ILR and MIT Sloan researchers win grant for study of workers

Kate Bronfenbrenner, Director of Labor Education Research at the ILR School, and Thomas A. Kochan, Professor at the Institute MIT Sloan School of Management, received $225,000 in Research Network Grants WorkRise to conduct a multi-sector study of workers’ organizing efforts in the United States and their results.

Their project,Increasing Worker Voice, Equity, and Mobility: A Cross-Sectoral Study of Organizing Efforts and Their Outcomes,” is one of 22 research projects to receive funding under a series of grants announced January 12 by WorkRise, an action research network on jobs, workers and mobility based at the Urban Institute in Washington, DC

WorkRise received 175 applications for this round of funding, and awards a total of $2.4 million in research grants to the 22 teams selected for research that will inform and drive action to strengthen economic security and mobility for low-wage workers in the U.S. labor market, with a focus on addressing equity gaps affecting workers blacks and other workers of color, immigrants and women. The awards fund research across a range of research topics, institutions and methodologies, as well as academic disciplines.

Bronfenbrenner and Kochan say their study will fill an important information gap about current efforts to organize workers. “In addition to contributing to the academic literature, the results of our work organization study will provide the public and policy makers with up-to-date information on the nature, extent and impacts of current work organization efforts in the workplace. United States,” said ILR senior lecturer Bronfenbrenner. “This data is also crucial for workers, unions and other labor organizations looking to organize in the current environment.”

For each selected sector, the researchers plan to examine the economic context of the sector, including job standards and quality, corporate structures, and management strategies and beliefs; workers’ perceptions and interest in labor organizations; recent efforts to organize workers; and the impact of these efforts on outcomes for workers, businesses and local communities.

“Our findings will be relevant to all who share an interest in rebuilding the voice of workers in the United States, securing stronger long-term economic and societal outcomes, and fostering fair, inclusive, and productive labor-management relations,” said Kochan, who is the post-tenure George Maverick Bunker Professor of Management at MIT Sloan and a faculty member at the MIT Institute for Labor and Employment Research. “We are grateful to WorkRise for supporting this important and timely research,” said Kochan, who was on the faculty at the ILR School before going to MIT.

Kochan and Bronfenbrenner’s research project also marks a first step in the launch of a new interdisciplinary network of labor market researchers called the Worker Empowerment Research Network (WERN) which the two researchers have formed with colleagues to study workers’ efforts to achieve greater voice and representation at work. WERN plans to focus particularly on the efforts of workers of color, women, immigrants, and others who have faced exclusion, discrimination, or marginalization. WERN, which already involves more than 30 faculty researchers from more than a dozen universities, as well as more than 20 graduate and undergraduate students, has entered into a collaborative agreement with the United States Department of Labor, possibly in co – organizing events to discuss research results.

“Scholars engaged in WERN are committed both to bringing new knowledge through in-depth research and to engaging the public and all stakeholders in a dialogue about ways to strengthen and rebuild the influence of working people in states. United,” Kochan said.

This story originally appeared on the ILR website.
Martha E. Mangelsdorf is Director of Strategic Communications for
the MIT Institute for Labor and Employment Research.

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