Examining big issues

Undergraduates advancing Worker Institute research
Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Faculty and graduate students are not the only ones conducting meaningful world-of-work research at ILR.

The Worker Institute at Cornell is currently starting its second year of the Undergraduate Research Fellows program. Through the program, undergraduates have the chance to build research skills and make substantive contributions to ongoing research projects while working closely with faculty on the Ithaca campus and Worker Institute associates in New York City and Rochester.

Kate Griffith, who oversees this program, says that it “integrates many facets of ILR by connecting students’ educational experience with the research and extension missions of the school.”

This fall, 25 undergraduate research fellows and several Master of Industrial and Labor Relations students (MILRs) are engaging in projects focused on major worker-related issues facing New York state and the world.

Research projects include analyzing the first and second contract bargaining gains of unions, and examining the impact of immigration status on workers’ willingness to come forward when they experience wage violations or safety risks in the workplace.
Students conduct interviews, contribute to survey efforts, engage in law and policy research, code collective bargaining agreements, create original datasets and put together comprehensive literature reviews.

 “I have gained a wealth of legal and policy research experience on a current issue [enforcement of wage protections for ‘tipped workers’] that is central to local and national economic equality strides,” said Undergraduate Research Fellow Deanna Hall ’15. “I have also increased my exposure to ILR faculty and staff, allowing me to create valuable relationships within the school.”

The Worker Institute Fall 2015 research teams (PDF, 185 KB)