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Posts in Business & Labor
Bad Faith: Teachers, Liberalism, and the Origins of McCarthyism

Bad Faith: Teachers, Liberalism, and the Origins of McCarthyism

Reviewed by Clarence Taylor

For decades, pundits, conservative writers, and political officials have obscured the political and ideological differences between liberals, democratic socialists and communists. It is quite common for both rightwing Republicans and those in the mainstream media to label liberals as the “far Left,” in order to imply their ideas pose a danger to the country. In the 1988 presidential election, for example, George H. W. Bush called his Democratic opponent, Governor Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts, a “card-carrying member of the American Civil Liberties Union,” equating membership in the ACLU with membership in the Communist Party. Several Republicans and members of the Tea Party have accused former President Barack Obama of being a “socialist.” President Donald Trump has labeled Democrats as “radicals” who have adopted a “far-left agenda.”

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City of Workers, City of Struggle

City of Workers, City of Struggle

By Andy Battle

“City of Workers, City of Struggle.” Since its founding, New York has been emphatically both. A new exhibit with this name, up at the Museum of the City of New York until January, communicates the ways in which the shape of the present city — physical, economic, social, and cultural — has been given to us by the cumulative struggles of its workers for material well-being, autonomy, and a dignified life. The main goal, according to lead curator Steven H. Jaffe, is to communicate “just how intertwined the rise of modern New York City is with working people and their movements.”

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When Long Island City Was the Next Big Thing

When Long Island City Was the Next Big Thing

By Ilana Teitel

For about a hundred days this winter, Long Island City was in the spotlight as a neighborhood about to be transformed. Amazon was coming, the national media was running articles about the 7 train, and brokers were selling condos via text messages. The word was out about this patch of western Queens and its waterfront views, central location, cultural diversity, and overtaxed infrastructure.

And then, on Valentine’s Day, it was over. Amazon pulled out and locals began to debate whether that much change would have been good or bad for LIC. But, this wasn’t the first time that Long Island City was the neighborhood that almost, maybe, soon, was about to take off. Here’s a look at three other times that LIC was briefly New York’s Next Big Thing.

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History Museums and Capitalism: The Need for Critical Conversations

History Museums and Capitalism: The Need for Critical Conversations

By Andrew Urban

In November, 2018, the Public Historian published a review that I wrote of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum’s newest tour: Under One Roof. The tour interprets the lives of three families who lived in the tenement at 103 Orchard Street — which was acquired by the museum in 2007 — from the 1940s up until the recent past. Addressing post-World War II immigration and migration to the Lower East Side, the educators leading the tours that I took did an excellent job highlighting how Americans have frequently been reluctant to welcome the world’s “huddled masses,” national myths notwithstanding.

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On the Hot Seat: An Interview with John Garvey of the Taxi Rank & File Coalition

On the Hot Seat: An Interview with John Garvey of the Taxi Rank & File Coalition

John Garvey is a Brooklyn native and lifelong New York City resident. During the 1970s, he was a leading activist in the Taxi Rank & File Coalition, a group of radical cab drivers determined to fight their bosses and a union leadership they perceived as corrupt and ineffective. Later in life, John worked as an educator in New York City jails and headed the Teacher Academy and Collaborative Programs at the City University of New York, where, among other things, he was instrumental in establishing the CUNY Prep program, which offers out-of-school youth a pathway to college. ​He is an editor of Insurgent Notes, of Hard Crackers: Chronicles of Everyday Life, and was an editor of Race Traitor, a journal that published between 1993 and 2005 whose motto was “treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity.”

This interview, conducted by Gotham's Andy Battle, has been condensed and edited for clarity.

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How Do We Mourn Publicly? Memorialization and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

How Do We Mourn Publicly?: Memorialization and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

By Kim Dramer

Around the turn of the 20th century, the shirtwaist, a type of blouse, was the choice of fashionable New York women. Stylish women in shirtwaists embellished by intricate tucks and lace inserts cut an elegant figure on the streets of New York. But the ample cut of the shirtwaist also gave the freedom of movement required by women who toiled in the city’s sweatshops where the shirtwaists were cut, sewn and trimmed. Across lower Manhattan, garment factories sprang up in which row after row of young women sat behind sewing machines. In their pursuit of the American dream, they toiled long hours for low wages, enduring dangerous working conditions. At the turn of the 20th century, there were more than 500 blouse factories in New York City, employing upwards of 40,000 workers.[1]

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One Hundred Years of Equity Strikes and Labor Solidarity

One Hundred Years of Equity Strikes and Labor Solidarity

By Caroline Propersi-Grossman

In August 1919, following months of stalled negotiations, the New York City section of Actors’ Equity Association (Equity) called a strike against The Producing Managers Association, a trade group composed of theater owners and producers including the Shubert, Ziegfield, and Belasco theater owners. Equity’s demands were modest. The strike called for a standardized eight-show work week with additional compensation for extra matinee performances and higher wages for chorus performers. The Producing Managers Association responded by refusing to recognize Equity, filing injunctions against individual actors, and occasionally attempting to open negotiations with the actors’ union on a theater-by-theater basis.

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Notes on the LaGuardia Community College Amazon Teach-In

Notes on the LaGuardia Community College Amazon Teach-In

By Molly Rosner

On November 13, 2018, Amazon announced that Long Island City would become the site for its new headquarters “HQ2” along with a site in Crystal City, Virginia. Since then, New Yorkers have greeted this announcement with both applause and outrage. Throughout the year, Amazon has received bids from cities and towns across the country trying to entice the trillion-dollar company to their area. But after the gimmicks and tax incentives have all been weighed, it feels clear that New York was always high on the list of places the company was considering.

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Cut-Throat: The Murder of William Lurye

Cut-Throat: The Murder of William Lurye

By Andy Battle

On an average day at midcentury, New York City’s Garment District was a chaotic welter of sewing, schlepping, and schmoozing. But on May 12, 1949, the streets went silent for William Lurye, an organizer for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU), the 400,000-strong body representing workers in the women’s clothing trade. Three days earlier, Lurye had been shoved into in a telephone booth in the lobby of a building on West Thirty-Fifth Street that housed dozens of loft-style garment factories. There, two assailants had stabbed the thirty-seven year-old father of four in the neck with an icepick.

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"The New York Curb Market… Which has No Organization Whatever”: The Enclosure of New York’s Last Outdoor Stock Market, 1900-1921

"The New York Curb Market… Which has No Organization Whatever”: The Enclosure of New York’s Last Outdoor Stock Market, 1900-1921

By Ann Daly

Visitors to the New York Curb Market, located on the Broad Street sidewalk, also called “the gorge,” found themselves overwhelmed by the noise and frenzy. Hundreds of men on the street “writhed, leaped, swayed.” In New York’s last outdoor stock market, where orders were communicated by yelling or signaling out a window and anyone with lungs could trade, financial journalist Edwin C. Hill claimed in 1920, “some of those whirling dervishes down the street could borrow a million on their moral credit; for others the jail beckons.”

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