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2014 LERA: Interview with John August, Associate Director, first time LERA attendee

Written by John August (first-time LERA attendee)

What is the focus of the panel on which you are speaking?

I am a participant on the panel Researchers and Practitioners Examine Invisible Costs of Work. The panel is focused on the “hidden costs” in enterprises and how to expose and eliminate them. I think this is a very exciting panel from the world of academic research and union practitioners who will describe how missed or unknown costs can be eradicated through alternative approaches. For example, one of the panelists will describe how rhetoric and political demands to reduce costs often lead to more cost because the root causes of the costs are missed.

How does your current work or research connect to this panel?

By encouraging fundamental changes in the labor-management relationship to fully empower the frontline, the only way to root out the 30-50% “hidden cost” of waste in health care is to fully engage the frontline in systems-based root cause analysis and problem solving.

What is significant about this work; how is it relevant to today’s issues in the workplace?

Knowledge is the greatest source of power for all workers in today’s knowledge-based industries, including education, health care and most manufacturing. As has always been the case, workers have all the experience in the workplace to see the root causes of waste, error, and other detractors to quality and productivity. Now more than ever, especially as unions lose power and influence, the mobilization of workers’ knowledge in today’s knowledge based economy can return real power to working people.

How will attending LERA help move your work forward?

This is my first LERA conference and I am interested in being part of a community that can help bring consistent and empowered voices to the frontlines of workplaces. My sense is that LERA contains the largest group of researchers, practitioners, and leaders who can help create this community.

For more informaton on Cornell ILR faculty attending LERA, visit

Posted on: May 8, 2014

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