Institute Director of Fiscal Studies Laura Schultz will run the center, veteran journalist Liz Farmer will serve as a Labor Research Center Fellow, and the center’s co-chairs will be Sharon Szymanski from SUNY Empire’s School of Labor and Jason Russell from SUNY’s School of Graduate Studies.

According to a Sept. 18 statement, the center will conduct in-depth research on how new technologies, market trends and public policies will affect work, workers and unions. Researchers will also focus on addressing wage inequities, under-employment, new training and educational needs.

State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento said, “As we achievement advancements in worker-related technologies, it’s imperative that we ensure workers’ rights and benefits are not undermined by misclassification and that we protect their right to organize and negotiate their wages, benefits and working conditions now and in the future.”

Empire State College President Jim Malatras noted, “Automation, artificial intelligence and the ‘gig’ economy have limitless potential to improve our lives, but they are having a real impact on our labor force. It’s critical to have research focusing on the future of labor that will help to ensure the Empire State has the best policies to support its residents and to attract the best employers, and the jobs they bring.”

• • •

The strike by nearly 50,000 General Motors workers that began Sept. 15 is riding the momentum of a burst of strike activity that began in early 2018 and produced successes beginning with Teachers in West Virginia and spreading to other states not regarded as hospitable to unions including Oklahoma, Arizona and Kentucky, former New York Times labor reporter Steve Greenhouse wrote in an op-ed article for the paper’s Sept. 18 print edition.

Referring also to the strike this past spring by 30,000 Stop & Shop employees in New England, he wrote, “The public’s favorable opinion of these strikes can be tied to Americans’ widespread dismay with wage stagnation and income inequality, even as corporate profits are flying high. While job numbers and economic growth are strong, many Americans are barely getting by: 40 percent of households say they don’t have the money to pay an unanticipated $400 expense, according to a recent report from the Federal Reserve Board.”

This climate helps account, Mr. Greenhouse continued, for a recent Gallup Poll showing that public approval for unions has reached 64 percent, a 33-percent jump from a decade ago. And, he added, “An M.I.T. study last year found that nearly 50 percent of nonunion workers say they would vote to join a union if they could, up from 32 percent in 1995.”

Mr. Greenhouse concluded by saying that while both GM and the United Auto Workers have taken major hits in size since the 1970s, “with so many workers feeling unfairly squeezed by their employers, and labor leaders emboldened by recent successes, more strikes look likely.”

• • •

Pardon us for expecting consistency from the New York Post, but we’re puzzled that the paper, after early this month decrying a lack of cooperation with police because of a “don’t snitch” street culture, labeled rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine a “stool pigeon” for testifying against Bloods gang members.


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