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Precarious Work

The Precarious Workforce Initiative focuses on the labor rights and socioeconomic conditions of low-wage and contingent workers, who receive little or no benefits and have largely no institutional or legal protection.

The Precarious Work Initiative focuses on the labor rights and socioeconomic conditions of low-wage and contingent workers, who receive little or no benefits and have largely no institutional or legal protection.

These workers constitute the most vulnerable segment of the workforce. Their ranks include, but are not limited to, day laborers, immigrants, domestic workers, young workers, the unemployed and the formerly incarcerated.

The challenges facing them have become increasingly prevalent in the labor market and the economy as a whole, to the point that core industries such as construction, health care, manufacturing, media and entertainment include growing numbers of workers employed under precarious conditions.

The Precarious Workforce Initiative draws on the research and expertise of the ILR School faculty and associates in the areas of labor rights, collective representation, leadership and strategy development. We conduct research and advance the debate about policies and strategies that would improve working conditions and enforcement of labor rights for workers facing precarious employment.

Additionally, this initiative offers programs that provide technical assistance, as well as leadership and organizational development opportunities for non-traditional organizations representing low-wage and marginalized workers.

Events

Worker Institute hosts an international forum on app-based work

The two-day forum, titled "Platform-Workers Forum: Global Perspectives on Organizing and Policy” was translated simultaneously into English, Spanish, and Hindi. The event was attended by more than 150 participants from 34 countries from across the globe.
Panel in the International App-Based Forum
Worker Institute hosts an international forum on app-based work

Fair and Safe Return to Work: Protecting Workers and Communities during Reopening

On Thursday, August 6, 2020, the Worker Institute at the ILR school and the Restaurant Opportunity Centers of New York hosted a webinar focused on reopening the economy and the workplace.
Worker wish a mask
Fair and Safe Return to Work: Protecting Workers and Communities during Reopening

Fair and Safe Return to Work: Protecting Workers and Communities during Reopening

This webinar will examine the issues that workers and communities are facing as New York City undergoes phase 4 of the reopening of its economy.
person wearing a mask working behind a bar at a restaurant
Fair and Safe Return to Work: Protecting Workers and Communities during Reopening

Gig Companies Can’t Take Everyone for a Ride

Wall Street Journal
42% of food delivery workers say they've been underpaid, according to ILR's Worker Institute and the Workers Justice Project's study cited by The Wall Street Journal in wake of FTC warning to companies about unfair practices.
DoorDash driver
Gig Companies Can’t Take Everyone for a Ride

Chuck Schumer Aims to Deliver Infrastructure Dollars to Help Food Couriers

The City NYC News
Nearly half said they’ve been in a crash while doing a delivery, according to the survey done by the Workers Justice Project and the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) rode with a group of Deliveristas in Hamilton Heights, Oct. 13, 2021. Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY
Chuck Schumer Aims to Deliver Infrastructure Dollars to Help Food Couriers

Fed up by pandemic, US food workers launch rare strikes

AP News logo
After decades of watching companies chip away at pay and benefits, food workers sense that they have a rare upper hand in the wake of the pandemic, says Patricia Campos-Medina, the executive director of The Worker Institute at ILR Cornell.
Kellog workers on Strike
Fed up by pandemic, US food workers launch rare strikes

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