Future of Work & Workers

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The Labor Center conducts in-depth research on how work is changing in the US labor market, especially for low-wage workers, women, immigrants, and workers of color. Our research helps policymakers, unions, and other stakeholders respond to the challenges and opportunities facing workers in the years ahead. We consider both new and ongoing trends, including technological change, outsourcing, and gig work.

The impact of new technologies in the workplace, and how workers and public policy can respond

Independent contracting, gig work, and employee misclassification

Fissured workplaces, subcontracting, and effects on wages and job quality

Research & Publications

Annette Bernhardt, Lisa Kresgeand Kung Feng

Response to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Request for Information on Automated Worker Surveillance and Management

Our goal in this comment is to highlight evidence indicating the prevalence of automated workplace surveillance and management technologies, impact on workers resulting from employers’ use of these systems, and principles and policy models for worker technology rights and protections.

Sara Hinkley

Technology in the public sector and the future of government work

This report explores how governments use technology, what drives technology adoption, and how technologies affect public sector workers and the delivery of public services. Using examples across local, state, and federal governments, the report finds that transparency and accountability have lagged behind rapid technology adoption in the wake of COVID-19, and that public sector workers play a critical role in ensuring that technology is used to strengthen the ability of governments to provide quality and equitable public services.

Press Coverage

New York Times

Tech Fears Are Showing Up on Picket Lines

“If technologies are not developed with the user in mind, they often fail,” said Lisa Kresge, a research and policy associate at the University of California Berkeley Labor Center, who has written about union responses to technology.

Truck Tech blog

Autonomous Shockwaves Start to Hit Home

The Teamsters cite a 2018 study by the U.C. Berkeley Labor Center on autonomous trucks which notes that, “Without policy intervention, automation will likely eliminate high- and mid-wage trucking jobs, while creating low-quality driving jobs (in their place).”

Capital & Main

Tales of a Second Generation Hourly Worker

California may have an active labor movement and labor-friendly political leaders in control of its Legislature and many city councils. But almost one in three California workers — 4.3 million people — are employed in a job that pays less than $18.02 per hour, according to a UC Berkeley Labor Center data explorer.

Program Contacts