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Ithaca Co-Lab

Ithaca Cornell Campus at dusk
We mobilize the students and researchers at Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations to serve Ithaca and the surrounding region. We use these resources to tackle the challenges of fighting unemployment, winning a living wage and organizing for worker voice.

The Fight Against Unemployment: Advocacy and Policy

Job search ad in newspaper

Cornell students are learning all about unemployment with ILR professor Ian Greer in his course titled The Fight Against Unemployment: Advocacy and Policy being offered this fall semester at Cornell University.

Since March 2020 and around the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, American workers have become unemployed at an unprecedented rate, and the federal government has made far-reaching reforms to unemployment benefits. The class covers a range of timely and pressing topics such as:

  •     What does it mean for an individual to be unemployed and how is unemployment measured?
  •     How does the government support unemployed people in the US, through cash benefits and workforce development services?
  •     How does unemployment damage individual workers and communities?
  •     What can unions and management do to avoid or manage layoffs?
  •     What can the US learn from other countries to better combat unemployment and reduce its socially damaging effects?
  •     Why is unemployment so persistent in capitalist societies?

Beyond the class discussion of books, articles and films, students have opportunities to engage with the community. They are working with attorneys at Legal Assistance of Western New York to assist unemployed people experiencing legal problems. Some are also working with the Tompkins County Workforce Development Board to improve workforce planning while others are conducting independent research with the Greer. Students will meet policymakers, activists and researchers whose work affects the lives of unemployed people throughout the semester.

Please check back soon for student engagement project highlights.