Scholars and practitioners come together to advance worker organizing

The Labor Research and Action Network (LRAN) is a new network for scholars and practitioners to collaborate around the goal of advancing a progressive workers’ movement.

On June 12, Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor hosted LRAN’s second annual conference. Nearly 200 professors, nonprofit scholars, and students, as well as leaders and staff from unions and worker centers, attended the conference. They came from California, Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, and throughout the Northeast to learn best practices and generate new ideas for expanding worker organizing. PulitzerPrize–winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson urged the group to tell stories in the course of their efforts: “The power of narrative comes when your audience sees themselves in the story and they ask themselves: What would I do?” Panelists spoke about innovative organizing campaigns and new research that sheds light on these efforts. And smaller groups assembled to strategize on a wide range of topics, including: private equity, occupational safety, campus organizing, international labor efforts, and a burgeoning network of black labor scholars.

For those of us fighting an often uphill battle to see that workers have representation on the job, the LRAN conference gave us a much-needed shot of positive energy and excitement. There are many of us conducting research in support of workers across the country. The better we coordinate and collaborate, the more impact we can have.

The Labor Research and Action Network is a project of American Rights at Work Education Fund. To get involved, contact Erin Johansson.

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