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

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.

Lisa Kresgeand MT Snyder

35 Years Under Electronic Monitoring and Still Waiting for Worker Rights

A 1987 report from the federal Office of Technology Assessment recognized the potential for employers to misuse and abuse new technologies resulting in adverse effects for workers, but recommended a “wait and see” approach due to lack of data to justify regulation. This blog post reviews decades of research since publication of the report that finds electronic performance monitoring (EPM) systems do increase worker stress and cause other harms.

Press Coverage

Bloomberg Law

Striking Hollywood Writers Have Few Options to Stop AI Creep

More and more unions are bargaining for advanced notice of new technology from employers, helping them understand in real time whether it will displace workers or change the environment, said Lisa Kresge, a researcher at the University of California-Berkeley who studies tech clauses in union contracts.

Orange County Register

Uber, Lyft drivers protest low wages, unsafe work conditions

Under Prop. 22, California rideshare drivers are guaranteed 120% of California’s $15.50-per-hour minimum wage — but only for their engaged time, rather than total work time. Drivers typically spend about 33% of their time waiting between rides or returning from trips to outlying areas, according to a study by the UC Berkeley Labor Center.

Program Contacts