Labor Day 2021: How COVID-19 transformed work
August 24, 2021
The following Cornell University labor experts are available to weigh in on the increased focus on workplace safety, gig economy growth, unemployment and employee shortages, climate jobs, social justice at work and more.
Alexander Colvin, dean of the ILR School, is a work, labor and employment scholar. Dean Colvin can speak about the impact coronavirus has had on workers and organizations in the global economy and the future of work in America including labor policy, worker activism and employer practices.
Increased focus on workplace safety
Nellie Brown is a certified industrial hygienist and director of workplace health and safety programs for the Worker Institute. She can offer expertise and insight on how businesses can keep their employees and customers safe. Throughout the pandemic, Brown has led trainings for companies and unions focused on COVID-19 measures and best practices to safely return to the workplace.
Essential workers during the pandemic
Patricia Campos-Medina is the executive director of the Worker Institute and has served as a policy advisor to labor unions and worker justice organizations seeking to expand organizing rights to workers in the warehousing and service industries. She has been involved in efforts to pass legislation to offer pandemic protections for essential workers and can discuss how governments and business have the responsibility to take action to protect workers.
Gig economy growth
Ileen DeVault is a professor of labor history and the academic director of the Worker Institute. She can discuss how gig-workers lack the legal protections that most regular employees enjoy and as a result, are more vulnerable to the consequences of economic downswings and workplace safety risks related to Covid-19.
To respond to these issues, ILR also held a webinar to evaluate the policy and organizing solutions proposed and developed before the outbreak, and for the need to adjust such solutions to the new realities of the workplace caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
Employment, unemployment, employee shortages
Erica Groshen is senior economics advisor at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations and a labor statistics expert. She is a former commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and has written extensively on how economies can recover from recessions. She can speak on unemployment rates and the labor market.
Vanessa Bohns is an associate professor of organizational behavior and studies social influence, and the psychology of compliance and consent. She can speak to topics related to dynamics of influence and power at play in the workplace including how to avoid burnout, build more trusting relationships at work and approaches to workplace harassment.
Virtual, remote work strategies
Bradford Bell is a professor in strategic human resources and director of the Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies. He can provide expertise on remote work strategies including post-pandemic remote work practices.
Climate jobs, clean energy economy
Lara Skinner is the director of the Worker Institute’s Labor Leading on Climate Initiative and an expert on labor and employment issues related to sustainability, climate protection and clean energy. She can speak to clean energy transitions and their impact on labor and employment as well as advances in policies and practices to enhance the role of labor and working people in addressing the environmental and climate crises.
Social justice at work
Courtney McCluney is an assistant professor of organizational behavior and her research deepens the study of race, gender, and intersectionality in organizations by examining practices that create and reinforce marginalized groups' experiences at work. She can talk about the challenges and benefits of remote work for employees of color, the emotional cost of codeswitching in the workplace and diversity and inclusion training and initiatives.
Employment and disability
Susanne Bruyère is a professor of disability studies and the academic director of the Yang-Tan Institute on Employment and Disability. She can talk about effective workplace practices for people with disabilities.
Alan Hedge, professor emeritus of design and environmental analysis and ergonomics expert can weigh in on workstation design, computer ergonomics, the performance and health effects of postural strain, the health and comfort impacts of various environmental stressors, and the effects of office lighting on eyestrain problems among computer workers.
Risky decision making, implications for health
Valerie Reyna, professor of human development, studies the neuroscience of risky decision making and its implications for health and well-being. She can weigh in on how changing advice contributes to the perception that experts might not know what they are doing, and how emotions and actions in reaction to a risk depend crucially on how people understand the risk.
Mask wearing in the workplace
Juan Hinestroza, professor of fiber science, explores new pathways for creating multifunctional fibers at the nanoscale level. Hinestroza and his team are working on developing new fibers that can be used to prevent the spread of disease and can comment on mask wearing in the workplace.