The Labor Research Action Network, a project of the Jobs with Justice Education Fund, will be having its 4th annual conference in Washington, D.C. on June 16-17, 2014. Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor will host the conference, which will be held at the Georgetown Law Center in Washington, DC. The LRAN conference is an opportunity for academics, labor leaders, activists, and supporters to think creatively and daringly about the future of the labor movement. It’s a space to question fundamental assumptions, reflect critically on victories and challenges, and propose new pathways that can propel our movement forward.
OPENING PLENARY: TRACTION FOR TRANSFORMATIONAL TIMES
Working people-here and abroad-are scrambling to protect even minimal gains won over decades of struggle. Global political power shifts cause rising inequality, increasingly precarious employment and destruction of basic social services. To understand today, it is critical to see how policy changes and shifts of the past four decades affect our movements. This plenary discussion will examine how today’s economic justice movement can help working people gain power in these transformational times. Are there fresh roles for the state? What significance is there in recent progressive victories at the ballot box?
- Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers
- Theda Skocpol, Professor of Government and Sociology, Harvard University
- Rick Perlstein, journalist and author of Nixonland, Moderator
WORKSHOP PANELS 3
3.1 Bargaining for the Common Good: The Role of Research in a Campaign to Fundamentally Alter Public-Sector Bargaining
This symposium will focus on the role research is playing in the Bargaining for the Common Good effort to redefine public-sector collective bargaining. The goal of the campaign is to create unified community-labor campaigns about common concerns and to bring common demands to the bargaining table. Public-sector collective bargaining will be a compression point in broader community-benefit campaigns. Researchers have been involved in the conversations, grappling with the theoretical underpinnings of the campaign vision, providing research to contribute to building a common analysis of the moment and participating in strategy sessions around innovative solutions that broaden public-sector bargaining for the common good. More than these traditional roles for researchers, though, a part of the vision of Bargaining for the Common Good is to build the research capacities of community organizations and unions through increased funding for internal researchers and deepened partnerships with academic researchers.
- Joseph A. McCartin, Director, Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor; Professor of History, Georgetown University
- Saqib Bhatti, Fellow, Nathan Cummings Foundation
- Connie M. Razza, Director of Strategic Research and Analytics, Center for Popular Democracy
- Dan Pedrotty, Director of Pensions and Capital Strategies,
4.3 Reclaiming Jobs for the Middle Class: Challenges and Strategies in Turning Low Wage Jobs Into Good Jobs
The Great Recession of 2008 to 2010 saw a concentrated loss of mid-wage occupations in the United States, while the economic recovery brought concentrated growth in lowerwage occupations. According to a report by the National Employment Law Project, midwage jobs constituted 60% of recession losses, but only 22% of recovery growth, while low-wage occupations constituted a staggering 58% of job recovery.
This panel will examine the drivers of low wage job creation, the pervasive trend toward contingent workers, and strategies for organizing. With examples from retail, schools, and the automotive and food processing industries, we’ll discuss approaches to tackle legislative assaults on temporary workers, “managerial hegemony” over hourly workers, and production standards-based pay.
- Michael Childers, Director and Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin School for Workers
Will moderate the panel and discuss production standards strategies used by union to deal with these systems.
- Chris Schwartz, Auto Parts Campaign Director, UAW
Will draw from various campaigns to discuss organizing to scale across shops.
- Neil Sardana, Organizer, Atlanta Jobs With Justice
Will present a case study involving Georgia schools workers and legislative attacks on unemployment benefits.
- Peter Ikeler, Assistant Professor, SUNY College at Old Westbury
Will present his study on retail workers from a unionized Macy’s shop and a nonunion Target shop to highlight potential approaches to organizing big-box retail.