Inequality Research Funded

Impact of unionization on low-wage workers will be studied
Kate Bronfenbrenner
Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Kate Bronfenbrenner, director of Labor Education Research at ILR, has received a $45,000 grant to fund a project named “Harvest of Struggle: Tracking Inequality through First Contract Gains for Low-Wage Workers.”

Announced today by the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, the grant funds analysis of first contracts to quantify gains such as benefits, rights and pay for organized low-wage workers, specifically women and minorities.

Many of the gains being researched are non-economic gains such as anti-discrimination language, grievance rights and notice for scheduling changes.

Working with at least nine ILR undergraduates, including three in the Hunter R. Rawlings III Cornell Presidential Research Scholars Program, Bronfenbrenner plans to use a database of collective bargaining agreements to provide a broader view of unionization benefits that fully capture human capital implications.

The project focuses on women, workers of color and low-wage workers. Most contemporary research on unions and labor market outcomes does not capture data for these individuals, Bronfenbrenner said.

Low-wage workers are disproportionately at the bottom of the income scale, and account for a significant share of the growth in income inequality; understanding the diverse consequences of organizing and collective bargaining may provide insights into how and why inequality has grown, she said.

The Washington Center for Equitable Growth, which seeks to build a stronger bridge between academics and policymakers, today announced that 24 grantees won funding for projects analyzing whether and how structural changes in the U.S. economy affect economic growth.

Equitable Growth awarded a total of $784,000 in grants for 2015, with an additional $49,800 in co-funding from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.