The Fight for Workers Rights
New York City has long been known as a Union Town. While nationwide 10.5% of American workers are union members, here in New York State membership tops 22%. In addition to the ongoing work of New York’s unions, a host of alternative organizations, known as “alt-labor” groups have grown dramatically in number and size over the last few years. Alt-labor organizations share the aim of improving workers’ lives and often collaborate with “traditional” unions to advocate on behalf of labor. Join Ed Ott, former Executive Director of the New York City Central Labor Council with 50 years of experience in the labor movement, for a conversation with New York City’s leading alt-labor activists, Bhairavi Desai of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, Allison Julien of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and Michelle Miller of Coworker.org about recent gains (and setbacks) in their movements for labor protections for the workers who make this city run.
About the Speakers:
Bhairavi Desai is the founder and executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA). Born in Gujarat, India, she founded the NYTWA in 1998, which now represents more than 21,000 city taxi drivers. Desai previously worked at Manavi, the South Asian women's organization in New Jersey that worked with victims of domestic violence.
Allison Julien is a founding member of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA). For over a decade Julien organized domestic workers in NYC. She was part of the founding of NDWA in 2007 and was a key leader in the six-year campaign for the New York Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, that resulted in a successful, historic passage in 2010.
Michelle Miller is the co-founder of Coworker.org, a platform for worker voice. Coworker.org has catalyzed the growth of global employee networks who’ve won paid parental leave at Netflix, scheduling reform at Starbucks, and changes to Google’s code of conduct. In 2015, Miller was proud to join President Barack Obama as co-moderator of the first ever digital Town Hall on Worker Voice.
Ed Ott (moderator) has 50 years of experience in the labor movement. He formerly served as Executive Director of the New York City Central Labor Council, which represents 1.3 million trade unionists. Ott began his career as a union organizer, served as a local union officer, and later as the political director for several large labor organizations.
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