For many decades, the labor research and education programs at IRLE and our centers have reliably provided policymakers and stakeholders in California and beyond with high-quality, policy-relevant research on the most critical issues affecting our state’s working families. Our research informs policymaking on labor and industry standards across vital industries, from healthcare and child care to construction and the emerging gig economy. We also foster community and student engagement — particularly among Black, Indigenous, immigrant, and communities of color — so that we can nurture leadership that reflects the diversity of California.

Shaping Policy

“The research coming out of IRLE on the pressing issues facing working people today is invaluable for protecting the rights of workers and understanding California’s economy.”

Congressman Mark DeSaulnier

Among other recent achievements, our policy research, technical assistance, and training programs played an important role in:

Shifting Media Narratives

“The Berkeley team builds on a tradition of headline-making, mind-changing research.”

Andrew Van Dam, Washington Post, on research from the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics

State and national media, including major outlets like The New York TimesWashington PostLos Angeles TimesSacramento Bee, and CalMatters, frequently cite our studies and seek out commentary and insights from our experts.

Providing Government Testimony and Technical Assistance

Our researchers provide expert testimony and technical assistance on labor standards and other policies to a broad range of stakeholders, including state and city legislators and agencies, regional and national think tanks, community-based organizations, unions, and foundations. Notable stakeholders include:

  • U.S. Department of Education
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families
  • U.S. Department of Labor
  • U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Federal Reserve Board
  • National Council of State Legislatures
  • California Attorney General’s Office
  • California Assembly Health Committee

Training a New Generation of Labor Scholars and Leaders

Each year, IRLE’s dissertation fellowships, graduate student research awards, and Social Sciences Research Pathways program provide funding and research experience to over 100 Berkeley undergraduate and graduate students.

Our student engagement program connects students directly with worker organizations through academic credit field study classes and paid student internships. From 2019-2022, we reached nearly 1,400 students through our classes and programs.

The Labor Center’s leadership development program helps worker and community organizations conduct their work more strategically. In the past three years, nearly 4,000 workers participated in our programs.

Annual Reports

Explore our impact year by year.