The Centre for Global Labour Research: Professor Ruth Milkman Visit
11 March 2008
Ends: 20 March 2008
Professor Ruth Milkman
Professor Ruth Milkman visited the Centre for Global Labour Research and the School of Social Sciences from Tuesday 11 March until 20 March 2008. She is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at University of California, Los Angeles. Her research focus is on work and unionism in the U.S. in the past and present, and especially its relationship to gender and immigration.
Ruth has published widely. Her books include GENDER AT WORK (1987), FAREWELL TO THE FACTORY (1997) and most recently, L.A. STORY: IMMIGRANT WORKERS AND THE FUTURE OF THE U.S. LABOR MOVEMENT (2006). She is currently engaged in two research projects. One is a study (in collaboration with Annette Bernhardt, Nik Theodore, and Doug Heckathorn) of low-wage workers and labor law violations in L.A., New York and Chicago, using Respondent Driven Sampling. She is also studying California's new paid family leave program, particularly its effectiveness for low-wage workers - Further Details.
SOCSI Annual Thompson Lecture
While at the School Ruth was the keynote speaker for the ‘Annual Thompson’s Lecture. The title of her presentation was "Immigrants and Labour Organizing: Perspectives from the USA". She provided an engaging account of the development of labour organising in the US, with particular reference to the role and place of immigrants in this process. One of the notable points that she made is that immigrant workers have long played a leading part in the development of trade unions in the USA. In her detailed illustration of the current debate on migration reform in the USA, Ruth highlighted the direct impact that tighter state’s migration regulation has on the labour movement (considering in particular the large number of undocumented migrants,) as well as the various challenges arising from these developments for unions. The presentation stimulated a lively discussion among the fifty plus audience.
Ruth gave two other presentations:
13 March, 2008: ‘Workers and the labour movement in California: Problems and Prospects’, to the School of Social Sciences Public lecture Series. In this presentation Ruth opened up a discussion about the changes and developments within the Californian labour movement, developed and interesting thesis about the ‘comparative advantage of backwardness.’ She argued that the opposition by employers and the state to the labour movement, and hence the relative underdevelopment of the labour movement in this state, provided the opportunity for the labour movement to develop in important ways over the last two decades. Some of these arguments can be found in her book, L.A. STORY: IMMIGRANT WORKERS AND THE FUTURE OF THE U.S. LABOR MOVEMENT (Russell Sage Foundation, 2006)
19 March 2008: ‘The US Labor Movement in the 21st Century: Segmentation, Experimentation and Future Visions’, to the Cardiff Business School. This presentation addressed the ways in which employment in the USA has long been segmented in decisive ways, with decisive implications for the labour movement. The seminar debated the forms and character of the labour movement and drew out a number of different themes to begin to explain the complex developments that are taking place in the USA.
Apart from these presentations, Ruth met a range of staff and students in both the School of Social Sciences and the Business School. In particular, a number of postgraduate students took Ruth out to dinner on the evening of Wednesday, 19 March. This was an evening marked by debate and good fun.
Gabriella Alberti, a PhD student at SOCSI, interviewed Ruth during her stay. The article based on this interview was entitled "The Beginning of a Debate"
Article by Peter Fairbrother
Ruth Milkman: Selected Books
L.A. STORY: IMMIGRANT WORKERS AND THE FUTURE OF THE U.S. LABOR MOVEMENT (Russell Sage Foundation, 2006)
REBUILDING LABOR: ORGANIZING AND ORGANIZERS IN THE NEW UNION MOVEMENT (co-edited with Kim Voss) (Cornell University Press, 2004)
ORGANIZING IMMIGRANTS: THE CHALLENGE FOR UNIONS IN CONTEMPORARY CALIFORNIA (edited volume) (Cornell University Press, 2000) See also http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/books/10/
FAREWELL TO THE FACTORY: AUTOMOBILE WORKERS IN THE LATE 20TH CENTURY (University of California Press, 1997)
GENDER AT WORK: THE DYNAMICS OF JOB SEGREGATION BY SEX DURING WORLD WAR II (University of Illinois Press, 1987)
Open To: Staff and Students