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The members of the Labor Research and Action Network regularly post labor related articles and news updates on this page. Please check back regularly for updated content.

5th Annual LRAN Conference a Success

More than 250 scholars and practitioners gathered for the fifth annual national Labor Research and Action Network conference (link to conference program) on June 15th and 16th. The two-day event, hosted by the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University, brings together academics, organizers and graduate students from across the country with the aim of bridging the gap between research and worker organizing. This year's conference opened with a conversation on the fissured economy, featuring U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Administrator Dr. David Weil, CTUL Co-Director Veronica Mendez, Teamsters Port Division Representative Christina Montorio and Workers United Organizer Jack Mahoney. All four speakers highlighted the creative and innovative strategies they are deploying to organize and raise standards given this new economic reality. A second plenary was focused on the fight for a stronger public sector, keynoted by AFSCME President Lee Saunders. British scholar Guy Standing gave a special lecture, "A Precariat Charter: A Progressive Strategy for Today's Dangerous Class." Workshops spread across the two days were divided into four tracks: Developing New Membership Models and Sustainability, Innovating Campaign Strategies That Build Power, Advancing Worker Rights in a Changing Economy and Holding Corporations Accountable.

LRAN, which has now grown to include more than 1,000 scholars and practitioners, uses its national conference each year as a time to learn from labor's successes and setbacks. In addition to providing a space for researchers and practitioners to come together, LRAN supports new scholarship in the field through its new scholars research grant competition. 2015 grant winners, who were awarded a combined $16,000, presented on their ongoing research at the conference. Their research spanned topics from organizing immigrants in Chicago worker centers to labor-environmental coalitions in rural areas.

5th Annual LRAN Conference

SAVE THE DATE! The 2015 Labor Research and Action Network national conference will be held June 15 and 16 at Georgetown Law Center in Washington, D.C. The Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor will host the conference, which will explore how labor unions and other worker-based organizations can effectively collaborate. The conference will examine methods of building worker power and advancing a new social movement in an economy where collective bargaining is imperiled, and where employer-employee relationships are increasingly fragmented. Scholars and labor practitioners from across the country will convene to reflect on this core theme, share news ideas and lessons learned, and connect around research and campaign work.

4th Annual LRAN Conference a Success
LRAN 2014 Conference

Over 250 labor scholars and practitioners from unions, universities and nonprofits across the country attended the fourth annual LRAN conference, hosted by the Kalmanovitz Initiative at Georgetown University. The conference started with a conversation between AFT President Randi Weingarten, Harvard University scholar Theda Skocpol and journalist and author of Nixonland, Rick Perlstein, who discussed some of the obstacles workers and modest income families are facing – both in the economy and in politics – as well as the root causes. Weingarten and Skocpol both emphasized the need for greater and more consistent engagement in community issues, increasing membership-based organizing and new organizing models. The second day opened with President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Keith Kelleher, Katie Quan of the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, and Saket Soni, executive director of the National Guestworker Alliance, who reflected on their lessons learned from organizing workers and researching strategies to build worker power in a global economy. Noted labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein, director of the Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy, presented a lecture on the trend away from the vertical integration of companies and strategies for holding the ultimate employer accountable for labor standards.

A core mission of LRAN, a project coordinated by Jobs With Justice Education Fund, is to create a space for the exchange of ideas to advance a progressive workers' movement, and this year's conference is clearly fulfilling that goal. Throughout the day, professors, organizers, students and researchers networked, explored ways to collaborate and shared their experiences through panels that delved into topics ranging from auto worker organizing in the South, a recent successful campaign to enact paid family leave in New Jersey, and digital worker organizing strategies. Another core mission of LRAN is to support new scholars in the field. Thanks to a Berger Marks grant, 10 women scholars and activists attended the conference and joined the foundation for a breakfast to network with each other [link here:]. In addition, 2014 LRAN research grant finalists updated the conference on their developing research projects. To contribute to the 2015 research grant fund, donate here.

LRAN's Annual Conference 2014

REGISTER NOW for the 4th Annual LRAN National Conference, which will be held on June 16th and 17th, 2014, at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, DC. Explore the intersection of cutting-edge labor research and innovative worker organizing campaigns, and hear from the AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre, Harvard University scholar Theda Skocpol, journalist Rick Perlstein, and many more scholars and practitioners. CLICK HERE FOR THE PROGRAM. 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. We hope you can join us. Contact Erin Johansson for further information.

For more information, visit our conference details page or view the Conference Brochure.

LRAN Trains Scholars and Facilitates Research on Government Contracting Out

One of the key goals of LRAN is to connect scholars with practitioners in order for their research to be relevant to the lives of workers.

Last fall, the LRAN Initiatives Work Group decided to put this goal to practice through a project to fight privatization. Over the past year, LRAN has partnered with In the Public Interest (ITPI) to surface ongoing research needs related to privatization and responsible contracting, and to identify and cultivate scholars who could produce this research and serve as credible experts on the issues. On October 17-19, LRAN & ITPI held a training at the AFL-CIO in Washington, DC for faculty, union and nonprofit staff. Experts led workshops on analyzing costs, contract language, operations, public services, government oversight, and other key elements of government contracting out.

For those interested in accessing videos and materials from the training when they are made available, please contact Erin Johansson of Jobs with Justice, and provide your name, affiliation and title. To learn more about privatization research projects, contact Shar Habibi of ITPI. To get involved in the 2014 project of the LRAN Initiative Work Group, which will tackle another research topic of importance to worker campaigns, contact co-chairs Christian Sweeney of the AFL-CIO or Gordon Lafer of the University of Oregon.

Boston Regional LRAN Forum on Labor Law Reform

On November 13, organizers, labor researchers and academics attended a forum to discuss "Labor Law Reform: Which Way Forward?" on Nov. 13. The forum was held at SEIU Local 888 and was organized by a Boston Regional committee of LRAN. Participants heard four presentations on new legislative and organizing approaches to address the serious obstacles to recruiting new union members and help rebirth the labor movement. The panelists discussed ideas including Just Cause, pre-majority bargaining, holding primary employers accountable, and extending rights to excluded workers. MIT Professor Thomas Kochan wrapped up the panel presentations: "These are good ideas that don't require waiting for action at the federal level. Now we've got to get our message out to a wider audience and begin organizing for real change at the local level." The LRAN forum was co-sponsored by Mass AFL-CIO, Mass Jobs with Justice, Justice at Work, Immigrant Worker Center Collaborative, Labor Resource Center at UMass Boston and The Labor Guild.

For more info contact: Elvis Mendez