IRLE’s mission is to promote better understanding of the conditions, policies, and institutions that affect the well-being of workers and their families and communities. We inform public debate with hard evidence about inequality, the economy, and the nature of work. Sandra Smith served as IRLE’s Interim Director during 2017–18. This was a time of exciting growth. IRLE expanded our engagement with students through a range of new programs, launched new research programs, and continued to expand the resources we offer faculty.
Some of the highlights of our year:
- Awarded 17 IRLE Faculty Research Grants—$274,548 total—to UC Berkeley faculty for research and events.
- Held a conference to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics (CWED).
- The California Policy Lab held a convening of experts to discuss ways to better serve California’s high needs population.
- Held a year-long speaker series featuring experts from around the country, in conversation with Berkeley faculty.
- Hosted two all-day research workshops featuring the work of our visiting scholars, and two colloquia on issues facing agricultural workers.
- Launched a Labor Studies program with three courses in Public Policy and multiple pathways for undergraduate and graduate students to gain experience in communityengaged research.
- Supported the launch of The Shift Project, IRLE faculty affiliate Danny Schneider’s research hub studying unstable work scheduling.
- Grew the California Policy Lab: added five new staff and obtained over $3 million in new grant funding.
- Piloted an IRLE undergraduate research apprenticeship program, modeled on the campus program, matching 28 students with research mentors to pursue real-world projects on work and workers.
- Funded four working groups to explore issues related to agricultural labor, mass incarceration, and labor and political economy.
- Expanded grants administration capacity to support faculty seeking external funding, nearly tripling the volume of proposals submitted.
- Completed renovations to provide more usable office space, improved conferencing technology, and drop-in work space for students and faculty.
The following pages detail the impressive work of IRLE and its Centers in raising the profile of working people in public debates and developing cutting-edge analysis of the issues that shape workers’ lives, including wages, the safety net, and legal rights. We are proud to have greatly expanded the scope and depth of IRLE’s engagement with students, faculty, policymakers, and the labor movement.
-Jesse Rothstein, Director of IRLE, on sabbatical 2017-19 Professor of Economics and Public Policy
-Sandra Smith, Interim Director of IRLE, 2017-2018 Professor of Sociology