UMass Amherst
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The Future of Work in Massachusetts

THE FUTURE OF WORK PROJECT

Workers across virtually all sectors of the economy are facing work reorganization, new technology, and the intensification of work. With globalization, employers are increasingly becoming part of large multinational companies and Massachusetts' workers are now forced to compete on a world stage. Long-term, stable jobs are disappearing as work has become more temporary, part-time, and contingent. The workforce itself is changing in Massachusetts and many new workers find themselves on the front lines of workplace change.  How are Massachusetts workers fighting to hold on to dignity and pride at work, to build job and income security, and have a
say in their future?

 

To address these questions the UMass Amherst Labor Center, in conjunction with the Labor Centers at UMass Boston, UMass Dartmouth, and UMass Lowell, initiated a project on the Future of Work in Massachusetts in 2004.  Now in its fifth year, the project integrates research, education, and outreach. To date the four UMass campuses have received $1.25 million from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to support our efforts.

 

The project began in Fall 2004 with a Request for Proposals (RFP) for cutting-edge research on the future of work in Massachusetts.  A large number of proposals were submitted and twelve pieces of original research by researchers at the four UMass campuses were funded.

 

On April 28, 2005, a major state-wide conference was held at the University of Massachusetts Boston, featuring the commissioned research.  More than 200 labor and community leaders and policy makers came together with UMass faculty, students, and staff.

 

Part of the original project was to collect the research papers into a volume edited by UMass Amherst Labor Center Professor Tom Juravich.  The book, The Future of Work in Massachusetts, was published in 2007 by the University of Massachusetts Amherst Press.  With funding provided by the Commonwealth, a copy of the book was placed in every public and parochial school and every public library in Massachusetts.

 

A curriculum on the Future of Work in Massachusetts was developed for union members, activists and leaders, unorganized workers, community groups, and high school and college students.  Based on research from the Future of Work project, it is designed to analyze workplace change and explore opportunities to strategize for changing the future of work. The curriculum, featuring several formats, was published in 2008.

 

In Fall 2008 the UMass Amherst Labor Center solicited proposals for research on immigration, race, and the future of work.  Seven proposals have been funded.  They are focused on emerging public policies about immigration and work; how the labor movement, other organizations, and immigrant communities are responding and organizing around immigrant issues; and case studies of particular workplaces, occupations, or labor markets where immigrants are concentrated.  A major conference on Immigration, Race, and the Future of Work is planned for November 2009, featuring the commissioned research as well as other speakers and workshop sessions.

 

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