After decades of decline, the labor movement in the United States is on the rise again as workers turn to collective action to address workplace concerns and stagnant wages in the face of inflation. On the evening of Monday, October 24, a group of prominent labor and academic leaders will gather at Dineen Hall for a Lenders’ Center conversation exploring the 21st century labor movement and the ongoing struggle for workplace dignity and democracy.
The event, “Labour’s Revival: Unions and the Struggle for Racial and Economic Justice,” is organized by the Lender Center for Social Justice and will be led by the center’s co-director Gretchen Purser, associate professor of sociology at Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.
The dialogue begins at 4 p.m. with a panel discussion in Dineen’s Melanie Gray ceremonial courtroom featuring some of the best-known names in the revitalized labor movement, including Amazon union president Chris Smalls, organizer from Starbucks Workers United Jaz Brisack and Johnnie Kallas, director of the Labor Action Tracker at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.
Following the panel, a reception with refreshments and presentations by local organizations will take place in Dineen’s atrium. At 6:45 p.m., a keynote address will be delivered by Erica Smiley, executive director of Jobs With Justice and co-author, with Sarita Gupta, of “The Future We Need: Organizing for a Better Democracy in the Twenty-First Century.” “Smiley is a longtime organizer and movement leader who has spearheaded strategic organizing and policy interventions for nearly 15 years.
“We are at a critical moment in history and in the midst of a striking rebirth of workers’ power,” says Purser, whose areas of expertise include the sociology of work and labor, urban poverty, law and justice. punishment, housing and homelessness. “What is fueling the renewed interest in trade unions? What challenges do workers face when trying to organize the workplace? What are the opportunities and limitations of our existing labor legislation? »
She says this year’s Lenders’ Center Conversation will seek to answer these questions and more, exploring the present and future of the labor movement as well as the centrality of collective bargaining to a functioning democracy.
“As a faculty member whose research and teaching is centered on work and work, I am thrilled to see an event like this taking place on campus,” Purser said. “I’m especially excited about the opportunity it provides to bring together diverse campus constituencies and the wider Syracuse community.”
Marvin Lender ’63 and his wife, Helaine Gold Lender ’65, established the Lender Interdisciplinary Center for Social Justice to fulfill their enduring mission of developing courageous, ethical citizens who engage in social justice practices. The center aspires to foster proactive, innovative and interdisciplinary approaches to issues related to social justice, equity and inclusion. It is co-directed by James Haywood Rolling Jr., dual professor of arts education and teaching and leadership at the College of Visual and Performing Arts and the School of Education, and Purser.