Rhomberg

Chris Rhomberg

Professor of Sociology, Fordham University

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About Chris

Rhomberg’s research and teaching at Fordham focuses on labor and urban community in the United States and in historical and contemporary contexts. He has studied how social movements interact with urban politics, how seemingly non-ideological “civic” issues can articulate group identities like race, how law has increasingly constrained workers’ rights to act collectively, and how labor conflicts at the workplace can extend out into the local community. 

Rhomberg currently serves on an advisory board for the Puffin Foundation, a progressive philanthropic foundation that supports the arts, journalism and democratic citizenship, and serves as an active member of the National Writers Union. In addition, Rhomberg teaches service-integrated courses in which students complete internships with community organizations in the Bronx, including the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, Sistas and Brothas United (a youth organizing project of the NWBCCC), and Community Action for Safe Apartments (CASA), a tenants organizing group.

In the News

Chris Rhomberg quoted on building up solidarity so they could pressure the master contractor and say, ‘You’ve got to put enough money out there so that your subcontractors can pay a decent wage by Caitlin Harrington, "Some Amazon Drivers Have Had Enough. Can They Unionize?" Wired, March 19, 2021.
"Are Labor Strikes Staging a Comeback?," Chris Rhomberg, Essay, Zocalo Public Square, October 26, 2018.
Chris Rhomberg quoted by Jacquie Lee, "Union Membership Decline Doesn’t Explain Drastic Drop in Strikes" Bloomberg News, November 27, 2017.
Chris Rhomberg quoted on family businesses passing into new hands and relationships with unions suffering because owner-employee connections often don’t run as deep by Teke Wiggin, "Meet the Mom-and-Pop Company That Went from Union-Friendly to Union-Busting" In These Times, June 27, 2017.
Chris Rhomberg quoted by Harold Pierce, "CSU Strike Mostly Symbolic, but Shouldn't Be Taken Lightly" Bakersfield.com, September 12, 2016.
Chris Rhomberg's research on Detroit Free Press strikes discussed by Craig LeMoult, "Boston Globe Delivery Fiasco May Be Bad, But It Could Be a Lot Worse," WGBH News, January 5, 2016.
"A Turning Point for Chinese Workers?," Chris Rhomberg, In These Times, April 2, 2015.
Chris Rhomberg quoted on post-recession pay raises, "TJX Follows Wal-Mart Minimum Wage Hike: Will Retail Industry Fall in Line?" Christian Science Monitor, February 27, 2015.
"We Forgot to End Poverty," Chris Rhomberg, In These Times, December 25, 2014.
Chris Rhomberg's research on urban development in Oakland discussed by Claire Zillman, "Is This City the Next Brooklyn? It'd Rather Not Be.," Fortune, October 17, 2014.
Chris Rhomberg's research on wage protests discussed by Joseph Pisani, "Fast-Food Protesters Cuffed at Higher Pay Rallies," Associated Press, September 5, 2014.
Guest to discuss his research on WGN-AM 720, Chris Rhomberg, September 11, 2012.
Guest to discuss job strikes on National Public Radio, Chris Rhomberg, September 10, 2012.
"America Would Be Better Off With More Strikes," Chris Rhomberg, CNN, September 10, 2012.
Guest to discuss his research on WCSX-FM 94.7, WMGC-FM 105.1, and WRIF-FM 101, Chris Rhomberg, August 26, 2012.

Publications

"15 and a Union”: Searching for Workers’ Power in the Fight for $15 Movement" in No One Size Fits All: Worker Organization, Policy, and Movement for a New Economic Age, edited by Janice Fine, Linda Burnham, Katti Griffith, Minsun Ji, Victor Narro And Steven Pitts (Cornell University Press, 2018), 251 - 270 .

Shows that vibrant, creative experimentation has never ceased. In lieu of new federal regulation, public and private sector national unions and local affiliates have been actively trying out new approaches that pair organizing with mechanisms that support bargaining.

"Work and Workers in the United States: A Historic Turning Point" The Nouvelle Revue du Travail 19 (Forthcoming November 2021).

Discusses a historic turning point for workers in the United States.

"Precarization and Labor Resistance: Canada, the USA, India and China" (with Jenny Chan and Manjusha Nair). Critical Sociology 45, no. 4 (2019).

Examines ways that workers have struggled with and against precarious labor in different contexts, from low-wage retail and service workers in Canada and the USA, to manufacturing and construction workers in India and China. Shows that the role of the state has been crucial in shaping the terrain of struggle at the workplace and in the wider community.

"The Struggle for a New Labor Regime: The U.S" Tempo Social (Sao Paolo, Brazil) 32, no. 1 (2020): 99-118.

Discusses a conservative political offensive against unions and initiatives of non-federal and local movement. Mentions conflicts intensifying during the Trump administration, as a resurgence of political activity and the polarization of institutions that govern or work on civil life.

"Understanding Strikes in the 21ST Century: Perspectives from the United States" (with Steven Lopez). Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change 44 (2021): 37-62.

Reviews the historical strengths and limits of traditions of strike theory in the United States. Builds on the emerging power resources approach. Proposes a model based on a multidimensional view of associational power, power resources, and arenas of conflict in the economy, state, and civil society.  Demonstrates the utility of our approach via a case analysis of strikes in the “Fight for $15” campaign in the United States.

"The Runaway Production Complex? The Film Industry as a Driver of Urban Economic Revitalization in the United States" (with Heather Gautney). City and Community 14, no. 3 (2015): 262-285.

Analyzes the rush to attract “creative” industries in American cities that overlooks the challenges to building the infrastructure and workforce development for urban cultural industries, the threat of “low-road” conditions for creative workers, and the importance of labor market regulation for successful growth.

The Broken Table: The Detroit Newspaper Strike and the State of American Labor (Russell Sage Foundation, 2012).

Analyzes a detailed study of one of the largest and longest strikes of the last several decades in the U.S. Discusses the forces leading to the breakdown of collective bargaining, the spread of labor conflict beyond the firm and into the community, and the transformation of the strike from an economic tactic and protected legal right to a more high-risk protest in defense of the principle of unionism.

"The Return of Judicial Repression: What Has Happened to the Strike?" The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics 10, no. 1 (2012): 1540-8884.

Analysis of how public policy and the evolution of labor law have undermined the right to strike in the U.S., leading to a return to a pre-New Deal era of what historians describe as the “judicial repression” of workers’ rights to organize and act collectively. 

"Class, Race and Urban Politics: The 1920s Ku Klux Klan Movement in the United States" Political Power and Social Theory 17 (2005): 3-34.

Analyzes the 1920s Ku Klux Klan movement in several cities in the Northern and Western U.S., in order to explain its surprising short-term political success and its long-term impact on the making of a white American middle class.

No There There: Race, Class and Political Community in Oakland (University of California Press, 2004).

Traces the legacy of three successive yet radically different protest waves in Oakland, California, in the 20th century: the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s, labor insurgency culminating in a general strike in the '40s, and the civil rights and black power movements of the '60s.