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School for Workers faculty members actively seek to discover and disseminate knowledge through applied research, community research, grant-funded research, and scholarly research for publication. The school’s research work is collaborative, with keen insights and impactful bottom-up solutions; focusing on how to create results, programs, and policies to best support today’s workforce, while exploring ideas and making real contributions that directly enhance a worker’s day-to-day life.

Research highlights

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Essential Immigrant Workers, Inequality and COVID-19 project

In partnership with two university co-principal investigators – Civil Society and Community Studies and Planning and Landscape Architecture – and with the Milwaukee-based community organization Voces de la Frontera, the research team will document and address the threats to health and safety that essential immigrant workers face during the COVID-19 pandemic. The team will take a two-pronged approach to these problems, examining both occupational health and safety issues and housing insecurity by training research assistants and members of the communities to document problems and generate knowledge that can contribute to solutions.

State of the Unions

School for Workers, in partnership with Midwest Economic Policy Institute, Illinois Economic Policy Institute, and University of Illinois developed an annual report The State of the Unions, A Profile of Unionization in Wisconsin and in the United States examining current unionization data, trends, and the effects on workers.

Voices of Wisconsin Workers: A community engaged study of essential workers during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic

In the United States, COVID-19 has devastated the lives of essential workers, their families and their communities. While many in the U.S. can work from home during the pandemic, those who grow and prepare the country’s food, care for the sick, maintain the state’s infrastructure, and educate the nation’s children must leave home to do their jobs. These workers face risk of infection and illness each day on the job. Workers of color and Latinx workers face greater risks than their non-Latinx, white counterparts and suffer poorer health outcomes as a result. This report, prepared by the University of Wisconsin School for Workers in partnership with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute presents the concerns about workplace safety expressed by workers in several industries deemed essential. These workers play a vital role in the well-being of all Wisconsin residents and the economy and deserve to be kept safe and healthy and have their voices be heard.

Wisconsin Public Worker Unions Post Act 10

As labor educators and faculty of the School for Workers we researched and documented the impact to Wisconsin public worker unions of Act 10, what union structures and practices changed since its enactment; and how well unions have adapted to the new labor relations environment. Using the considerable published literature and government documents related to this topic as well as interviews of over 20 Wisconsin public worker union leaders from four key unions, we developed a research project to achieve these goals. The unions included were the American Federation of Teachers (AFT-Wisconsin), American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC), an affiliate of the National Education Association. The findings have been peer-reviewed and published by the Labor Studies Journal.

Providing leadership for discovery and the dissemination of knowledge in its many forms.