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The Worker Institute

Advancing worker rights and collective representation

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About

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Mission and Scope

The Worker Institute at Cornell engages in research and education on contemporary labor issues, to generate innovative thinking and solutions to problems related to work, economy and society.  The new Institute brings together researchers, educators and students with practitioners in labor, business and policymaking to confront growing economic and social inequalities, in the interests of working people and their families.  A core value of the Worker Institute is that collective representation and workers' rights are vital to a fair economy, robust democracy and just society.

Here are some examples of our work:

Bargaining for Better Schools – A comprehensive study of labor-management relations in NYS schools, to assess data on the relationship between employment practices such as teacher evaluations and school improvement, and to provide a forum for dialogue among school administrators, union leaders, concerned citizens and policymakers.

National Leadership Initiative
– A collaborative project with the AFL-CIO and other university-based labor education programs to help leaders from unions and non-traditional worker organizations develop the skills and knowledge they need to meet the strategic challenges of the 21st century.

Precarious Workers Research Network – A joint project with networks of non-traditional labor organizations representing day laborers, domestic workers, taxi drivers, retail workers, farmworkers and more.  Through research and forums, this project will explore policy and organizational strategies to address the challenges posed by precarious employment.

Project Sandy: Labor Task Force on New York State's Energy Future
– Hurricane Sandy revealed serious deficiencies in NYS's energy infrastructure – 8 million people lost power.  Through a multi-dimensional research, policy and education initiative, The Worker Institute at Cornell is convening a Labor Task Force on NYS's Energy Future that will promote resilient communities, job creation and effective climate protection.

The Gendered Nature of Care: Caregivers and Responsible Employment
– The need for high-quality, affordable caregiving, for children, veterans, elders and those with special needs, is growing rapidly.  While this employment sector expands, the work remains female dominated, underpaid and undervalued.  The Worker Institute at Cornell is partnering with workers associations, employers, government and other stakeholders to research and develop policy that builds effective community care networks. 

Training and Education :

The Worker Institute builds on a 60-year tradition by the ILR School to help fulfill Cornell’s land grant mission – to assist working people in ensuring their rights on the job and in building effective organizations and strong communities. Our education and training programs, online and in various locations in New York State, are designed to deepen the knowledge and strengthen the skills of workers as well as leaders of unions, worker centers, non-profit and policy organizations.