Podcast by CUNY SLU
Episode 33 - "Sunbelt Blues: The Failure of American Housing"
This episode offers a discussion of Andrew Ross’ recent book, Sunbelt Blues: The Failure of American Housing. Ross shares his firsthand account of the burgeoning and largely overlooked housing emergency in our nation’s suburban and rural hinterlands. Reporting from Florida’s Osceola County, he describes families and people of all ages who cram themselves into dilapidated motels or literally pitch their tents in the woods. Adding to these dire circumstances, the people Ross comes to know find themselves also reckoning with psychological trauma, poverty, and nihilism. This compelling interview also examines the causes of the housing catastrophe and suggests what it will take to end it.
Episode 32 - The Future We Need: Organizing for a Better Democracy in the Twenty-First Century
Journalist Laura Flanders speaks with Erica Smiley and Sarita Gupta, the authors of The Future We Need, Organizing for a Better Democracy in the 21st Century. The book and this conversation explore the great democratizing power of collective bargaining, with potential applications even beyond the workplace in the yet mostly untried realms of housing, public safety, education, healthcare, and environmental justice, to name just a few. In this moment of national democratic peril and the upsurge in worker organizing, these bold new ideas hold both special urgency and possibility.
Episode 31 - "100 Percent Democracy"
Commentators far and wide have been sounding the alarm for American democracy. The question of who can vote and who ends up voting is central to this democratic crisis. In a landscape of defensive battles to protect the right to vote and herculean efforts to turn out the vote, comes a new book: 100% Democracy: The Case for Universal Voting. Written by Miles Rapoport and E.J. Dionne, the book makes an assertive argument that voting should be mandatory in the U.S., as it already is in 26 countries around the world. With SLU’s Heather McGhee, author Miles Rapoport discusses the case for requisite voting and its likely implications.
Episode 30 - Fueling Financialization: Organized Labor, Pension Funds, & Worker Power
In 2021 the pension assets of U.S. workers stood at 35 trillion dollars and amounted to fully 62 percent of all global pension assets. For almost half a century, this money has fueled the growth of the asset management sector, the likes of BlackRock, Vanguard, and Fidelity Investments to name only a few. New Labor Forum author Benjamin Braun casts a critical eye on the investment practices of collectively bargained Taft-Hartley pension funds which have contributed so significantly to the rise of a bloated financial sector. He also discusses efforts to redirect labor’s capital to the benefit of workers and to investment in public goods projects, such as infrastructure and renewable energy.
Episode 29 - Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India
In this episode, we turn to India’s two-millennia-old caste system that has often been compared to our own structures of racial oppression. A recent book, Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India, provides a sort of memoir of caste viewed through the experiences author Sujatha Gidla’s Dalit family. Speaking with New Labor Forum Editor-at-Large Kafui Attoh, Gidla says she drew motivation and courage to write this personal account by witnessing individual and collective acts of resistance of African Americans. A resident of the U.S. since age 26, Gidla completed the writing of the book while working as a New York City train conductor and member of Local 100 of the Transit Workers Union.
Episode 28 - Reimagining Elder Care: Workers & the 'Care Grid' in an Aging Nation
Nearly alone among industrialized nations, the U.S. leaves the elderly, the infirm, and their loved ones to fend for themselves in the complex tangle of what passes for a system of elder and long-term care. Our speakers describe the human toll of this for-profit system that is simultaneously unaffordable for those who need care and unsustainable for the low-wage workers who provide it. As social justice visionaries, our speakers also outline bold policy solutions currently being advanced by coalitions that are reimagining elder and long-term care.