Climate change, sexual harassment burden NYS workplaces

Climate change, sexual harassment, dangers for delivery workers and expungement of criminal records are among the workplace issues that trouble New Yorkers, according to a new report by Cornell labor and workplace experts.

The ILR School’s first “New York at Work” annual report offers the state’s workers, unions and employers research-based data and policy analysis on these issues and a range of others.

Climate change emerged as a major concern among 800 New York residents polled. About 70% said extreme weather events had an economic impact on their local community in the past five years. And about 75% support public investments in renewable energy projects as a way to create high-quality jobs and said that state labor, industry and government leaders should do more to respond to climate change.

Cornell impacting New York State

“Our inaugural annual New York state policy report is a wonderful illustration of the many important labor, employment and work-related issues that we engage with,” said Ariel Avgar, Ph.D.’08, ILR associate dean for outreach. “ILR Outreach has tremendous impact across the state through our policy work, applied research and trainings, built around multiple innovative institutes and programs that serve as our centers on work.”

Other findings in the report include:

  • About half of New York City food delivery workers surveyed reported having been in an accident or crash while working; of these workers, 75% said that they had paid for the medical care with personal funds. More than half of workers surveyed had had their bikes stolen; about 30% were physically assaulted during the thefts; and 42% reported nonpayment or underpayment; and
  • One-third of women and 19% of men polled in New York have experienced at least one form of sexual harassment in the workplace. Nearly 22% have experienced workplace sexual harassment that created a hostile work environment, while nearly 11% have experienced quid pro quo workplace sexual harassment.

“The ‘New York at Work Report’ shows the breadth and depth of the research and policy analysis being done at ILR that can help the state address key issues in the world of work,” said Alex Colvin, Ph.D.’99, ILR’s Kenneth F. Kahn ’69 Dean and the Martin F. Scheinman ’75, ’M.S. ’76, Professor of Conflict Resolution. “This will be the first edition of an important new annual contribution to ILR’s outreach mission.”

ILR Outreach, comprising about 165 employees based in Ithaca, New York City and Buffalo, conducts around $10 million dollars in sponsored research each year and currently has 25 social science research projects in progress that focus on work, employment and labor issues. Outreach educational programs on topics such as human resources, labor relations and conflict resolution have served more than 100,000 participants since March 2020.

The 2021 report includes eight sections:

  • Data for a Just Recovery in New York: Toward Racial and Worker Justice in the COVID-19 Era and Beyond;
  • Power and Voice at Work: New Yorkers View Employer Retaliation as a Barrier to Addressing Workplace Problems and Express Desire for Union Representation;
  • Interactive Mapping of COVID during the Pandemic;
  • New York Expungement of Criminal Records to Increase Access to Employment;
  • The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA): Policy and Implementation Issues;
  • How New York State Can Tackle Climate Change, Reverse Inequality and Build a Robust, Equitable Clean Energy Economy: Key Challenges and Recommendations;
  • Stopping Sexual Harassment in the Empire State: Past, Present and a Possible Future; and
  • Essential Delivery: Working Conditions of App-Based Food Couriers in New York City.

Beginning in 2022, ILR will publish “New York at Work” on Labor Day.

Mary Catt is director of communications for the ILR School.