People at ILR

people / faculty

Lara Skinner

Director, Labor Leading on Climate Initiative
Labor and Unions


Dr. Lara Skinner is the Director of the Worker Institute’s Labor Leading on Climate Program.

Skinner studies the labor and employment impacts of climate protection, clean energy and just transition, and provides training and education programs for unions to help union leaders and members engage in the public debates and decision making around climate protection and clean energy. Skinner, along with Dr. Mijin Cha, authored the 2017 report “Reversing Inequality, Combatting Climate Change: A Climate Jobs Program for New York State.” The Worker Institute also serves as the educational partner to Climate Jobs NY and the Climate Jobs National Resource Center, providing research, education and training programs for unions in multiple U.S. states.

Skinner began her career in labor working with Oregon’s Farmworkers Union (Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste), the University of Oregon Labor Education and Research Center, and as an active member of the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation, Local 3544. Skinner has worked for unions doing campaign research and policy development since 1999.

She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon in 2010.

Outreach Statement

The Labor Leading on Climate Initiative advances knowledge, policies, and practices to enhance the role of labor and working people in addressing the environmental and climate crises. The initiative's efforts focus on building a truly sustainable society and economy.

The initiative also helps workers’ rights advocates to better understand the employment and labor implications of environmental, climate and sustainability issues through a variety of activities:

  • Engages in research and produces scholarly articles and reports

  • Assists with leadership development and strategy design

  • Conducts training sessions and develops training materials

  • Offers technical assistance to unions, worker organizations and policy organizations

  • Offers undergraduate/graduate courses on the intersection of labor-environmental issues

The initiative helps unions, workers’ organizations and other advocates of workers’ rights respond to the following questions:

  • What does the transition to a truly sustainable, low-carbon society and economic model mean for unions, workers and their workplaces, communities and industries?

  • Can environmental sustainability and climate protection policies drive job creation and promote greater equality?

  • What type and how many green or climate jobs are needed in the new low-carbon economy?

  • How can a just transition be achieved that protects and supports workers and communities who are negatively impacted by the transition to a low-carbon economy?

  • What role do labor-environmental alliances have in building an equitable, low-carbon and sustainable society?


Book Chapters

  • Lara Skinner, J. Mijin Cha. 2022. Low-Carbon, High-Speed: How a Green New Deal Can Transform the Transportation Sector. in The Green New Deal and the Future of Work. New York, NY, United States: Columbia University Press, 2022. Craig Calhoun and Benjamin Y. Fong. (384)
  • Lara Skinner. 2020. Building a Pro-Worker, Pro-Union Climate Movement. in Labor in the Time of Trump. Ithaca, NY, United States: Cornell University ILR Press, 2020. Edited by Jasmine Kerrissey, Eve Weinbaum, Clare Hammonds, Tom Juravich and Dan Clawson. (270)

Honors and Awards

  • The 2022 New York State Labor Power 100, City & State New York. 2022
  • 2021 Movement Builders Award, Alliance for a Greater New York. 2021
  • The 2021 New York State Labor Power 100, City & State New York. 2021