Grant Recipients

Eric Thomas Bailey, Undergraduate Student

Eric Bailey

Rewired: How Technology Affects Workers’ Perceptions of Precarity and Conflict

While it's acknowledged that the increasing use of new technologies (e.g., additive manufacturing, artificial intelligence, etc.) can impact workplace precarity, it's unclear whether workers feel supplemented or supplanted as a result. Consequently, this research addresses an important gap that exists in current workplace precarity literature by exploring how new technologies increase workers’ perceptions of precarity and conflict. Using targeted surveying, this study will collect data determining the degree to which workers perceive their level of job security and conflict in the manufacturing and service sectors. Accordingly, this study will provide empirical evidence of how new workplace technologies alter the lived experiences of the ‘employees who remain,’ with key implications for how workers view levels of competition and even their own performance in the workplace.

Linda Barrington and Esta Bigler, Extension Faculty

Linda Barrington and Esta Bigler

Job Applicants and Employer Use of RAP Sheets: Sizing the “Garbage Out”

Technology has simplified and reduced dramatically the cost of job-applicant background checks. It has not necessarily improved the accuracy of Records of Arrests and Prosecutions (RAP sheets). Data records have always suffered from “garbage in, garbage out.” Little is known, however, about the number or severity of RAP sheet errors. The ease with which records are now accessible online has increased the reach of “garbage out”. ILR’s original Criminal Record Panel Survey research project is obtaining data on error frequency in criminal records and employment-related insight from those with criminal records. Proposal funding will support a grad student’s work with an interdisciplinary faculty and extension team in exploring these data and creating illustrative graphics. In addition, qualitative data will be sought on the history of employers’ use of background checks, building better understanding of how technology-enhanced access to records has changed employer practices and employment opportunities.

Brigid Beachler and Tamara Ingram, Staff

Brigid Beachler and Tamara Ingram

Using Technology as an Innovative Tool to Assess Student Learning and Engagement

Our proposal seeks to use digital badges as a mechanism to officially recognize the skills and competencies students gain by pursuing off-campus experiences such as Study Abroad or Credit Internship. We also hope to utilize this technology to encourage students to intentionally pursue activities and opportunities that will result in deeper and more meaningful, personal, professional, academic, and cultural engagement. In the initial phase of this project, we intend to create badges that will focus on two core competencies: Career Development and Intercultural Learning. We also strive to build a community among students who are participating in the Digital Badging Program, and we hope that through their participation, students will develop deeper connections with their host community and/or professional organization. Finally, we believe this program will foster student well-being, provide opportunities for students to identify and build on their strengths, and enhance personal meaning.

Susanne Bruyere, Faculty

Susanne Bruyere

Art, Social Entrepreneurship and Disability: Technology Applications to Afford Voice and Vocation to Gun Violence Survivors on Roosevelt Island

Gun violence forever alters the life trajectories of impacted communities and survivors. A cohort of such survivors, Black and Latino men with spinal cord injuries, reside at Coler Hospital on Roosevelt Island, near the Cornell Tech campus. They are participants in the “Open Doors” arts program (https://opendoorsnyc.org/ ) designed to support survivors with a forum to bring their “voices” on gun violence issues to the NYC community of at-risk youth and to engage other SCI gun violence survivors in this advocacy effort. This project brings an array of Cornell resources (ILR School, Cornell Tech, Computer & Information Sciences, Arts & Sciences, Center for Transformative Action faculty) to create an OPEN DOORS Digital Media Lab at Coler to facilitate greater public audience penetration and promotion of the Open Doors artists and their gun violence advocacy work. They will invite youth groups and people living with SCIs to Coler to engage with creative tools and production processes, and become proficient in using digital media for social justice.

Cross-disciplinary teams of Cornell undergraduate students will learn the value of social media/digital tools to give “voice” and access to under-represented populations.

Mary Catt and Joan Roberts, Staff

Mary Catt

Technology and Workplace Wellbeing

Grant recipients will partner with ILR Human Resources, the ILR Staff Association and with the ILR Conference Center to host a breakfast event to learn, and consider, how technology is re-shaping our work experiences. Guest speaker Kerry Howell, M.S., ACSM CEP, ACSM/ACS CET, head of the Cornell University Wellness Program, will present information to ILR staff on how technology allows for workers to be continually linked to the workplace, and what that means. Community members will engage to share information and reflection on the adverse and positive effects of technology. Howell will share statistics and lead discussions of fitness, mindfulness, self-control and empowerment of the new tools available. The audience will contemplate how they might best harness technology to make it beneficial to them and to ensure worker wellbeing.

Jaylexia Clark, Undergraduate Student

Jaylexia Clark

Fireside Chat: Labor Edition

Labor advocates from Our Walmart, UnionBase, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will be asked to speak about the ways in which advancements in technology have created new obstacles to the labor movement and how their work with digital strategies have helped to overcome said obstacles. Students will have time to ask the panelists questions and network with the panelists during the reception immediately following the panel. This program is designed for students interested in advancing workers’ rights.

Lillien Ellis, PhD Student

Lillien Ellis

Is it Worse to Steal Money or Ideas? Implications for Threat, Harm & Organizational Behavior

As the knowledge economy continues to grow in this age of rapid technological change, the value and vulnerability of creative ideas to theft has become increasingly salient. A recent survey shows that 29% of employees report having had an idea stolen from a colleague, at least once (Forbes, 2016). While the consequences of theft for organizations have been well-studied (e.g. Greenberg, 2002), traditional theft research converges on the theft of money and supplies. The present research extends this area of research by considering the harmfulness of idea theft in the workplace, while using money theft as a baseline for comparison. In other words, does it cause more harm to steal money or ideas?

Maria Figueroa, Extension Faculty

Maria Figueroa

Impact of Digital Hiring Platforms on New York State Workers and Communities

This research project will examine the extent and impact of work performed through mobile phone applications and web-based platforms to provide goods and services in a wide range of sectors, such as passenger transportation (ride-hailing) and hospitality. The research will focus on New York State, with the goal of deepening the understanding of the effects of these new technologies on the workforce, the legal framework for labor and employment relations, and the economy of local communities. This study will contribute to the debate on the impacts of the digital economy on the world of work, by examining questions such as: Are app-based workers employees or independent contractors? Do digital workers enjoy increased flexibility, or suffer increased income insecurity? Who is responsible for the workplace safety of app workers? The data will be collected through the 2019 Cornell Empire State Poll, and a report will be issued in June 2019.

Shannon Gleeson

Shannon Gleeson

Labor’s Digital Activism for Immigrant Rights

This research examines the labor movement’s digital activism in responding to the volatile immigration policy landscape in the United States. Through an analysis of social media in key unions, I will explore three key questions 1) How have various US labor unions varied in their approach to championing – or limiting -- immigrant rights, 2) What narrative frames have each of these labor constituencies use to advance and justify these positions?, and 3) To what extent is the labor movement’s immigration platform engaging an explicitly intersectional lens that declares solidarity with Black, Muslim and LGBT workers, for example. To do so, I will engage ILR undergraduates in compiling a database of social media posts, and interviewing labor leaders about their organization’s digital activism strategy in support of immigrant rights. These findings will bridge resident research with ILR extension and inform pedagogy for my ILR writing seminar on Immigrant Worker Organizing.

Yana Kalmyka, Undergraduate Student

Yana Kalmyka

Hackathon for an Equity-Based Matching Algorithm

In New York City, the system that matches middle school applicants to high schools has been complicit in maintaining one of the most segregated school districts in the country. The matching process has contributed to the systematic disenfranchising of Black and Latinx youth through use of racist and classist admissions metrics against the backdrop of a neutral matching algorithm. In Weapons of Math Destruction, Cathy O’Neil points out that in creating a model, or an algorithm, “we make choices about what’s important enough to include,” and therefore “models, despite their reputation for impartiality, reflect goals and ideology.” In New York City, our choices have spoken volumes about our goals, as two public schools in the same neighborhood can have drastically different outcomes and barriers to access, with lower-income, Black, and Latinx students most often being segregated in schools that do not have the resources to adequately serve their needs. Based on a high school student-designed prototype for a matching algorithm that weighs traditional metrics by demographic factors, I plan to host a Hackathon where coding experts, policymakers, and education stakeholders will come together to develop this prototype into a fully-functioning algorithm that can serve all 300,000 of New York City’s high school students.

Garfield Maitland, Undergraduate Student

Garfield Maitland

Blockchain Technology’s Effect on Worker Economic Wellbeing

Imagine a future of work where society operates on the distributed, decentralized, peer to peer technology of blockchain technology. What effect would this societal shift have on the economic well-being of workers? Since the first bitcoin block was fined by Satoshi Nakamoto on January 3rd 2009 at 10:15am, the fintech industry has experienced an explosion of change in worker industrial and labor relations. In the years that followed, blockchain technology has innovated healthcare, supply chain, finance, and telecommunication. These industries collectively employ over 70 million of the United States workforce and the technology thus has a significant effect on over 25% of the American labor force both in aggregate and individually. With future applications in both artificial intelligence and quantum computing on the horizon, it is important to determine the improved or worsened effect blockchain technology has on worker economic wellbeing.

David Maniloff, Undergraduate Student

David Maniloff

Biased Decision Making in Sports: The Human Eye vs. Algorithms

Our world is rapidly moving towards mass automation. Technology has given organizations the opportunity to create new models aimed at improving the efficiency and success of business. Yet, what if these models were flawed? What if engrained in these models is systematic bias inhibiting organizations from making the right decisions? Looking at this issue through the lens of professional sports, the proposed studies will examine the biases that exist in our society and whether these biases are temporary, such that, through training and knowledge, individuals can reduce their susceptibility to relying on biased information.

Joseph Mesfin, Graduate Student

Joseph Mesfin, Graduate Student

Managing Content Moderators: Bridging Current Practices with Research

Who are the gatekeepers of the internet and how can firms manage them more effectively? Tech companies, scholars, and journalists alike have recently focused their attention on the practice of “content moderation,” an emerging form of labor that consists primarily of sifting through the comments, pictures, and other media posted by users to ensure their compliance with community policies and standards. As the volume of information exchanged online continues to rise, firms are hiring a growing number of workers to perform this task. As such, it will become increasingly important for both HR practitioners and scholars to learn more about these employees and the nature of their day-to-day work. The theme project provides a great opportunity for the ILR School to enter the conversation surrounding this new form of labor and learn more about best practices for managing content moderators. The proposed panel event aims to bridge perspectives from industry and academia as a way to educate the ILR community on the trends and issues associated with managing this new workforce.

William Sonnenstuhl, Faculty; Lillien Ellis, PhD Student; and Andrew Young, Helen Barna, Juliet Remi, Lindsey Fuchs, and Ryan McCurry, Undergraduate Students

William Sonnenstuhl and Lillien Ellis

Abandoning the “Lone” to Save the Inventor: Collective Action and Idea Ownership in an Age of Unprecedented Technological Growth

The present research is a multi-method study of how institutional changes to idea ownership and protection mechanisms influence creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurial behaviors. As rates of technological growth skyrocket, corporations like Google and Apple exercise their growing influence over US innovation policies. In 2013, the US passed its first major revision to the patent system in over 50 years, making innovation an easier and more lucrative process for some- the technology giants- and virtually impossible for others- independent inventors. This research is a cross-level collaboration of ILR faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, exploring how major structural changes to intellectual property ownership and protection policies in the United States incite collective action and influence innovation and entrepreneurial activities within the independent inventor community. Undergraduate students also contributing to this project are Andrew Young, Helen Barna, Juliet Remi, Lindsey Fuchs and Ryan McCurry.

Kristin Szczepaniec, Staff

Kristin Szczepaniec

Technology for the Public Good: Labor Market Analysis of the Social Sector in Western New York

The future of labor markets is evolving to include an ever-increasing portion economy—the social sector, non-profits, with over 1.4 million NGOs in the United States, employ over 11.4 million Americans, and public service employment with over 22 million employed or elected into federal, state, or local positions. Utilizing big data AI that analyzes real-time job postings, this study will (1) project job openings and salaries in the Western New York economy and (2) reveal what skills are needed for success in the social sector. How can technology be utilized to understand this sector and what tech skills are needed to be successful in it? Collaborating with Workforce Development Institute and Burning Glass technologies, this timely, specific, micro-level information about demand and training will elucidate how WNY can support the future of work. We will use this information to host community conversations on supporting worker success in these fields.

Eitan Jacob Wolf, Undergraduate Student

Eitan Jacob Wolf

Seeing Labor Through New Eyes: Discussing the Implementation and Outcomes of Augmented Reality for the Workforce

Augmented Reality (or AR) is changing the face of work itself. With the widespread proliferation of smart devices and recent pushes for development by such companies as Google and Apple, AR applications (which combine generated images on top of the user’s real-world view) have already been implemented by companies to reconfigure employee training, redesign business plans, and increase efficiency and productivity. As the technology develops further it is almost a guaranteed fact that AR will be ingrained in every workplace, at least to some degree. By inviting three speakers from companies which have already begun to incorporate AR into their workplace, this panel project aims to expose students to cutting-edge technology applications and show how every facet of labor could be affected by these new innovations. More so, a reception afterwards with the speakers, students, and faculty would encourage students to engage more fully with the topic and better understand the evolution of technology and work.