About Us

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Who We Are

The UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education (Labor Center) is a public service and outreach program of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. Founded in 1964, the Labor Center conducts research and education on issues related to labor and employment. The Labor Center’s curricula and leadership trainings serve to educate a diverse new generation of labor leaders. The Labor Center carries out research on topics such as job quality and workforce development issues, and we work with unions, government, and employers to develop innovative policy perspectives and programs. We also provide an important source of research and information on unions and the changing workforce for students, scholars, policymakers and the public.

What We Do

Train a Diverse New
Generation of Leaders

The Labor Center promotes the vitality and effective functioning of California worker organizations and helps educate a diverse new generation of leaders.

Research & Policy Analysis

The Labor Center provides evidence-based analysis to inform public debate and promote policies that help working families—especially in low-income communities, immigrant communities, and communities of color.

Educate & Engage Students
on Worker Issues

The Labor Center strengthens engagement with worker organizations among members of the university community, particularly students.

Our Priorities

Supporting the vital and effective functioning of unions and worker organizations.

Advocating for working families by shaping key trends in our economy and environment.

Building a pipleline for the future.

Our Values

Equity

Race, gender, ethnicity, and immigration status matters in all of our work, so we focus on intersection and impact.

Partnership

We cultivate partnerships around the issues that matter most to unions, community groups, and lawmakers.

Community

We make sure to assess the impact on working people in diverse communities throughout the state.

Unity

Our work focuses on California with an eye toward setting standards and creating models to lead the way for the nation.

Our Areas of Expertise

Future of Work & Workers

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The Labor Center is a leading voice in the maturing conversations about the future of work and workers. We publish reports on gig work and independent contracting in California, and we currently serve as a key resource to stakeholders and state agencies trying to develop policy responses to emerging as well as ongoing problems in the 21st century workplace.

Green Economy

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The Green Economy Program at the Labor Center researches workforce and equity issues related to California’s climate legislation and regulations, focusing not just on the quantity of jobs but also job quality and access for disadvantaged workers. We provide labor, equity, and environmental justice organizations, state agencies, and elected policymakers with technical assistance for building a “social contract” to transition to a low-carbon economy while improving conditions for workers and low-income communities.

Health Care

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Health care research from the Labor Center focuses on analyzing the effects of federal and state health policy on workers, their families, unions, and employers, with an emphasis on California.

Low-Wage Work

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The Labor Center provides ongoing research and policy analysis of low-wage work in California. Our research has focused on wages and working conditions including the public cost of low-wage work and analyses of the retail sector and care industries. We also study and analyze policies to improve wages and working conditions at the local, state, and national levels.

Retirement Security

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The Labor Center’s Retirement Security Program conducts policy-relevant research on low- and middle-wage workers’ retirement income security.

Unions & Worker Organizations

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The Labor Center conducts research on unions and worker organizations and how they affect the lives of working people. This research has included the effects of unions on workers' wages and benefits, how that differs by race, ethnicity and gender, and the role of unions in shaping public policy. The Center analyzes state and local policies that support worker voice on the job and the ability of workers to organize. We also study the effectiveness of organizing and bargaining strategies and methods.

Our Leadership Development Programs

Workshops & Leadership Schools

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The Leadership Development Program helps worker and community organizations conduct their work more strategically. We also provide technical assistance to worker centers, unions and community organizations focused on worker issues.

Labor-Management Partnerships

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The Labor Center builds the capacity of unions and high road employers to work collaboratively to solve challenges in their industry, including but not limited to workforce skills development.

Our Campus Engagement Programs

Labor Studies

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Our Labor Studies program introduces undergraduate and graduate students to labor and employment issues. Through classroom-based learning, research, and field work with worker centers, unions and community organizations, students from different disciplines engage with organizers and leaders to deepen their understanding of the history, goals, strategies, and current challenges of the labor movement.

Labor Summer Internship

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Our Labor Summer Internship Program, now 20 years old, connects undergraduate and graduate students with paid learning opportunities in organizing and research with unions and community groups in Northern California.