ILR Research Studies and Reports

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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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    Choosing Rights: Nissan in Canton, Mississippi, and Workers’ Freedom of Association under International Human Rights Standards
    Johnson, Derrick; Compa, Lance (2013-10)
    [Excerpt] This Report chronicles Nissan’s aggressive anti-union tactics. These include mandatory “captive audience” meetings, individual sessions with supervisors, closed-circuit television presentations, surveillance, and interrogations. Nissan management has relentlessly and repeatedly implied to its workforce that the plant faces the risk of closing down if the workers decide to have a union. Instead of allowing workers to decide freely whether or not to participate in a union, the company chooses to create a climate of fear and uncertainty. Such fear-mongering is inconsistent with freedom of choice.
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    The New Possible: Innovative Workforce Development and Skills Maps for Tompkins County
    Greer, Ian; Weaver, Russell; Belot, Michèle; Lewis, Eric; Jautz, Alec; Kalmyka, Yana; Rosin, Mitch; Wang, Linda; Branosky, Natalie (2021-02)
    This report examines the pandemic’s effects on the labor market, including the changing skills needs of employers, the availability of workers with those skills, and how existing skills can be adapted and “outskilled” to meet new needs. It makes recommendations for training and education agencies in this changed social and economic landscape. It provides skills maps that to guide job seekers, employers and training providers toward a share pledge based on the most current labor market information about high-demand occupations in post-pandemic Tompkins County. In this time of economic recovery, long-held assumptions need to be questioned and modified, and risky innovations will be necessary. Stakeholders cannot simply hope the economy will quickly recover and return to normal; a data-informed strategy is needed if success is to be achieved.
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    Combatting Climate Change, Reversing Inequality: A Climate Jobs Program for Texas
    Skinner, Lara R.; Cha, J. Mijin; Moskowitz, Hunter; Phillips, Matt (2021-07)
    [Excerpt] The following report examines the crises of inequality and climate change in Texas and makes a series of “climate jobs” recommendations that can help Texas simultaneously combat climate change, create high-quality jobs, and build more equitable and resilient communities. Considering Texas’s current labor and employment landscape as well as its climate and energy profile, these recommendations identify concrete, jobs-driven strategies that can put Texas on the path to building an equitable, clean energy economy that will tackle the climate crisis and improve working and living conditions for all Texans. Importantly, these recommendations can be tested at the city and county level then scaled to the state levels based on their demonstrated effectiveness.
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    The Health Care Financing Maze for Working-Age People with Disabilities
    Goodman, Nanette; Stapleton, David C.; Livermore, Gina A.; O'Day, Bonnie (2007-02-08)
    Much of the research on health care financing for people with disabilities has focused on the Medicaid and Medicare programs. The findings of this research often highlight the inadequacies of those programs in providing appropriate services to address the special needs of people with disabilities. A focus on these large programs, however, obscures the role of other public and private insurers, as well as the role of programs that provide many additional services to this population – all of which add complexity to the system. The purpose of this paper is to describe the health care financing system as a whole, including the large public programs, other public and private insurers, and the many other programs that provide additional services. The description of the system highlights structural problems that need to be addressed in order to substantially improve the delivery of health and related services to people with disabilities. In the next section, we describe each source of health care financing for working-age people with disabilities and highlight its implications for service delivery and quality of life. In the concluding section, we describe the key structural shortcomings of the current financing system, assess the extent to which current reform efforts are addressing these shortcomings, and discuss the implications for broader efforts to reform health care financing system.
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    Health Insurance Coverage among Youth and Young Adults with Work Limitations
    O'Day, Bonnie; Stapleton, David C.; Horvath-Rose, Ann (2007-01-03)
    This paper explores health insurance coverage trends for youth (age 15-18) and young adults (age 19-29) with work limitations using data from the Current Population Survey. In 2000 those in the young work-limited population were substantially more likely to have insurance coverage than their counterparts in the not work-limited population. They were much more likely to have public coverage and much less likely to have only private coverage. Insurance coverage for this population increased substantially between 1989 and 2000, in contrast to a decline for the not work-limited population. We discuss the probable contributions of policy reforms and the decline in employment of people with work limitations to these trends.