Working Groups

IRLE is accepting proposals from faculty and students to convene working groups in 2018-19 to explore themes relating to labor and the lives of workers. The goal of this program is to foster scholarly dialogue, exchange of ideas, and seed research initiatives around a broad range of topics.

Working group awards range from $500-$1000 for the academic year. Funds may be used for materials, meeting costs, honoraria and travel for outside speakers. Spending for student assistance may also be allowed but must be included in the original budget.

IRLE also offers the following support to working groups:

  • Convening space (three meeting rooms, gathering space and work spaces)
  • Event support (publicity, logistics, planning)
  • Grant application support (we provide pre- and post-award support)

Our long-term goal is to help working groups obtain ongoing external funding for research and educational activities. Upon completion of an annual report detailing their first year, groups are eligible to apply for a second year of $1,000 – $5,000 in funding.

Eligibility: Groups must include a mix of faculty and students and have a primary coordinator. We place high priority on interdisciplinary projects.

To apply: Submit an application form. You will need to submit a budget, goals for the group, proposed schedule of activities, and list of members. Funds can be transferred to a home department for managing, or we can manage reimbursements at IRLE.

Deadline: Friday, May 25, 2018. An additional round of applications will be invited in Fall 2018 if funds remain.

Questions? Contact Sara Hinkley, Associate Director of IRLE at

IRLE funded four working groups for 2017-18:

From Braceros to H2A’s: Discussing the History, Present and Future of Agricultural Guestworker Programs in California

The aim of this group is to organize an event in the Salinas Valley that brings together leading scholars, journalists, and students on the Bracero Program with leaders in the agricultural industry, and elected officials to discuss the legacies of the Bracero Program 1942-1964, and the current workings of the H2-A guest worker program, or “New Bracero Program.” We aim to create a space for dialogue between researchers, agricultural employers, elected officials, students and community members. After the event, we will produce a white paper on best practices and policies.

David Montejano, Professor, Ethnic Studies, senior faculty advisor
Maggie Elmore, Lecturer, History, expert on immigration and guest worker program.
Ignacio Ornelas Rodriguez, visiting research fellow, Center for Latino Policy Research, Lead Organizer, expert on Bracero Program and current H2-A Program.

Contact: Ignacio Rodriguez Ornelas, Center for Latino Policy Research (

Labor, Employment and Race in the Era of Mass Incarceration

We discuss in-depth recent contributions to studies of crime and punishment with particular attention to the extent to which and how the penal system acts as a labor market institution that profoundly shapes individuals’ and groups’ access to economic opportunities, experiences of work, and labor market outcomes.

Christopher Herring, Doctoral Candidate, Sociology
Katherine Hood, Doctoral Candidate, Sociology
Erin Kerrison, Assistant Professor, School of Social Welfare
Armando Lara-Millan, Assistant Professor, Sociology
Amy Lerman, Associate Professor, Public Policy and Political Science
Christopher Muller, Assistant Professor, Sociology
Michael Menefee, Doctoral Student, Sociology
Steven Pitts, Associate Chair, UC Berkeley Labor Center
Dylan Riley, Professor, Sociology
Jared Rudolph, Executive Director, Prisoner Reentry Network
Sandra Smith, Professor, Sociology
Tobias Smith, Doctoral Candidate, Jurisprudence and Social Policy
Bryan L. Sykes, Visiting Scholar, Assistant Professor, Criminology, Law and Society, UC Irvine
Anjuli Verma, Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow, Jurisprudence and Social Policy

Contact: Sandra Susan Smith, Professor of Sociology and 2017-18 Interim Director, IRLE (

Work and Political Economy Research Group

Interdisciplinary working group for faculty and graduate students to discuss and develop research agendas related to labor and employment issues, with a particular focus on law and policy broadly conceived.

This group will bring together doctoral students and faculty from departments across campus for regular meetings to discuss respective research agendas related to labor and employment issues, with a particular focus on law and policy (broadly conceived). A wide range of disciplines, including economics, sociology, business, political science, law, public policy, and others, engage in research related to labor policy — how work is organized, how it is renumerated, and how these choices affect society more broadly. Labor policy has a home in all of these fields, and yet, unfortunately, these fields are not always in dialogue with each other. As such, students and faculty focusing on labor and employment issues may be isolated within their schools and departments, without the benefit of others with topical expertise to sharpen their anlayses. This working group would create a space for precisely such interdepartmental dialogue.

Open to doctoral students from any discipline at UC Berkeley. Contact the coordinators to join.

Contact: Diana Reddy (, doctoral student in Jurisprudence and Socal Policy and Matt Unrath (, doctoral student at the Goldman School of Public Policy.

Labor Policy Group and Berkeley Journal of Employment Law

The Labor Policy Group (LPG) increases GSPP students’ understanding and leadership on issues related to labor policy. The group facilitates conversation and interaction between students and researchers, experts and leaders on labor issues across the UC Berkeley community, the Bay Area and the country.

To come.

Contact: Amanda Gallear, MPP student at the Goldman School of Public Policy (

Contingent Faculty in the UC System

The expansion in the number of Lecturers within the UC system, as well as the university’s increasing dependence on Lecturers to meet one of its core missions of providing an undergraduate education to California residents has been part of the broader transformation of higher education. This working group will examine how this increasing reliance on contingent faculty has developed over time and seek to better understand the working conditions and lives of Lecturers on the UC campuses today.
Contact:Tiffany Page, Lecturer in Sociology(