The Newest Americans: Stories For Social Change


Julie Winokur and Tim Raphael look to return to the honest and powerful storytelling that our country was built upon with their platform, The Newest Americans. This means amplifying the voices and stories of immigrant communities that make up so much of American identity. With a nuance and precision aimed to cut through the deafening noise of the current media landscape, The Newest Americans, offers a fresh perspective on powerful storytelling with the goal of social change.

Me Too: A Local Union Movement


Abby Lawlor is a strategic researcher at Unite Here Local 8 in Seattle, which represents about 5,000 workers in the hospitality industries of Oregon and Washington State. The organization, mostly consisting of women workers, boasts a diverse membership and includes workers from many immigrant communities. In the interview below, Lawlor details Local 8's #MeToo campaign, which has fought against sexual harassment and assault in hotel industry since 2016.

The Fair Food Program: Fighting for Equality for Farm Workers


The Fair Food Program (FFP) is worker-driven social responsibility program that aims to combat the exploitative conditions faced by farmworkers in several states. This post aims to provide background to the development of the FFP as well as a summary of its many facets. It also includes a link to a full report by the Fair Food Standards Council. 

Uncertain Futures: A Defeat for New York's Farm Workers


In a decision handed down by the Albany Supreme Court on Jan 3rd, 2018, a 2016 lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Crispin Hernandez was dismissed. The decision upheld a provision in the New York State Employment Relations Act (SERA) that exempts agricultural workers from the right to organize and collectively bargain. This post will serve as a review of the history and the implications of this decision.

Fighting the Farm Act: An Interview with Catherine Crowe


Catherine Crowe is an organizer and communications representative for the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC). In this interview, she details the campaign against the North Carolina Farm Act of 2017, which aimed to illegalize crucial union functions. In addition to discussing the details and implications of the law, she also discusses some of the goals of the union moving forward.

Unions Mobilize in Wake of Hurricane Maria


Eduardo Rosario is the New York City Chapter President of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, he also works as an administrative coordinator for The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union (ASCME) local 375 and DC 37. In the interview below he details the relief efforts orchestrated by NYC unions in the wake of Hurricane Maria. He elaborates on the unique space that the labor movement occupies in society, which allows the movement to position itself as a catalyst for larger efforts of social justice and community solidarity beyond the workplace.

Archived Posts

Leading Ithaca as a Sanctuary City: An Interview with Mayor Svante Myrick

Mayor Svante Myrick speaks at rally for José Guzman-Lopez, who was remanded to U.S. Marshals’ custody on Friday. Hundreds protested his arrest by ICE agents earlier this month in Ithaca. Protestors hold banner reading "ICE OUT OF ITHACA" [Cameron Pollack]

Mayor Svante Myrick, who has been in office since 2012 and attended Cornell University as an undergraduate student, led Ithaca in its Sanctuary City movement, and has continued to enforce and uphold this sanctuary status as the city fights against policies of the current Federal Administration. His collaboration with local organizations, along with his recent feature in Time Magazine on millennial politicians, demonstrate Mayor Myrick's dedication to Ithaca and his ability to inspire and relate to a generation that is on the frontlines of political action.

The Hidden Migrant Workforce: Comparing the Canadian and U.S. Temporary Foreign Worker Visa Programs


With increased confusion surrounding guest worker visas, and recent changes in visa numbers under the Trump Administration, the Cornell Law School decided to host a colloquium to discuss the current state of Temporary Foreign Worker Visa program in both the U.S. and Canada. These meeting brough together academics and advocates to address this topic and discuss strategies for moving forward.

Marine Le Pen, Islamophobia, and the polarization of French society

By Lorie Shaull from Washington, United States (French Election: Celebrations at The Louvre, Paris) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Lowell Turner, professor of International and Comparative Labor at the ILR School, shares his insights on the momentous French election that saw both the defeat of the far-right National Front (FN) and the further normalization of xenophobic, racist and anti-democratic fringe of French politics. Turner examines how the far-right opportunistically manipulated popular anger over economic inequality and fanned the flames of Islamophobia to drive a deep polarization of French society.

Immigrants & Workers of Color Organize for #FreedomCities


The author of this guest post, Daniel Carrillo, is Executive Director of Enlace, a cross-border, multiracial coalition of low-wage worker centers, unions and community organizations in the U.S. and Mexico. They discuss the launch of Freedom Cities and tactics used by members of the New York Worker Center Federation to fight back against Trump's racist and anti-immigrant policies.

Civilian Action Stops Mass Deportation Charter Flight for First Time in UK History


In the wake of anti-immigrant sentiment in the UK, hope is still alive. Late last month, UK citizens successfully stopped the departure of a mass deportation charter flight carrying immigrants from Ghana and Nigeria. Many are asylum seekers who were on their way to wrongful deportation until civilian action halted this “immoral, unfair, and illegal” effort.

Expanding Sanctuary: Mijente Report on Sanctuary Cities and Policies


Mijente recently released “Expanding Sanctuary: What Makes a City a Sanctuary Now,” a report on the history and current status of sanctuary cities - and what steps could be taken to expand the concept of sanctuary beyond the status quo. The important resource includes specific policy priorities and recommendations for establishing and expanding sanctuary.

Labor and Allies Force Puzder Withdrawal

Puzder withdrew his nomination as Labor Secretary in the face of massive, organized protest by labor and its allies. This article explores labor’s reactions to Puzder’s withdrawal and the reasons for mobilization against his nomination. 

Cornell University DREAM Team: An Interview with Miguel Martinez


This interview with Cornell student Miguel Martinez describes the actions and objectives of the Cornell University DREAM Team and its advocacy efforts on behalf of undocumented students. Miguel discusses some of the DREAM Team’s efforts, including an ally training program to expand awareness and promote understanding about undocumented students on campus.

Freedom University: An Interview with Pamela Voekel


Freedom University, based in Athens, Georgia, was established in 2011 as an outlet for undocumented students to receive education and training that is not otherwise readily available to them. Freedom University provides services such as tuition free courses and assistance with scholarships and college applications. The following interview was conducted with Pamela Voekel, one of the founders of Freedom University, and provides greater insight into the university’s mission and inspiration.

With Whom Will We Stand?

Subway Therapy: New Yorkers respond to the election at Union Square

In the wake of the presidential election, immigrant communities have been thrust into a state of fear and uncertainty over what is to come in a new Trump administration. Shannon Gleeson, Associate Professor of Labor Relations, Law and History, shares her perspectives on the need for solidarity in response to these attacks.

Nation of Emigrants: An Interview with Susan Coutin

Detention Center

Susan Coutin is a professor of Criminology, Law and Society and Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine. Her most recent books Exiled Home: Transnational Youth in the Aftermath of Violence and Nations Of Emigrants: Shifting Boundaries Of Citizenship In El Salvador And The United States explore legal and sociocultural issues faced by immigrants and refugees from El Salvador.

Protecting Workers Outside of the NLRA: Interview and Comments by Barbara Young


Barbara Young is a National Organizer for the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA). She spoke at “Pushing the Boundaries,” a panel at the Worker Institute’s Advancing Worker Rights Conference, and was interviewed afterwards about her work with the NDWA and the methods they use to serve domestic workers.

From the Cornell Organization for Labor Action to Clinton’s Labor Advisory Committee on Trade: An Interview with Patricia Campos-Medina


Patricia Campos-Medina is the Co-Director of the Union Leadership Institute at Cornell & Extension Associate for The Worker Institute. She speaks about her history with the labor movement, from observing the struggles of her immigrant parents to giving input on the impact of trade agreements.

The Essential Ones: The New York Workers Center Federation


Daniel Carrillo is the Executive Director of ENLACE, a cross-border, multiracial coalition of low-wage worker centers, unions and community organizations in the U.S. and Mexico. He describes the powerful alliances of the New York Worker Center Federation and the Collective Resilience Organizing model they use to address issues facing low-wage and immigrant workers. 

An Interview with SEIU’s Lina Bracero on Mobilizing the Marginalized Population to Engage in the Political Process

Lina Bracero

Lina Bracero discusses her work within the labor movement, both in the political sphere and in healthcare. She explains the strategies she has employed in her multiple union positions and how she works to create solidarity in the movement and inspire union members to make their voices heard through politics.

Familias Unidas por la Justicia: Boycotting Berries to Protect Farmworkers

Union members protest in solidarity with farmworkers

Dean Shelton is the 10th District Representative of the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters. In this piece, he gives an overview of Familias Unidas por la Justicia’s fight to improve the living and working conditions of farmworkers in Washington, detailing how this group has turned a local fight into a national boycott.

An Interview with NDWA's Jennifer Bernard on Domestic Workers' Fight for Rights and Recognition


Jennifer Bernard is a member of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and was one of the panelists at Union Days 2016 at Cornell University. In her interview, Ms. Bernard spoke about the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights and the new website her organization recently launched to help undocumented workers adjust their status.

Tefere Gebre: The New Labor Movement Must Lead the Fight for Immigration Reform

Tefere Gebre, Union Days keynote speaker

Tefere Gebre is the Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO. Tefere, born in Gondar, Ethiopia, was a political refugee and immigrated to the United States as a teenager. Don Bazley, Senior Multimedia Producer at ILR, and Prerna Sampat, Communications and Website Manager at The Worker Institute, interviewed Tefere at the Cornell campus in April, prior to his keynote speech at Union Days 2015.

The Economic Effects of Granting Legal Status and Citizenship to Undocumented Immigrants

CHART: The nature and timing of immigration reform matters

ILR Alum Patrick Oakford at The Center for American Progress published this paper demonstrating how permitting the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants to earn the privilege of citizenship will significantly expand economic growth, boost incomes, create jobs, and increase tax revenues.