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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.

WI in the News

How You Win in the South

National Labor Leadership Initiative (NLLI) alum, MaryBe McMillan, President of the North Carolina State AFL-CIO, was interviewed by franknews and Payday Report on organizing and collective bargaining in the South.
Organizers protesting n the south

Biden Gender Policy Council leaders: We must fix the caregiving crisis COVID has created for women

Fortune News
Op-ed in Fortune by the co-chairs of the White House Gender Policy Council cites the Foundations for a Just and Inclusive Recovery report by the Worker Institute.
Women Caregivers

Fighting Back: Apps Kept City Restaurants and Gig Workers Afloat During the Pandemic, But Now They Want More

The Worker Institute's Maria Figueroa speaks to WNYC about how New York City restaurants became heavily reliant on third-party delivery services during the pandemic.
WNYC logo

Could an Alabama Union Election at Amazon Start a Labor Wave?

Worker Institute Executive Director, Dr. Patricia Campos-Medina, is quoted in Nonprofit Quarterly on unionization efforts at Amazon in Alabama.
Union Now Graffitti

Amazon Covid-19 Lawsuit Spotlights State Regulatory Power

Bloomberg Law
OSHA’s existing rules do not equate to a COVID-19 standard, says the Worker Institute's Nellie Brown in Bloomberg News.
NYS Attorney General

Behind the Camera with Tsering Lama: Documenting Domestic Workers Fight for Rights

Profile of New York State AFL-CIO/Cornell Union Leadership Institute (ULI) and WE RISE graduate Tsering Lama on CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies Blog.
Tsering Lama

Food Delivery Apps Are Booming. Their Workers Are Often Struggling.

The New York Times
Maria Figueroa, Worker Institute expert on gig economy is quoted in New York Times on impact of the pandemic on food delivery workers.
Bike Delivery Worker with a Mask

The Ithaca Voice's Guide to Tompkins County school reopening

“Schools are not accustomed to looking at their buildings from the standpoint of communicable disease,” says Nellie Brown, Director of Workplace Health and Safety Programs at the Worker Institute in an interview with the Ithaca Voice.
Ithaca Voice Logo

Returning Workers Still Question Workplace Safety As Pandemic Continues

With more workers making their way back to their jobs, some provided an update about their recent experiences during a joint panel discussion and press event hosted by The Worker Institute and ROC United.
ROC NY Worker in a cafe

Little known unemployment program is helping businesses avoid layoffs

In an effort to prevent layoffs amidst this tumultuous economic situation, many states including New York have embraced a shared work system. Maria Figueroa, Director of Labor and Policy Research at the Cornell ILR School, explained how the system works.
Sign on store saying "Sorry we're closed"

Can schools safely reopen? Cornell University Health and Safety Director weighs in

Local Syracuse News ABC-9
Nellie Brown speaks with Local SYR on the adaptations that schools need to make to reopen safely and the logistical and financial barriers that will entail.
Can Schools Reopen Safely News Story

School Boards Worry About Time, Money When It Comes to Reopening

Nellie Brown speaks with Spectrum News about schools reopening and recommends districts first put together a joint labor-management committee that includes the school nurse, the district’s attorney, the HVAC folks, teachers, staff, and administration.
Capital Tonight News Program

State Guidelines For Reopening Schools Are "A Skeleton" To Be Adapted To Specific Buildings news FOX 40
Nellie Brown speaks with Fox 40 Brown about school reopening, noting school buildings aren't exactly designed with the transmission of communicable diseases in mind and that each building will present its own host of problems.
Fox 40 Coronavirus Coverage

NY’s detailed school rules: Masks, temperature checks, 6-foot distance, sports on hold

Syracuse Post Standard News
Nellie Brown speaks with Syracuse News on the difficulties of opening schools, including pointing out that some of the options that are best for safety, like sending kids for half days so they are spaced out as much as possible, may create burdens for families.
Noah Davis, 4, and his brother Able, 2, were among the children and parents that went to Bellevue Elementary School Tuesday, March 17, 2020 to pick up school lunches and homework as schools are closed in the Syracuse School District due to the coronavirus.N. Scott Trimble

Cuomo studies, malls wait for instructions on air filters

Times Union News
Nellie Brown speaks with the Time Union on the complications of installing HEPA or MERV filters and the need for ventilation fans in large buildings that are powerful enough to circulate air through high-density filters.
Safety signs are seen on the doors at Crossgates Mall.  Lori Van Buren / Times Union

Mall owners, officials angry at Phase 4 delay

Nellie Brown speaks with Newsday on the difficulty of opening shopping malls due to the mindset of shoppers at indoor malls, where people congregate in groups and sit on benches together.
Malls will not be allowed to reopen when the region reaches Phase 4, but large retailers with exterior entrances are operating.  Credit: James Carbone

How will schools enforce social distancing? Baldwinsville superintendent weighs in

Nellie Brown speaks with Central NY News about reopening schools and says that each school must have a customized plan.
Central NY News News Story on Reopening Schools

Occupancy limits and no fitting rooms: Shopping in the COVID-19 era

Nellie Brown tells Newsday that temperature checks on employees will likely be commonplace, even though it is a “coarse screen” that won't pick up asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic infections.
Christine Lyons, left, and Angela Vomero, co-owners of Bella Bridesmaids in Huntington village, will change their protocols when they reopen.

Experts: COVID-19 outbreaks at processing plants affect the whole community

Nellie Brown speaks to CNYCentral about making processing plants safe during the Covid-19 outbreak, "you tend to have people working literally shoulder to shoulder doing their processing. So that makes protecting individuals far more difficult. You're going to have to really look at putting barriers between people."
Nellie Brown speaks with CNYCentral on Covid-19 outbreak in meat processing plants.

Cornell expert follows hierarchy of controls when looking at ways to eliminate COVID-19 from spreading

Nellie Brown speaks with WENY News about the hierarchy of controls and ways to eliminate the virus from coming into the workplace.
Face Mask

Businesses are reopening. If you’re older or sick, what happens to your job?

Los Angeles Times Logo
Nellie Brown speaks to the LA Times about older and vulnerable populations returning to the workplace amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
Federal law provides protections for disabled or older workers, but ultimately they can be recalled to the workplace, even if it can’t be made 100% safe.

Workers have filed 4,775 complaints to OSHA about exposure to Covid-19 on the job.

Nellie Brown, speaking to The Counter, says the threat of OSHA citations, whether in the form of fines or public notice, can motivate employers to make safer workplaces.
Worker with a mask pushes grocery store carts.

As carmakers restart factories, they look at steps to protect workers from COVID-19

Marketplace News
Art Wheaton speaks at Marketplace about precautions that car manufacturers can take, "you may have some staggered start and stop times, you may have people arriving at different intervals or different places and they may have more than one entrance."
Cars in a car factory

Health Experts Say Schools Can Reopen in the Fall — But With Some Big Changes

Nellie Brown speaks with EdSurge on schools reopening and says that Schools will also need to wade through a morass of individual concerns around cafeteria and classroom seating, transportation and, in some cases, retrofitting bathrooms and other facilities.
Students Social Distancing

As Americans Return to Work, How Will COVID Change the Workplace?

Nellie Brown speaks with Health Day News about how companies will take advantage of automation to further protect workers' health -- automatic doors, automatic lighting, automatic water fountains, automatic dispensers for sugar and creamer at the coffee stand.
Worker in an office.

NY, lifeguards wrangle over safety issues as beaches prepare to open

Nellie Brown speaks to Newsday cautioning about the use of PPE for lifeguards on New York beaches, "as always, the equipment needs to be provided, fitting the wearer properly, and properly donned and doffed and decontaminated."
New York Empty Beach

Casos de covid-19 na Casa Branca complicam mensagem de Trump de que é seguro voltar ao trabalho

BBC News
Nellie Brown speaks to BBC Brazil about positive cases of Covid-19 in the White House and challenges for other workplaces.
'Pode acontecer. É o inimigo oculto', disse Trump ao comentar os diagnósticos dos dois funcionários da Casa Branca

How Employers Can Make Workplaces Safe to Open

Nellie Brown speaks to Spectrum News about being realistic about what life will be like as regions reopen, "at first it's going to be awkward and difficult and we're not going to be happy and we’re going to long for the good old days."
Spectrum News Story on Making Workplaces Safer

Nellie Brown Transcript Interview with Don Lemon, CNN

Nellie Brown speaks with Don Lemon live on CNN about what safely reopening businesses will look like and what measures will need to be put in place.
CNN Tonight with Don Lemon

Two White House Coronavirus Cases Raise Question of if Anyone Is Really Safe

The New York Times
Nellie Brown speaks to the New York Times about understanding the limitations of testing and what can happen in the time immediately after a test is taken.
Reporters listening to Larry Kudlow speak on Friday outside the White House