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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.

Fellows at Work

The Worker Institute at Cornell has begun its third year of the Undergraduate Research Fellows program.

Each semester, fellows work with faculty in small teams on a range of projects in areas including gender equity, precarious work, immigrant workers and young workers in the labor movement.

“The fellowships are designed to provide students the opportunity to receive hands-on experiences in research and contributing to union- and worker-related projects,” said ILR Associate Professor Kate Griffith, who oversees the program.  

“We want them to gain a ground-level understanding of collective representation and issues affecting the low-wage workforce, expanded research skills and a better understanding of potential future career paths.”

This semester, more than 30 Worker Institute student research fellows will work on projects spanning the field of contemporary labor studies.

Projects include “Labor Leading on Climate: A Climate Jobs Program for New York State,” “Men at Work (and Family): Caregiving Responsibilities Among the Working Class” and “Unions and Inequality: An Analysis of First and Second Collective Bargaining Gains.”

“Our mission at the Worker Institute is to engage in research and education on labor issues to improve the lives of working people,” said Professor Ileen DeVault, academic director of The Worker Institute.

“Through the research, both faculty – in Ithaca and New York City – and students are conducting on a wide range of labor issues, these projects will and are playing an important role in helping advance workers’ rights in that respect.”

Some of the hands-on work fellows conduct includes research interviews, contributing to survey efforts, engaging in law and policy research, coding collective bargaining agreements, creating original data sets and assembling literature reviews.

“My experience as a research fellow has been incredibly rewarding,” said Julia Krupski ’17, a returning fellow.

“My piece of advice for underclassmen is to continue with the Worker Institute throughout your ILR career because you can gain so much valuable research experience – both qualitative and quantitative.”

Worker Institute Research Fellows Projects include:

Labor Leading on Climate: A Climate Jobs Program for New York State
Fellows – Sean Alventosa, Erin Killian, Amanda Cort, Alex Ma; Faculty – Lara Skinner

“Men at Work” (and Family): Caregiving Responsibilities Among the Working Class
Fellows – Julia Krupski, Angie Estevez Prada, Nathan Maynard and Lulu Zheng; Faculty – Ileen DeVault, Beth Livingston and KC Wagner

Unions and Inequality: An Analysis of First and Second Collective Bargaining Gains
Fellows – Katy Habr, Candice Johnson; Faculty – Kate Bronfenbrenner

Immigrant Workers Website: A Resource Portal for Organizing Immigrant Workers
Fellows – Gabriella Lifsec, Alexandra Wagner; Faculty – Patricia Campos Medina, Shannon Gleeson, Prerna Sampat and Lowell Turner

The Right to Refuse Work in the Face of Threats to Health or Safety
Fellows – Alison Woody, Stasia Skalbania; Faculty – Jim Gross

Union Communications Services Project
Fellow – Emily Harrington; Faculty – Dania Rajendra

Day Laborers’ Research and Education Project in NYC
Fellow – Anne Zhang; Faculty – Maria Figueroa

Transnational Labor Advocacy & Latino Immigrant Rights
Fellows – Hannah Cho, Amy Saz, Zakiya Williams Wells, Albaro Tutasig; Faculty – Shannon Gleeson

Funding Trends among Non-traditional Worker Organizations (Worker Centers)
Fellow – Jonathan Kim; Faculty – Kate Griffith and Leslie Gates

Arts & Entertainment
Fellow – Rachel Kessler; Faculty – Lois Gray

Global Supply Chains
Fellows – Marc Masson, Sherry Tanious; Faculty – Sarosh Kuruvilla

Local 2300 Oral History
Fellow – Chad Stephenson; Faculty – Cheryl Beredo

Immigration Status and the Nature of Work
Fellow – Vivien Vazquez; Faculty – Shannon Gleeson and Kate Griffith