LERA 20th Annual PhD Student Consortium

Labor Problems of Our Age and Emerging Channels of Worker Voice

Saturday, June 16, 2018, 8 – 11:30 am
Hilton Baltimore, Latrobe
(Held in Conjunction with the LERA 70th Annual Meeting, June 14-17, 2018)


Sponsored by contributions from:
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Labor and Employment Relations
Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations
UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment
MIT Sloan School of Management
University of Pennsylvania Wharton School
University of Toronto Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources
Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations

20th PhD Student Consortium Co-Chairs:

Duanyi Yang Brandon Grant Alex Kowlawski Yao Yao 

Duanyi Yang

Institute of

Brandon Grant

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Alexander Kowalski

Massachusetts Institute of

Yao Yao

University of Toronto


Labor Problems of Our Age and Emerging Channels of Worker Voice

The field of industrial relations was born in the last part of the 19th century out of the motivation to solve the “Labor Problem,” which arose as the ever-expanding market fostered the emergence of industrial production. Pioneer IR scholars constructed various remedies to empower workers and solve the Labor Problem of their age.

The changing nature of work in our age has, however, introduced new challenges to the workforce, economy, and society. The rapid advance of technology has had and will continue to shape the employment relationship and national distributions of income and wealth. For the increasing number of foreign-born and minority workers in the workforce, their fears have been deepened by anti-immigrant rhetoric and events such as those experienced in Charlottesville, Virginia. Recently, we have more and more evidence that sexual harassment is pervasive in and outside the workplace. The “Labor Problem” has thus multiplied into “Labor Problems,” which various disciplines have taken up as subjects of study.

All of these contextual changes have raised fundamental challenges for what may now be more appropriately labeled the field of work and employment relations. As part of this field, we need to better understand the new strategies adopted by employers to organize work in the service and knowledge-based economy and the strategies workers have adopted in response. We need to better understand how workers are organized in the immigrant community and the issues that low wage workers face. We need to better understand why workplace harassment victims are reluctant to speak up and how human resources is failing victims of workplace sexual harassment. Only after we have a better understanding of the new Labor Problems of our age can we work together to come up with solutions to empower our workforce.
We invite leading scholars studying work and employment relations to discuss these challenges and counterbalancing forms of worker voice and advocacy in our PhD Consortium. We will hear insight from leading scholars, hold open-ended discussions with PhD students on major research trends and opportunities, and, together with young scholars, analyze issues related to publication, job market, and career concerns.

2018 LERA PhD Student Consortium Agenda

8:00 - 8:30 am, Breakfast and Introductions
8:30 - 9:00 am, Keynote speech by Michael Piore, MIT
9:00 - 9:10 am, Break
9:10 - 10:10 am, Individual Speakers and Topics
  1. Technology Change and Precarious Work (20 mins), Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld, Brandeis University

  2. Minority and Immigrant Workers: (20 mins), Mark Anner, Penn State University

  3. Women and Sexual Harassment (20 mins), Stacy Hickox, Michigan State University
10:10 - 10:20 am, Q & A and Discussion
10:20 - 10:30 am, Break
10:30 - 11:30 am, Faculty Discuss: Job Market, Publishing, and Career Concerns
  • Dionne Pohler, University of Toronto

  • Maite Tapia, Michigan State University

  • Ryan Lamare, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
11:45 am - 1:45 pm, LERA Presidential Luncheon - tables reserved for LERA PhD Students

Evening activities to be determined


You will have the opportunity to RSVP to this event at the time that you register for the LERA 70th Annual Meeting, June 14-17, 2018, in Baltimore, MD if you forgot to do so, please contact [email protected] so it can be added to your registration.


The registration fee includes a badge that will provide access to both the PhD Student Consortium and to the entire 4 days of LERA meetings being held June 14-17, 2018.

Register at: https://lera.memberclicks.net/70th-lera-anl-mtg. For best price register by the early bird discount deadline, March 25, 2018. Registration fee is deeply discounted for LERA student members.


Depending on fundraising, students attending the Consortium may be reimbursed all or a portion of the early-bird student rate ($125) for their meeting registration fees following the conference. You will need to be present at the consortium and sign-in, and following the conference, checks will mailed to the address you list when you sign-in.