People at ILR

people / faculty

Lara Skinner

Executive Director, The Worker Institute at Cornell
Chair, Labor Leading on Climate Initiative
Labor and Unions


Lara Skinner is Executive Director of The Worker Institute at Cornell and Chair of the institute’s Labor Leading on Climate Initiative. Her research, writing and labor education work focuses on workers’ and labor unions’ engagement in issues of sustainability, climate protection, and economic alternatives. She received her PhD from the University of Oregon in 2010 and 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.

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?