The faculty at the Labor Center is involved in a number of cutting-edge research projects. These include local projects directly in support of the labor movement and more long-term academic research. Under the direction of the faculty, graduate students in the Labor Center have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a wide variety of labor research. Recent projects include:
The Degradation of Work
Tom Juravich's book, At the Altar of the Bottom Line: The Degradation of Work in the 21st Century, was published by the University of Massachusetts Press in 2009. It is based on more than 85 interviews with customer services representatives in a call center, nurses in the operating room in Boston Medical Center, undocumented immigrant workers in New Bedford, and displaced industrial workers in Dalton, Massachusetts. A grant from the Commonwealth has placed a copy of the book in every public library and every public and parochial school in Massachusetts. Juravich has completed a series of audio documentaries based on the interviews from the book and preparing a web site for the book. He is also exploring possibilities to extend his ethnographic research on work and the labor process in both the U.S. and Canada.
Strategic Research and Campaigns
Over the past decade Tom Juravich developed a framework and method for union strategic corporate research and campaigns, including the development of a number of instructional materials. He has been asked to teach this approach in the AFL-CIO/Cornell summer school for the past six years, and for the labor movement in Canada, England and Australia. Juravich is currently updating and expanding this program in preparation for a new web site.
Labor and Community Coalitions
This research project focuses on the ability of labor-community groups to mobilize around economic justice issues. The research by Eve Weinbaum includes case studies of communities that mount grassroots organizing campaigns around a variety of issues, including plant closings, economic development policy, and civil rights/anti-racism efforts. The work focuses on issues of leadership, organizing capacity, and the importance of failure in paving the way for success. Stephanie Luce has also participated in the Building Regional Power project, and conducted studies of labor-community organizing in Cleveland, Denver and New Haven.
Women and Work
Labor Center faculty and staff are engaged in a number of projects examining the situation for women workers in general and low-wage women workers in particular. In 2008, Stephanie Luce and Eve Weinbaum co-wrote an article for New Labor Forum looking at the conditions for women workers in the low-wage labor market, and organizing efforts to improve their conditions.
Childcare and Family Policy
Eve Weinbaum coordinates Working Families Massachusetts, a broad-based coalition of unions and community groups working with counterparts in other states to achieve quality childcare and paid parental leave policies for working families.