Working Group Awardees

2018-19

Formerly justice-involved students engaged in research on the criminal justice system, labor markets, and inequality.

The goal of the group is to promote and support rigorous academic research by formerly justice-involved students who are members of the Underground Scholars Initiative at UCB. Students are already engaged in a number of individual and group research projects related to criminal record stigma in the labor market, hiring practices related to individuals with criminal records, the job search process among individuals with a criminal record, and mutual support and cooperation among students who were previously involved in gangs. We will accomplish our goals through weekly meetings, opportunities for training and skill development, and networking with academic researchers at UCB and across the country who work on similar research topics. We also hope to lay the groundwork for a national network of formerly-justice involved researchers. We hope to host one or more speakers in collaboration with the IRLE speaker series who can meet with our group as well during their visit to campus.

Participants:
David Harding, Associate Professor, Sociology
Mac Hoang, Undergraduate, Sociology
Michael Alferes, MPP Student, Goldman School
Michael Cerda-Jara, Undergraduate, Sociology
Juan Flores, Undergraduate, Sociology
Sammie Gilmore, Undergraduate, Social Welfare
Fernando Galindo, Undergraduate, Sociology
Brennan McLean, Outreach Coordinator for New Campus Sober Living Initiative and BA in Media Studies, 2018
(additional USI students to be recruited)

Contact: David Harding, Associate Professor, Sociology (dharding@berkeley.edu)


What kind of immigration reform is needed for California agriculture?

This working group aims to find adequate answers to the following questions:

  • How has the political debate about “low-skilled” immigration evolved since the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act?
  • What would an agricultural immigration reform program look like that benefited not only large farms and farm labor contractors but also family farms and the immigrant workers themselves?
  • How is it possible to make such a reform politically feasible and to influence the relevant policy makers?

In recent years, growers and labor contractors have been lamenting about not being able to find enough workers to pick vegetables and fruits in the fields. The labor shortage is indeed neither new nor unique to California nor, indeed, to the agricultural sector, as a combination of a militarized border and low unemployment has created a variety of labor shortages. Because domestic workers avoid seasonal agricultural work due to the difficult working conditions—and because they have other options—and because undocumented immigration has declined drastically due to economic growth in Mexico, high fees for getting across the border, and a hostile political environment—the agricultural sector appears to experience a more drastic labor shortage than other sectors that are also considered ‘low-skilled’ , (for instance, construction, food processing and/or hospitality).

Meanwhile, employment conditions in California agriculture are undergoing a transformation. This transformation includes the introduction of time-and-a-half pay for farm workers after eight working hours per day (or 40 hours per week) , while the minimum wage (applicable to all sectors) is set to rise to USD 15,00 per hour by January 2022.
Because of the severe shortage in labor combined with the changes in working conditions in agriculture, family farms face significant challenges as large-scale farms are likely to further consolidate. This trend may be worrisome for labor as small farms are more likely to hire workers directly by not relying on a labor contractor while large farms are more likely to do so. While labor contractors are not necessarily fraudulent, cases of labor abuses as a result of labor contractor employment are well documented.

Therefore, this working group aims to investigate what type of immigration reform is needed to benefit family farms that are trying to treat their workers well while also giving immigrant farm workers traditional American labor rights.

Participants:
Christy Getz (Environmental Science, Policy and Management)
Vera Chang (Environmental Science, Policy and Management – PhD student)
Maria Echaveste (Law)
Ron Strochlic (Nutrition Policy Institute)
Nina Ichikawa (Food Institute)
Ann Thrupp (Food Institute)
Johanna Schenner (visiting post-doc at IRLE)
David Runsten (Community Alliance for Family Farmers)

Contact: L. Ann Thrupp Berkeley Food Institute/College of Natural Resources, Executive Director, BFI (athrupp@berkeley.edu)


Employment and Unionization Patterns of 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.

Participants:
Khalid Kadir, Continuing Lecturer, International and Area Studies
Joanna Reed, Continuing Lecturer, Sociology
Kurt Spreyer, Continuing Lecturer, ESPM
Kristin George, graduate student, Sociology
Crystal Chang, Lecturer, International and Area Studies
Tiffany Page, Continuing Lecturer, International and Area Studies

Contact: Tiffany Page International and Area Studies, Lecturer (paget@berkeley.edu).


Workplace and Labor Market Stratification Working Group

The goals of this working group are threefold. First, students will have the opportunity to workshop their own research and receive feedback from an interdisciplinary group of graduate students and more senior scholars. At each meeting, working group members will discuss up to two student papers. A pre-appointed student discussant will lead the conversation about both theoretical and methodological strengths and weaknesses of the piece, with specific emphasis on revisions that may improve the work’s appeal to a wider range of scholars.

Second, we plan to host four guest speakers throughout the semester – two from UC Berkeley, and two visiting scholars. Group members will collectively decide upon the invited speakers, and graduate students will have the opportunity to act as discussants for these speakers. The working group will strive to invite speakers from multiple disciplines and diverse backgrounds in order to give students the opportunity to learn from the broad academic community studying work.

Participants:
Professor Daniel Schneider, Sociology
Carmen Brick, Sociology
Adam Storer, Sociology
Sigrid Luhr, Sociology
Joshua Chopper, Sociology
Joe LaBriola, Sociology
Christopher Herring, Sociology
Alicia Sheares, Sociology
Moon Choi, Epidemiology
Maria Dieci, Health Policy
Alexa Magyari, Health Policy

Contact: Carmen Brick, Sociology, carmenbrick@berkeley.edu, Holly Stewart, Epidemiology, (holly.stewart@berkeley.edu)

Work and Political Economy Research Group

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 remunerated, 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 analyses. This working group would create a space for precisely such interdepartmental dialogue.

Participants:
TBA

Contact:  Matt Unrath, Public Policy, Doctoral Student (unrath@berkeley.edu).

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.

Participants:
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 (ornelas@berkeley.edu)


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.

Participants:
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 (sandra_smith@berkeley.edu)


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.

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

Contact: Diana Reddy (dsreddy@berkeley.edu), doctoral student in Jurisprudence and Socal Policy and Matt Unrath (unrath@berkeley.edu), 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.

Participants:
To come.

Contact: Amanda Gallear, MPP student at the Goldman School of Public Policy (amanda.gallear@gmail.com)