ILR School

ILR Research Studies and Reports

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    Exploring the Conditions of the New York Solar Workforce
    Hoek Spaans, Avalon; Morley, Jillian (Cornell University, ILR School, Climate Jobs Institute, 2024)
    [Excerpt] To address the impending climate crisis, reduce global emissions, and meet the demands of decarbonization, solar energy must rapidly grow in the next two decades. The United States is projected to need 1,118 gigawatts (GW) of solar energy by 2050 under a high-electricity demand scenario (Gagnon et al., 2024; National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2024), with over 60 GW to be installed in NYS alone (New York State Climate Action Council, 2022). In the past decade, NYS has increased its solar installations by over 2,000%; yet by the end of 2023, only 5.56 GW of solar capacity had been installed in the state (New York Independent System Operator, 2014; New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, 2024a; Solar Energy Industries Association, 2024) which may be due to the infancy of the industry. With solar installations critical growth in New York, and the United States as a whole, comes the question: will these construction projects create the high-quality jobs with family-sustaining wages American communities need?
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    Building the Clean Energy Commonwealth: A Climate Jobs Roadmap for Massachusetts
    Hoek Spaans, Avalon; Skinner, Lara; Raman, Anita; Moskowitz, Hunter; Packman, Iris; Shetler, Melissa; Harper, Ben; Lamm, Nathan; Morley, Jillian (Cornell University, ILR School, Climate Jobs Institute, 2024)
    [Excerpt] As the climate crisis worsens and the federal government adds approximately $500 billion to clean energy investments in the United States, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is facing historic opportunities: to address climate change; protect and create high-quality jobs; confront race and gender inequality; and build a robust, equitable clean energy economy that benefits all.
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    Domestic Workers Rising: An Evaluation of the We Rise Peer Training Program
    West, Zoë; Carey, Ketchel; Brady, Anne Marie (Cornell University, ILR School, Worker Institute, 2024)
    This report is based on an in-depth evaluation of the impact of the We Rise Nanny Training, a peer education program in New York that integrates workers’ rights education with professional development, using popular education pedagogy. The We Rise Nanny Training aims to lift standards in the domestic work industry by training nannies in workers’ rights and negotiation skills; providing professional development that increases their employability; and building their confidence and leadership within the workplace and within the movement for domestic workers’ rights. The evaluation was designed as an 18-month, mixed-methods, longitudinal study that was shaped by the principles of community-based participatory research. The research included a longitudinal survey comprised of a baseline, midline, and endline survey; qualitative interviews with training participants; focus groups with peer trainers; and qualitative interviews with training coordinators and organization staff. Research was conducted in English, Spanish, and Nepali. Our analysis suggests that the We Rise Nanny Training strengthens participants’ ability and drive to negotiate with their employers for increased wages and better working conditions, and to secure measures such as written contracts and overtime pay. Participants drew confidence and motivation to negotiate from learning about their rights and fair standards, recognizing the value of their labor as domestic workers, and receiving a certificate from the Worker Institute at Cornell University. Our research also found that the peer and popular education design of the We Rise training appears to instill in participants the sense that they are part of a greater movement of domestic workers pushing for industry-wide change, thus bolstering their confidence and drive to make change in their own workplaces and across the industry. Findings suggest that organizations use the We Rise Nanny Training to support their broader strategies to lift standards across the industry: as a base-building channel; a vehicle for leadership development; and as a “leadership ladder” where nannies can become peer trainers and We Rise “captains.” Our analysis also suggests that the training influences participants to become more involved in activities that are central to lifting standards in the industry and expanding the movement for domestic workers’ rights—sharing information with other nannies, doing outreach and recruitment with other nannies, and engaging in organizing and advocacy activities.
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    Building an Equitable, Diverse, & Unionized Clean Energy Economy: What We Can Learn from Apprenticeship Readiness
    Cunningham, Zach; Shetler, Melissa (Cornell University, ILR School, Climate Jobs Institute, 2023)
    [Excerpt] With this report, the CJI addresses another core aspect of tackling the dual crises of climate change and inequality: ensuring that frontline, historically underserved communities have expansive, effective pathways into high-quality union clean energy careers. The Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act have brought increased attention to two important clean energy workforce questions. First, does the U.S. have enough trained workers to meet the demands of the clean energy economy? And second, how do we ensure that the clean energy workforce is diverse and inclusive? This report responds to both of these questions by showing that there are model programs across the U.S. that create pathways for underserved communities into apprenticeship readiness, union apprenticeship programs, and ultimately, good union careers. This study, as well as our many years of experience in the field, have taught us that there is no simple or easy solution to creating or scaling successful pathways. These pathways exist in an ecosystem of essential and interdependent actors that must be focused on the common goal of building a diverse, equitable and unionized clean energy workforce. Key actors and components include: union-led climate coalitions advocating for bold, equitable climate action; policymakers implementing ambitious, jobs-led climate policy; strong labor and equity standards that ensure clean energy jobs are good union jobs; high-quality union apprenticeship programs that pay apprentices well and make sure that the clean energy workforce is highly-skilled and well-trained; trusting partnerships between labor unions, environmental justice organizations, community groups, employers, MWBE contractors, government, and academic institutions; and the focus of this report, high-quality apprenticeship readiness programs that provide participants with the support they need to successfully enter union apprenticeship.
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    AI in Contact Centers: Artificial Intelligence and Algorithmic Management in Frontline Service Workplaces
    Doellgast, Virginia; O'Brady, Sean; Kim, Jeonghun; Walters, Della (Cornell University, ILR School, 2023)
    Contact centers have long been lead innovators in adopting new technologies to restructure jobs and manage workers. Between the 1990s and 2000s, the first wave of digitalization transformed what were then called ‘call centers’ through innovations in call volume tracking, automatic call distribution, and electronic monitoring and performance management. The growth of the internet and fiber-optic digital networks enabled the relocation of jobs far from customers through outsourcing and offshoring. Since the mid-2010s – and accelerating in the early 2020s – a new set of technologies have been transforming contact center jobs. This second digital transformation is based on advances in artificial intelligence (AI), enabled by faster network speeds and cloud computing. A range of new AI-based tools are being used to automate customer service and sales via chatbots and voicebots, to perform a growing range of back-office tasks, and to enable more intensive and tailored forms of remote monitoring, coaching, training, and scheduling. In this report, we summarize initial findings from research on how these AI-based tools are being used in contact centers, and their impacts on work and workers. The study focused on contact centers in the US, Canada, Germany, and Norway. We carried out matched case studies in all four countries, including interviews with managers, worker representatives, and employees. We also conducted matched contact center worker surveys in the US (N=2891) and Canada (N=385) between December 2022 and January 2023. In the US, we conducted a survey in 2017 on a similar sample of contact center workers, with some identical questions – allowing us to also describe changes in average responses between these two time periods.
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    Higher Ground? Report 2: Climate Resilience and Fashion’s Costs of Adaptation
    Bauer, Angus; Williams, Stephanie; Judd, Jason; Kuruvilla, Sarosh (Cornell University, ILR School, Global Labor Institute, 2023-09-13)
    [Excerpt] In this second report we dig deeper into what these scenarios mean for the largest fashion brands and retailers. How are brands likely to fare in the face of climate breakdown without any adaptation response? How large are the costs of climate-related disruption and who is likely to bear their burden? Are the major brands—whose scale and influence upstream make for commensurately large real-world impacts—pivoting to incorporate adaptation in their strategic planning? And finally, for those brands that do embrace more than just mitigation, what are the potential returns on adaptation investment?
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    Higher Ground? Report 1: Fashion’s Climate Breakdown and its Effect for Workers
    Judd, Jason; Bauer, Angus; Kuruvilla, Sarosh; Williams Stephanie (Cornell University, ILR School, Global Labor Institute, 2023-09-13)
    [Excerpt] Building on the Global Labor Institute at Cornell University, ILR School (GLI) 2021 paper that addressed the apparel industry’s mitigation-adaptation gap, this new research from Cornell GLI and Schroders—in the form of two reports—are the first to quantify how fashion brands, manufacturers and workers are likely to experience the effects of extreme heat and greater flooding. We examine un- or under-measured risks for fashion brands, their manufacturers and workers, and the governments and investors who rely on them.
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    Essential but Unprotected: App-based Food Couriers in New York City
    Figueroa, Maria; Guallpa, Ligia; Wolf, Andrew; Tsitouras, Glendy; Colón-Hernandez, Hildalyn (Cornell University, ILR School, Workers Institute, 2023)
    [Excerpt] This report contains the findings from a participatory action research project that examined the working and living conditions of delivery workers engaged by digital platforms (also known as apps) to deliver restaurant food orders to consumers in New York City. The research was conducted under a partnership between the worker center Workers’ Justice Project and The Worker Institute of Cornell University’s ILR School, and involved both primary and secondary research, including a survey of 500 app-based couriers doing deliveries in NYC, focus groups of workers, and individual interviews. The goal of this report is to raise awareness among stakeholders about the challenges that the tens of thousands of app-based delivery workers confront in NYC, to inform policy and advocacy efforts that would improve labor standards and workplace safety in this industry. Highlights of the study findings follow.
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    Washington Climate Jobs Roadmap
    Skinner, Lara; Hoek Spaans, Avalon; Moskowitz, Hunter; Lamm, Nathan; Harper, Ben; Raman, Anita (Cornell University, ILR School, Climate Jobs Institute, 2023-07)
    [Excerpt] Just as Washington State has led on climate in the past, the Evergreen State can chart a new path forward that merges WA’s climate, jobs, and equity goals. Such work calls for initiatives that deliver the greatest emission reduction, the most high-quality jobs, and a fair and inclusive economy. The recommendations in this report are designed to meet these aims. The Climate Jobs program described herein demonstrates how Washington State can pursue climate programs that are ambitious, retain and create good jobs for residents, and help build an equitable and inclusive clean energy economy and workforce.
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    Building a Just Transition for a Resilient Future: A Climate Jobs Program for Rhode Island
    Skinner, Lara; Cha, J. Mijin; Spaans, Avalon Hoek; Moskowitz, Hunter; Raman, Anita (Cornell University, ILR School, Climate Jobs Institute, 2022-01)
    [Excerpt] The following report examines the climate crisis in Rhode Island and outlines a set of high- impact climate jobs recommendations designed to maximize the state’s actions to do three things: 1) Create thousands of good-paying, high-quality jobs that help reverse inequality, 2) Drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and meet the state’s Act on Climate targets, and 3) Invest in infrastructure that will make Rhode Island communities healthier, more resilient and more equitable.