Advancing Worker Rights

Worker Institute hosting conference on contemporary labor issues
Advancing Worker Rights Conference (April 17 - 18)
Wednesday, March 11, 2015

On the 80th anniversary of the National Labor Relations Act, with worker rights increasingly constrained, The Worker Institute at Cornell is turning to some of the most innovative thinkers and leaders in the world of labor to address the pressing question: where do we go from here?

This is the theme of the Advancing Worker Rights conference, hosted by the Worker Institute that will be held April 17-18 in New York City.

Attendees will hear and interact with some of the most visionary practitioners and scholars in the world of work, organizers said. The object of the event is to spark a lively discussion that brings creative solutions to challenges faced by labor to light, they continued.

“The conference presents a unique opportunity to create a sort of symposium around the most pressing challenges and innovative solutions shaping the present and future of the labor movement,” said James Gross, professor of Labor Relations, Law, and History at ILR and conference chair.  

“We have assembled leading labor activists, policymakers, labor lawyers and academics to address contemporary labor themes, including prospects for reforms, especially to enhance collective and individual rights of workers covered by or excluded from the act.”

The signing of the National Labor Relations Act in 1935 was a watershed moment for workers and the American labor movement. It established a legal framework to govern union recognition, collective bargaining and collective action. Most importantly, it guaranteed the rights of workers to organize.

At the same time, many workers were excluded from protections through the act from the start. Over the years, the law was reinterpreted and amended, further restricting categories of workers covered by its protections.

The Worker Institute engages in research and education on contemporary labor issues, to generate innovative thinking and solutions to problems related to work, economy and society. Along with the conference marking the 80th anniversary of the National Labor Relations Act, it is also celebrating the 70th anniversary of the ILR School and the 150th anniversary of Cornell University this year.

To learn more about the Advancing Worker Rights conference, visit to view the conference agenda and speakers lists.