Research and Publications
The Labor Resource Center undertakes research about workers in Massachusetts, the United States, and around the world. The Center’s research includes applied-participatory work, which involves collaborating with labor and community organizations, as well as academic research that explores the changing nature of work, working-class experience, and labor organizing. Students, staff, and faculty regularly work on various projects involving low-wage workers, women workers, immigrant workers, workforce development, race and class, the public sector, and globalization.
Through the Future of Work Research Initiative, funded by the University of Massachusetts President’s Office, the Labor Resource Center has produced a series papers that explore a broad range of issues affecting working people in Massachusetts, from current conditions and policies, to lessons we can draw from past labor struggles and experiences. Examples of papers prepared by faculty, students, and activists are included below, and available on ScholarWorks.
Current LRC Projects
Boston Teachers Union Oral History Project: In fall 2019, LRC Associate Director Nick Juravich began working with Betsy Drinan, Secretary-Treasurer of the Boston Teachers Union, to create a BTU Oral History Project. Despite the disruptions of COVID-19, we have collected 13 oral histories with union leaders and organizers thus far, and we are in the process of digitizing a near-complete run of the BTU's newsletter, the Boston Union Teacher, from the 1960s through the present. These oral histories will be archived, along with the BTU's documentary records, in the University Archives and Special Collections at UMass Boston's Healey Library. These interviews will provide valuable resources on the history of education and educator organizing for students, teachers, researchers, and organizers. Nick has already used some of these materials in his classes, and one of his graduate student advisees in public history is creating a digital exhibit for BTU on the union's history using these records.
UMass Boston LRC COVID-19 Interview Project: Inspired by the BTU Oral History Project, the LRC has hired undergraduate labor studies major and Boston Public Schools graduate Josimery Gomes-Timas to work as an interviewer and researcher documenting the experiences of UMass Boston community members during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Josimery's interviews will be archived in the UMass Boston COVID-19 archives: https://openarchives.umb.edu/digital/collection/covid19
Joint Study of General Electric (with Cornell ILR): Researchers from the School of Industrial Relations at Cornell University and the UMass Boston Labor Resource Center are working in partnership to produce a study of General Electric (GE) at its two founding campuses: Schenectady, New York and Lynn, Massachusetts. Our study evaluates the impact of reduced production, transfers of work, canceled hires, and layoffs in Schenectady and Lynn. We aim to identify strategies for productivity improvements and opportunities for sustaining and expanding production and employment at these GE facilities. As our President and Congress seek to address infrastructure, job growth and climate change together, we plan to offer actionable recommendations for building models of sustainable manufacturing in Massachusetts and New York.
Organizing for Power: Building a 21st Century Labor Movement in Boston – edited by Aviva Chomsky and Steve Striffler
Boston 's economy has become defined by a disconcerting trend that has intensified throughout much of the United States since the 2008 recession. Economic growth now delivers remarkably few benefits to large sectors of the working class -- a phenomenon that is particularly severe for immigrants, people of color, and women. Organizing for Power explores this nation-wide phenomenon of "unshared growth" by focusing on Boston, a city that is famously liberal, relatively wealthy, and increasingly difficult for working people (who service the city 's needs) to actually live in.
"All higher education is labour education" by Nick Juravich, Scottish Labour History (2020). For a symposium on the future of labor history, Nick used the Labor Resource Center as a case study, interviewing past and present teachers of labor studies at UMass Boston and reflecting on the evolution of the LRC since its founding by Jim Green in 1979.
"American Women, American Citizens, 1920-1948" by Nick Juravich. In July 2020, Nick co-directed an NEH Summer Institute for K-12 Educators. Labor history was, of course, a central focus! https://www.nyhistory.org/education/professional-learning/neh-summer-institute-for-school-teachers
"Harlem Sophistication: Community-based Paraprofessional Educators in Harlem and East Harlem," by Nick Juravich in Educating Harlem: A Century of Schooling and Resistance in a Black Community, edited by Ansley T. Erickson and Ernest Morrell (New York: Columbia University Press, 2019): https://harlemeducationhistory.library.columbia.edu/book/chapters/10
"Workers Metropolis: 'City of Workers, City of Struggle' at the Museum of the City of New York" by Nick Juravich in The Nation, December 10, 2019. https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/mcny-city-of-workers-show-review/
"City of Achievement: The Making of the City of South El Monte, 1955-1976,” by Nick Juravich in East of East: The Making of Greater El Monte (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2020) https://www.rutgersuniversitypress.org/east-of-east/9781978805484. For more on this book, see Nick's interview with fellow authors and educators for the LaborOnline blog: https://www.lawcha.org/2020/09/17/interviewing_east-of-east/
"A Chalkbeat Roundtable: What New York City is still learning from its teacher strikes of 1968" edited by Nick Juravich, Chalkbeat, October 18, 2018. https://ny.chalkbeat.org/2018/10/18/21106175/a-chalkbeat-roundtable-what-new-york-city-is-still-learning-from-its-teacher-strikes-of-1968 A roundtable with leading scholars of education, social movements, and teacher unionism on the fiftieth anniversary of the struggle over community control of schools in New York City.
“Tiny Houses, Narrow Visions: Examining American inequality through the problem of teacher housing,” by Nick Juravich in Public Seminar, January 24, 2018. http://www.publicseminar.org/2018/01/tiny-houses-narrow-visions
Labor History Resources for K-12 Educators. Since 2017, Nick Juravich has served on the Labor and Working-Class History Association's Teaching Resources Committee, in which we're building labor history resources for K-12 educators: http://www.lawcha.org/labor-history-for-the-classroom-and-public/
History of Paraprofessionals and their Organizing. In 2016, Nick Juravich appeared in two segments of the American Federation of Teachers' 100th Anniversary Documentary discussing his research on the history of paraprofessional educators and their organizing:
“Empowerment: A Voice for Paras and School Staff,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukJoYrs7zhw
“Paraprofessionals in NYC Bring Community into the School” https://vimeo.com/153790620
"Massachusetts Labor Matters – The Union Effect in Massachusetts" In this report we explore the union wage effect in Massachusetts by examining the differences in wages, employer benefits and receipt of public supports of workers covered by union contracts compared to a demographically similar set of non-union workers ages 16-64 in similar industries. Click here to read paper.
"Low Wage Earners and Low Wage Jobs in Greater Boston" by Anneta Argyres, Brandynn Holgate, and Susan Moir
Anybody who has ever been employed can readily list the qualities of a good job. Some are easily identified factors, such as good wages, health benefits, paid sick and vacation time, and a pension plan. Others are harder to measure, such as job security, reasonable workloads, flexible work schedules, workplace safety and health, or being treated with respect. In either case, it’s clear that job quality is something to which every working person pays attention. Click here to read paper (pdf format)
Unfinished Business: Building Equality for Women in the Construction Trades by Susan Moir, Meryl Thomson, and Christa Kelleher
This review and analysis of over one hundred and twenty published and unpublished sources on the unfinished business of increasing women’s participation in the construction workforce over the past thirty-plus years aims to:
- Provide a definitive assessment of the consistency of evidence on the daunting challenges facing women who seek to enter and advance in the construction workplace and
- Examine the failure of a critical social policy intended to address occupational segregation and ensure access to high-paying jobs to women. Click here to read paper (pdf format)
"Working Alone: Protecting and Building Solidarity in the Workplace of the Future" by Charley Richardson
This paper explores the foundations of solidarity in the workplace and the challenges to building solidarity in the modern day workplace. The author identifies eight workplace trends that are increasing individual isolation and destroying workplace-based social networks. After comparing two models of social networks, the author suggests specific steps workers and unions can take to protect solidarity at work. Click here to read paper (pdf format)
"Gaming in Massachusetts: Can Casinos bring 'Good Jobs' to the Commonwealth?" by Marlene Kim, Susan Moir, and Anneta Argyres
This study examines the quality of jobs in the United States gaming industry and analyzes enabling legislation in five states that have legalized gaming. The authors find that the gaming industry -- particularly the unionized sector of the casino hotel industry -- provides good jobs with good wages and benefits for workers with less than a high school degree. The authors conclude that workforce development efforts in Massachusetts must include strategies to address improving the quality of entry-level jobs. Click here to read paper (pdf format)
"Building Trades Apprentice Training in Massachusetts: An Analysis of Union and Non-Union Programs, 1997-2007" by Anneta Argyres and Susan Moir
This study provides an analysis and comparison of the efficacy and sustainability of union and non-union building trades apprentice training programs in Massachusetts. The authors analyzed several outcome variables including total enrollment levels and completion rates; enrollment and completion rates for minorities, women and other non-traditional populations; and program size and sustainability. Based on the findings, the authors offer recommendations to the Massachusetts Division of Apprentice Training. Click here to read paper (pdf format)
The Boston-area HASWIC Research Circle: An Innovative Participatory Method for Coloring in the Picture of a Special Work Environment, Susan Moir and Lenore S. Azaroff
Recent qualitative studies have investigated some of the hazards affecting women in non-traditional trades such as construction. However, one-time interactions among researcher participants, and between researchers and participants, in standard settings such as focus groups and interviews, cannot provide the time, space, and relationships to fully explore tradeswomen's in-depth knowledge of their work environment. This study applied a Scandinavian method called the Research Circle to convene a group of experienced women construction workers repeatedly over a period of two years so they could collaborate with researchers in explaining workplace issues. The results both validated and expanded upon previous findings about health and safety for women in construction, including gender discrimination, lack of access to sanitary facilities, retaliation for reporting hazards and injuries, and inadequate training and equipment. Especially important, findings illustrate some of the complex hierarchical social structures involved in both female and male construction workers responding to hazardous conditions. Click here to read more
“Sharing the Costs, Reaping the Benefits: Paid Family and Medical Leave in Massachusetts,” by Randy Albelda and Alan Clayton-Matthews
This report provides an analysis of the costs and benefits associated with Massachusetts Senate President Robert Travaglini's proposed family and medical leave insurance program (April 2006). The authors developed a simulation model to estimate the employer and employee wage costs when employees take paid and unpaid family and medical leaves, and they use this model to compare the current costs with those predicted under the Travaglini proposal. Click here to read paper (pdf format)
For information about how the authors estimated the costs of the program and the specifics about their model, please follow the link below to "IWPR/LRC Paid Family and Medical Leave Simulation Model," originally reported as an Appendix in their report to the IWPR. Click here to read more about the IWPR/LRC Paid Family and Medical Leave Simulation Model (pdf format)
Labor Resource Center
The Labor Resource Center is affiliated with the College of Liberal Arts.