REGISTER NOW for the 2019 Labor Research and Action Network (LRAN) national conference will be held Wednesday, June 12 and Thursday, June 13 at Case Western Reserve University, hosted by the Social Justice Institute. Scholars, labor practitioners, and activists from across the country will convene in Cleveland, Ohio to share new ideas, research and best practices, and to identify points of connection and collaboration. This conference is an opportunity to develop proactive strategies to create healthy and prosperous futures for all workers in the face of political, economic, and technological changes, and to learn about organizing and research in the Midwest, including active campaigns in Ohio. The theme this year is the Future of Workers.
This year’s LRAN conference is planned in coordination with the Labor Employment Relations Association Annual Meeting, to be held June 13-16 in Cleveland. This year’s LERA meeting is on the theme of technology and the new workforce. More information available here.
If you would like on campus housing. Please follow this link and select The Village at 115:
Tentative Conference Schedule
Wednesday, June 12th
Case Western Reserve University
11038 Bellflower Rd
Cleveland, OH 44106
Ben Woods, Researcher, Jobs with Justice
9:15-10:45am Plenary I:
Labor in the Midwest: Voices from Frontlines of Cleveland, OH
Rep. from ATU Riders Union
Kelly Granda, Cleveland ACTS AFT
Camilo Villa, SEIU Local 1
Rachel Dissell, Cleveland Plain Dealer News Guild
Moderator: Harriet Applegate, Northshore AFL-CIO Federation of Labor
11-12:30pm Workshop Series I
1.1 Domestic outsourcing: new perspectives on research and organizing
Firms have always bought and sold goods and services from one another, but the scale and scope of these activities have changed substantially. Researchers characterize these changes in various ways: as the fissuring of the workplace, vertical disintegration, outsourcing, and subcontracting, among others. Interest in this topic has grown, along with concerns about its consequences for workers. However, research in this area is still scant, especially in the US. This panel will share new perspectives on domestic outsourcing and its consequences for jobs and wages in different industries, and consider what domestic outsourcing means for worker organizing. First, we introduce a new methodology for measuring domestic outsourcing and assessing its impact on wages. Next, we present several distinct forms of domestic outsourcing in different industries, considering what these forms mean for workers’ job quality and wages. Finally, we discuss new approaches to worker organizing in the context of outsourcing and industry restructuring. In this panel, we will examine outsourcing in health care, property services, temp services, and the public sector.
Hye Jin Rho, Good Companies, Good Jobs Initiative
Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Christine Riordan, Institute for Work and Employment Research, Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
John Kallas, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University
Max Gerboc, Assistant Director of Collective Bargaining, SEIU Local 1
Moderator: Jessie Halpern-Finnertt, UC Berkeley Labor Center, UC Davis Geography
1.2 Faculty Fight Back!
As higher education becomes increasingly corporatized, faculty are becoming more and more proletarianized and are utilizing new and old weapons to advocate for their collective interest. With the rise of a precarious class of adjunct faculty, faculty are able to organize at private universities without their employers making the traditional claim to the NLRB that faculty are management and therefore not entitled to bargaining rights. At private universities, institutions are increasingly controlled by administrators rather than academics, with an emphasis on chasing enrollments and enhancing their brands, while diminishing faculty governance and the value of a quality liberal education. At public institutions, with increasing tuition costs, mounting student debt, and broad attacks on public funding, some faculty unions have taken a “common good” approach, emphasizing everything from living wages for student workers, to affordable tuition, to improved race and gender equity among the faculty. Faculty are (sometimes belatedly) realizing that their voices can only be heard within their institutions if they recognize their position as workers and organize accordingly. This panel will present perspectives from a diverse set of rank and file faculty organizing, bargaining and striking on their campuses.
Rebecca Kolins Givan, Rutgers University (AAUP-AFT)
Chris Howell, Oberlin College (AAUP)
John Martin, Wright State University (AAUP)
Sirisha Naidu, Wright State University (AAUP)
Sarah Slavick, Lesley University, SEIU Local 509
Moderator: Alyssa Picard, Director, AFT Higher Education
1.3 Towards a Green New Deal: Racial, Economic, and Climate Justice
This panel explores how moving towards a Green New Deal will require campaigns at the intersection of racial, economic, and climate justice at the local level. The panelists will share will share how their campaigns are reshaping the ways in which local governments think about urban infrastructure to advance a vision of cities that is both cleaner and more equitable. This strategy builds on more than a decade of successes capturing public investment to build power in disenfranchised communities, create good jobs, and promote equity. The panel will situate ongoing campaigns in the energy, transportation, waste, and water infrastructure sectors in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and New York within the broader context of the Green New Deal.
Rabbi Julie Greenberg, POWER Climate Justice and Jobs Team
Terri Burgin, POWER Climate Justice and Jobs Team
Mukul Kumar, Climate Justice Lead, Partnership for Working Families
1.4 Understanding the Strike Wave of 18-19 in the Context of Teachers’ Working Conditions: Implications for Organizing and Mobilizing
In 2015 and 2017, BATS with AFT surveyed 30,000 teachers throughout the country. Given the responses the teachers strike wave that ensued the following year is easily understandable. In fact, perhaps the question should be why we did not see such a wave sooner and why the strike wave has not spread further. In both 2015 and 2017, teachers indicated the type of salient workplace detriments that fit into one element of the various strike/concerted activity models. According to the survey results, nearly 100% of K-12 teachers find their workplaces stressful with over 70% finding work stressful often. They leave work physically and mentally exhausted, seek treatment for stress and mental health and are more likely to be bullied than workers in other professions. These surveys are the most extensive surveys of teacher working conditions in the United States and paint a picture where there is much work to be done, for unions to serve the purpose of making the lives of workers better (Moody). We believe a panel discussion would present an opportunity to present some of the most relevant results of the survey, to discuss how these results relate to the models of strikes and other concerted activities (i.e. how to make the lives of K-12 teachers better through organizing, bargaining, grieving and engaging in concerted activity including strikes) and the implications of these results moving forward in K12 and the labor movement in general.
Jerry Carbo, Professor Shippensburg University, BATS member,
Melissa Love Light Tomlinson – Asst. Executive Director, BATS,
Jamy Hyde, Director BATS QWL Steering Committee,
Kathy Berry, Director BATS QWL Steering Committee
12:30-1:15 pm Lunch
1:30-2:45 pm Keynote Address:
SARA NELSON, International President, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO
Sara became a United Airlines Flight Attendant in 1996 and has been a union activist since nearly the beginning of her flying career, including serving as strike chair and leading communications for nearly 10 years at AFA’s United chapter. Sara is passionate about AFA’s continued mission to achieve fair compensation, job security, and improved quality of life for aviation’s first responders as well as a safe, healthy and secure aircraft cabin for passengers and crew alike. She believes Flight Attendants can play a pivotal role in strengthening the Labor Movement with more public contact than almost any other job and access to every corner of the earth. Recently, Sara has served as a leading voice on issues facing women in the workplace and across the country, encouraging women everywhere to “Join Unions, Run Unions.” Sara Nelson took office as the International President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO on June 1, 2014, and she is currently serving her second four-year term. Sara grew up in Corvallis, Oregon and earned a bachelor’s degree from Principia College with majors in English and Education. She resides in the DC area with her husband, David Borer and son Jack.
3-4:30pm Workshop Series II
2.1 Leveraging Digital Tools for Worker Organizing Room 101
This panel discussion is focused on how digital technologies are being used to support worker organizing, particularly in the worker center field. This panel will examine the following questions: What are the challenges motivating worker centers to use digital tools and strategies in their organizing work? Why are these tools and strategies important to them at this time? How do worker centers build digital tools into current campaigns and worker organizing efforts? How do they develop new strategies that tap into the possibilities opened up by these tools? What are some of the dilemmas/challenges that emerge in using digital tools to particularly in issues like reaching and protecting immigrant workers, achieving language justice, ensuring community and individual safety, and protecting your organizations? Can these challenges be surmounted, and, if so, how? This panel is being organized by the Labor Innovations for the 21st Century Fund (LIFT) Fund drawing from recent work the topic of technology and worker organizing.
Aquilina Soriano Versoza, Pilipino Worker Center
Janet Kwon, New York Taxi Worker Alliance
Rachel Micah-Jones, Centro de Los Derechos del Migrante Moderators:Beth Gutelius, University of Illinois at Chicago
Sanjay Pinto, Worker Institute at Cornell and Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations
2.2 Immigration and Labor Movement
Dr. John Flores, Co-Director of Social Justice Institute, Case Western Reserve University
Rep. from HOLA
Rep. from FLOC
2.3 When Wall Street Becomes Your Boss: Private Equity’s Growing Role in the American Workplace & How Frontline Workers Are Organizing to Fight Back
Wall Street private equity firms use debt financing to acquire or effectively control thousands of companies that employ millions of workers. Private equity firms have wreaked havoc at household names like Sears, General Motors, Payless, and Staples, all in the hopes of turning a quick profit. In 2018, after private equity-owned Toys R Us announced it would close all of its US stores and lay off 30,000 workers, the Fair Workweek Initiative, Organization United for Respect, and allied organizations sprang into action. Months of coordinated Toys R Us worker organizing and advocacy resulted in private equity firms Bain and KKR paying $20 million into a severance fund for impacted workers. Coming off this victory, advocates are pivoting to support workers at struggling retailers like Sears and Kmart while pushing for broader policy change. Using the retail sector and the Toys R Us victory as a case study, this workshop will discuss the regulatory strategies and worker organizing efforts underway to hold private equity accountable. This panel will 1) outline the destabilizing role of private equity in our economy, 2) highlight vital lessons from the frontline retail workers who successfully fought back, 3) profile original research on the scale of private equity’s reach and political influence, and 4) identify points of intervention against private equity so organizers, researchers, and frontline workers can proactively shape the future of work.
Terrysa Guerra, Campaign Manager, Organization United for Respect
Charles Khan Hedgeclippers and Strong For All
Mike Kink Hedgeclippers and Strong For All
Maggie Corser, Senior Research Analyst, Center for Popular Democracy
Fair Workweek/OUR Toys R Us worker leader
Americans for Financial Reform/PE Stakeholder Project
2.4 The Committee for Better Banks: Regulating Banks “From Below”
Wells Fargo workers are part of the Communication Workers of America’s “Committee for Better Banks (CBB),” formed in 2014. Over several years, the CBB has assisted and empowered bank workers to take collective action, which has resulted in their ability to help regulate the bank’s practices “from below,” where top down regulation has failed. This panel will feature workers’ voices (via video clips) who challenged one of the world’s largest and most morally bankrupt financial institutions. It will contemplate the significance of their achievements thus far. In the U.S., megabanks are an outlier among their European peers in advanced economies, as they have no history of unionization. At the same time, giant U.S. banks have disproportionate influence in the world financial system. Their business model relies on saddling working families with credit and loans to compensate for decades of wage stagnation – caused by the decline of unions – and resulting in acute wage inequality. This threatens the stability of the world financial system. Inside banks like Wells Fargo, Chase Bank, Bank of America, and more, millions of bank workers in the U.S. conduct tens of millions of financial transactions a day. These banks incentivize workers with sales goals, call quotas, and performance metrics and bonuses to sell more products, to charge more in overdraft and late fees, and to collect more debt at a faster and faster pace. This is hurts working families. We argue that ultimately, unions and collective bargaining for U.S. bank workers can contribute to stability in the world financial system.
Speakers:Shannon Bade, Organizer, CWA (MN)
Molly McGrath, Intl. Campaign Coordinator
Stephen Lerner, Fellow, Kalmanovitz Institute, Georgetown University,
Moderator: Nick Weiner, Organizing Coordinator, CWA, Committee for Better Banks
Thursday June 13th
8:00-9:00 am Breakfast
9:00-9:15 am Welcome
9:15-10:45 am Plenary Session II:
Effective Organizing strategies in a Changing Economy
This plenary panel will feature a wide range of perspectives on effective and new organizing strategies in a changing economy, workplace, and technologically advanced world. Panelists will discuss how circumstances facing workers today in both the public and private sector (including legal challenges, misclassification, precarious work, privatization, and technology in the workplace) dictate new and innovative strategies to organize union members into unions, build strong bargaining coalitions, and organize workers not covered by US labor laws. Key campaigns that will be discussed include the UTLA teachers strike and bargaining for the common good.
Steve Greenhouse, former NYT labor reporter
Erica Smiley, Executive Director, Jobs with Justice
Grace Regullano, Director of Data & Analytics, UTLA
Jane MacAlevey, Author and Strategist
Moderator: Dr. John Flores, Co-Director of Social Justice Institute, Case Western Reserve University
11-12:30pm Workshop Series III
3.1 Expanding the Frontiers of Bargaining in the 21st Century
In the last few decades, anti-union corporations and their political allies have undermined federal, state, and local laws protecting collective bargaining, and union density remains at a low point. But as shown by teachers strikes, the actions by air traffic controllers and flight attendants during the shutdown, and growing support for worker action, working people are increasingly exerting their collective power. The workshop will explore the ways working people are gaining access to collective bargaining rights through non-traditional means, discuss possible pitfalls to this activity, and explore what legal framework would need to be in place to protect these new forms of bargaining. This workshop includes empirical evidence to share that tests whether labor unions change their representation strategy in an open shop context. These are results from a study funded by the Department of Labor.
Adam Shah, Senior Policy Jobs With Justice
Ben Sachs, Harvard Law School
Sharon Block, Harvard Law School
Jesse Case, Teamsters Local 238
3.2 Future of the Supply Chain: Workers, Subcontractor, Misclassification and Technology from Ports to City Streets
Just about every product we use or purchase passes through a US port, warehouse, freight trucking terminal, package sortation center, or sometimes all of the above, on its way to stores or homes. Yet while the supply chain was once a bastion of family-supporting working-class jobs thanks to unions like the ILWU and the Teamsters, deregulation, misclassification, outsourcing and subcontracting, and the introduction of new technology to both monitor workers and automate their jobs, have all contributed to the rise of low-road jobs that are increasingly extremely low-wage, temporary, and dangerous, and that shift risks from so-called “economic employers” to small subcontractors or workers themselves. This panel’s participants will discuss research conducted on the state of workers and technology at key junctures in the supply chain and address opportunities to ensure that new technology benefits workers and that subcontractors are held accountable for working conditions.
Steve Viscelli, UPenn,
Beth Gutelius, UIC
Mike Munoz, LAANE,
Ebrima Janneh, IBT, organizer
Moderator: Cassandra Ogren, IBT
3.3 Unions of the Future: Technology and Data for Unions
UnionBase has been working with local unions across the United States, and now unions overseas to support both internal and external organizing. We believe that the labor movement cannot succeed without having a plan on how to advance it’s involvement in the internet. With pushback from employers on face to face organizing, it’s time to supplement our long standing tactics with technology that connects workers online.
Larry Williams Jr., UnionBase
Yonathan Micael, UnionBase
Howard Nembhard, UnionBase
Az Kalu, UnionBase
3.4 Mapping Financial Power for Labor and Community Campaigns
With Wall Street’s expanding power and influence, it’s more important than ever to follow the money and map out the role of finance in attacks on workers and vulnerable communities. This session will discuss the basics of power research and analysis and how it can help inform campaign strategies aimed at Wall Street. Presenters will discuss several case studies where different campaigns used power mapping by LittleSis. Participants will learn basic power research skills and learn how they can use the LittleSis data visualization tool (“Oligrapher” – https://littlesis.org/oligrapher) to map out and share their findings. LittleSis (the opposite of Big Brother) is a wiki database that tracks the key relationships of politicians, business leaders, lobbyists, financiers and their affiliated institutions. Open source and user-propelled, LittleSis facilitates collaborative research efforts to map the power elite. Two speakers will introduce the basics of power analysis research with case studies and offer a demonstration of the LittleSis power-mapping database and its data visualization tool, Oligrapher.
Gin Armstrong, Deputy Director, LittleSis
Derek Seidman, Research Analyst, LittleSis
12:30-1:45pm Lunch and LRAN Membership Meeting
2-3:30pm Workshop Series IV
4.1 Bargaining for the Common Good: Progress and Prospects
This workshop will begin by assessing the progress and outline the prospects of Bargaining for the Common Good, an initiative by unions and community allies who are seeking to reinvent collective bargaining for the 21st century. It will review recent achievements made in struggles from the 2012 Chicago teachers strike, to the Fix LA Campaign, to the recent teachers strikes. We will share specifically the work UTLA has done to incorporate common good proposals as a way to connect to social movement unionism and describe the leadership training that was incorporated into their strike preparation and implementation. We will discuss ongoing challenges to the movement including the impact of the Janus v. AFSCME decision on public sector unions’ willingness to engage in experimental bargaining, the complexity of coalition-building between unions and community allies, and the decentralized nature of the initiative. We will share training materials, sample contract demands, and lessons learned for Bargaining for the Common Good, especially initiatives emerging around housing, higher education, racial justice, and environmental justice.
Marilyn Sneiderman, Executive Director of Rutgers
Center for Innovation in Worker Organization, SMLR, Rutgers University
Sheri Davis Faulkner, Senior Program Director and Will Empower Director of Rutgers Center for Innovation in Worker Organization, SMLR, Rutgers University,
Joe McCartin, Executive Director, Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown
Lauren Jacobs, Executive Director of Partnership for Working Families
Maurice Weeks, Co-Executive Director of the Action Center for Race and the Economy
4.2 Recent Strategy and Themes for Organizing Journalists Room 102
News Guild-CWA has organized over 2,000 journalists in the past 2 years. Multiple pressures, including attacks from the President, Private Equity, and digitalization. Journalists and other media workers push back against these trends through a wave of organizing that swept through the industry. This workshop will discuss why and how journalists are building power and how they plan to build their voice in their industry.
Stephanie Basile, Senior Campaign Lead for the NewsGuild
Rachel Dissell, Journalist Cleveland Plain Dealer
4.3 Changing Big Tech Inside and Out through Tech Senior Classroom
Worker Organizing & Militant Labor Organizing and Cross-Class Solidarity in San Francisco’s Tech Industry
Over the last two years, we’ve seen tech workers organizing and taking action in new and interesting ways: online, in the workplace, in public, and more. Workers have demanded change both inside their companies — like the Google MeToo walkouts and the exposure of Facebook’s “Black people problem” — and in the ways their companies impact our democracy & planet, like rejecting projects that serve ICE or demanding climate action. During this session, we will hear about important organizing efforts and discuss key emerging questions: How do we situate tech worker organizing in the broader labor rights movement? What dynamics are we seeing in how tech workers are able to impact their workplace versus how they are able to impact corporate conduct? How are the power differences among tech workers impacting organizing? How can those demanding corporate accountability from “outside” the company build most effectively with those doing so “inside?”
Aisha Satterwhite, Managing Director at Coworker.org
Brandi Collins-Dexter, Senior Campaign Director of the Media, Culture, and Economic Justice team, Color Of Change
Francesca Santos, Tech Workers Coalition
4.4 Who do you want to be? Classification and Student Org Center
Conditions in Algorithmic Work
The emergence of ‘peer-to-peer’ labor platforms and data-centric management strategies allows companies to control large numbers of workers while creating opportunities for misclassification, reclassification, and labor organizing. These platforms and technologies raise pressing questions about the future of essential employment laws, worker classification and the quality and availability of work. Essential questions must also be asked of the workers themselves, though these too often tend to go unasked by organizers and researchers alike: Who do workers want to be? Employees? Independent contractors? Why? This session will explore the conditions of work for both platform (e.g. Uber, TaskRabbit) and traditional workers (e.g. restaurant servers, truck drivers). Panelists will also assess the implications that algorithmic work has on the legal standing and organizing possibilities for workers who toil under these conditions.
Veronica Avila, ROC-United
Laura Padin, NELP
Michael R. Slone, Case Western Reserve University
Steve Viscelli, University of Pennsylvania
Saba Waheed, UCLA Labor Center
Moderator: Aiha Nguyen, Data and Society Research Institute
Translation can be provided for non-English speakers.