Skip to main content
Cornell University mobile logo

Worker Institute Blog

The Worker Institute brings together researchers, educators and students with practitioners in labor, business and policymaking to address issues related to confronting systemic inequality and building a fair economy, robust democracy and just society. We will share opinion, analysis, research, data, insights and training from our faculty and staff.

Worker Institute is hosting a national conference, Labor in the 21st Century: Challenges and Opportunities

Worker with a mask in a restaurant

On March 26th, as part of the 75th anniversary celebrations for the School of Industrial Labor Relations, the Worker Institute is hosting a conference focused on Labor in the 21st Century Challenges and Opportunities: A Worker-Centered Economic Recovery. The Lois Gray Labor Innovation Initiative is sponsoring the national conference to explore the challenges and opportunities labor faces in the coming year. Academics, activists, and educators are invited to explore how labor has transformed in the 21st century by recent years of economic stressors, global pandemics, and rising inequality. 

The conference will feature three concurrent main panels, the first exploring the means for a worker-centered economic recovery. This panel will focus on critical initiatives needed to launch a Worker Centered Economic Recovery. Speakers include Rosemary Batt, Alice Hanson Cook Professor of Women and Work at the ILR School, Lisa Donner, Executive Director, Americans for Financial Reform, Rick Levy, President, Texas AFL-CIO, and Doug Moore, Executive Director of the United Domestic Workers of America. 

The second panel will focus on a changing legal and regulatory environment, and will discuss some of the most pressing legislative and regulatory issues for workers and their organizations. Speakers include Ruben Garcia, Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Workplace Law Program, University of Nevada, Matt Ginsburg, Associate General Counsel, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), Kate Griffith, Jean McKelvey-Alice Grant Professor at the ILR School, and Wilma Liebman, Past Chairman, National Labor Relations Board. 

The final concurrent panel will focus on a contested political terrain and will discuss how labor might relate to the political moment, employing both an inside strategy to advance a progressive platform and an outside strategy to build power and pressure to drive a pro-worker agenda. Speakers include Tamara Lee, Assistant Professor, Rutgers University, Bob Master, Legislative and Political Director, Communications Workers of America in the Northeast, and Nia Winston, General Vice President, UNITE HERE. 

Other speakers include Alexander Colvin, Dean, Cornell ILR School, Esta Bigler, Director of NYC Government Relations, Director of Cornell University ILR’s Labor and Employment Law Program, Cornell ILR School, and Patricia Campos-Medina, Executive Director, The Worker Institute. 

The opening plenary will feature E Tammy Kim, Freelance Journalist, Mary Kay Henry, Labor Union Activist, International President International Union (SEIU), and Rebecca Dixon, Executive Director, The National Employment Law Project (NELP).

The closing plenary will feature Ariel Avgar, Associate Dean for Outreach and Associate Professor, Cornell ILR School, Elizabeth Shuler, Secretary-Treasurer, AFL-CIO, and Erica Smiley, Executive Director, Jobs With Justice. 

Learn more and register HERE.