The Labor Center understands that workers are whole human beings whose lives go beyond their workplace and whose work lives are deeply affected by what happens in their communities. When Black people suffer racist attacks in their communities—whether the attacks come in the form of police and extrajudicial violence, or underfunded public education, or exposure to environmental degradation, or mass incarceration—these are workers’ rights issues.
Future of Work & Workers
Labor Center Leadership
Area of Expertise
Labor Market Research
Living Wage and Labor Standards Policies
Technology and Work
Enforcement of Employment and Labor Laws
Immigrants and Work
Low-Wage Service Industries
Annette Bernhardt is director of the Technology and Work Program at the UC Berkeley Labor Center, as well as a senior researcher at the UC Berkeley Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. She recently was visiting professor in the UC Berkeley Sociology Department, as well as a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. Previously she was policy co-director of the National Employment Law Project, where she coordinated policy analysis and research support for campaigns around living wage jobs, enforcement of workers’ rights, and accountable development. A leading scholar of low-wage work, Dr. Bernhardt has helped develop and analyze innovative policy responses to economic restructuring in the United States. She was one of the principal investigators of the landmark study Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers, which documented high rates of minimum wage, overtime, and other workplace violations in the low-wage labor market. She has also been a leader in collaborating with immigrant worker centers and unions to develop innovative models of community-based research. Her current research focuses on domestic outsourcing, the gig economy, and the impact of new technologies on low-wage work. Dr. Bernhardt’s most recent book is the co-edited The Gloves-Off Economy: Workplace Standards at the Bottom of America’s Labor Market. She has also published widely in journals such as the American Journal of Sociology, the American Sociological Review, and the Journal of Labor Economics, among others. Dr. Bernhardt received her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Chicago in 1993.
Part of the Labor Center’s Covid-19 Series: Resources, Data, and Analysis for California. This chart pack focuses on unemployed workers and essential workers in California.
Physical Proximity to Others in California’s Workplaces: Occupational Estimates and Demographic and Job Characteristics
In this research brief, we build on our previous research on essential workers, but use new data and broaden the analysis to the full range of occupations in the California labor market to help answer these questions: As the economy reopens, what levels of COVID-19 exposure risk will workers face when they return to their workplace? What are the demographic characteristics of these workers? And what jobs do they hold?
In this blog, we provide a profile of front-line essential jobs in California likely to be at risk of workplace exposure to the coronavirus in terms of the prevalence of low-wage work and their demographic characteristics, focusing on front-line occupations that are likely to be most at risk of workplace exposure.
Industries at Direct Risk of Job Loss from COVID-19 in California: A Profile of Front-Line Job and Worker Characteristics
In this blog, we focus on potential differences in the economic impacts on California’s workers, by analyzing major industries that are at highest risk of job losses or hours reduction stemming from social distancing and public health directives to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Instead, policymakers should focus on traditional approaches that will boost the economy as a whole. Pandemic responses should aim to support businesses and workers—both salaried and non-salaried—alike, addressing inequality through a focus on its root causes and industry-level trends. This last point was captured by Annette Bernhardt, a labor economist at U.C. Berkeley, who found little evidence of “a strong, unambiguous shift toward nonstandard or contingent forms of work—especially in contrast to the dramatic increase in wage inequality.”
“BLS statistics are just not picking up workers who do independent contracting on the side, for supplemental income in addition to a W-2 job,” says University of California economist Annette Bernhardt PhD., author of “The Gloves-off Economy.” “This is a real significant challenge to understanding what’s going on in the labor market.”
Much of the automation-driven jobs losses that basic income seeks to remedy may still be decades, if not generations away. In the meantime, it’s important to remember that work will remain the primary source of income for workers and families now and for the foreseeable future. Good jobs still matter.
Yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling on Harris v. Quinn may seem like a narrow decision on the technical details of union dues. In fact, it lays bare one of the fundamental injustices to workers’ rights in the U.S., and a looming policy failure as the country struggles to care for a rapidly aging population.