Understanding how technological changes may unfold in different industries is essential for developing effective solutions to the challenges that workers face. In this report, we synthesize the findings of five industry studies: trucking, warehouses, health care, retail, and food delivery.
Co-Director, Green Economy Program
About Jessie HF
Jessie HF Hammerling is the co-director of the Green Economy program at the Labor Center. Her work examines the impacts of climate change and clean energy policy on workers and communities. She works in collaboration with government, industry, unions, and community stakeholders to develop strategies for fighting climate change that lead to quality jobs and equitable outcomes. In prior years, Dr. Hammerling worked with the Labor Center’s Technology and Work program, where she led research on how employers are using new technologies in the workplace, and developed new training for unions on these topics. Other areas of work have included research on outsourcing, financialization, and food systems. Prior to joining the Labor Center, she worked at COWS in Madison, Wisconsin. Dr. Hammerling holds a Ph.D. in geography from UC Davis and a master’s degree in international public affairs from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
After decades of inaction and failed attempts, the U.S. has finally passed federal legislation addressing climate change. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is groundbreaking not only in its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also in how it demonstrates that we don’t have to choose between good jobs and action on the climate. By including strong labor standards in incentives for clean energy and energy efficiency work, the IRA will help build a high-road green economy, creating good jobs and clear pathways into them.
Financial Drivers of Domestic Outsourcing: Case Study of Food Services in the San Francisco Bay Area
IRLE Working Paper. This paper examines drivers of domestic outsourcing through a case study of food services.
Penalties and Premiums: An Investigation of Inter-Firm Transactions and Wages Across Industries in the U.S.
IRLE Working Paper. This paper explores the correlation between inter-firm transactions (IFT) and workers’ wages across industries in the U.S., in order to further our understanding of outsourcing-related wage penalties.
IRLE Working Paper. This paper explores trends in inter-firm transactions (IFT) in the U.S. in relation to the varied approaches that researchers have used to study domestic outsourcing.
“All these new jobs that are going to be created [in] actually implementing the work needed to respond to climate change and shift our economy away from fossil fuels are jobs that we want to be good jobs, union jobs, and well-paid jobs with good career pathways,” Hammerling said. “It’s giving the building trades the opportunity to be at the center of building the clean energy economy.”
“This looks like a fairly extreme case of technology scaling back the human’s role in a particular work process,” Jessie Hammerling.
“There’s often white-collar tech workers doing the exact same work — a contractor and an employee sitting right next to each other, working on the same projects — but with different employers of record and different pay and benefits,” says Jessie HF Hammerling, a researcher at the UC Berkeley Labor Center.
“We have a fairly tight labor market right now and low unemployment,” said Jessie Hammerling, a researcher at the UC Berkeley Labor Center. “And I think that helps give workers greater confidence to stand up.”
Jessie Hammerling spoke about the increasing use by Google’s data centers of temps, vendors, and contractors, instead of workers directly employed by Google, as a way to appear more productive to investors.
Automation doesn’t always eliminate human roles entirely, but “this looks like a fairly extreme case of technology scaling back the human’s role in a particular work process,” says Jessie Hammerling at the Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California, Berkeley, who studies the impact of new technologies on work.
And Hammerling, who studies the future of work at UC Berkeley, said those who have do their jobs in person –– at restaurants, hospitals, grocery stores –– usually make less than people who can work from home, and the pandemic has only brought more attention to this inequality in the labor market.
Jessie Hammerling, lead researcher for the Technology and Work Program at the UC Berkeley Labor Center, said it is wise to be cautious with assumptions about automation.
“If your employer is going to stop you coming in the door because you have a temperature, it would also be really good if (the) employer was offering paid sick leave,” Jessie HF Hammerling said. “So that workers don’t have an incentive to try to sneak into work when they might potentially be infected.”
As businesses start to reopen, some are turning to technology to figure out how to make workplaces safer. Michelle Quinn reports on the tradeoffs.