Dear friend of the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment,
This spring, Dulce Matuz was #23 on Time magazine's list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. Don't know who Dulce Matuz is? You will. Dulce, an activist undocumented student from Arizona, joined the UCLA Labor Center's Dream Summer 2011, along with 101 other young immigrant activists. This year the Labor Center, IRLE's largest unit, has raised over $700,000 for an even larger Dream Summer 2012, placing young undocumented youth in cities all over the country with immigrant-serving organizations-and developing a new generation of leadership in the immigrant rights movement.
Dream Summer is making a difference in the world, and that is the trademark of the Institute's programs. This spirit was in evidence at April's Action Summit for Worker Safety and Health, organized by IRLE's Labor Occupational Safety and Health program (LOSH). U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis led the event, which also included California Labor Commissioner Julie Su, CalOSHA Director Ellen Widess, LA County Federation of Labor leader Maria Elena Durazo, and LOSH Director Linda Delp.
The spirit of making a difference also animated the May panel discussion on "The role of human resource leaders in organizational change" presented by IRLE's Human Resource Round Table (HARRT). HARRT's David Lewin (a professor at UCLA's Anderson School of Management) was joined by Cornell professor Patrick Wright and Richard Antoine, President of the National Academy of Human Resources.
That spirit was present, as well, at the first meeting of Experiences Organizing Informal Workers, a global research network organized by the IRLE Academic unit. The workshop brought together scholars from Brazil, Canada, China, India, Mexico, South Africa, South Korea, and the US to launch comparative research on how informal workers are organizing for their rights across the world. It featured a public forum in which the global group of scholars interacted with LA-based organizers of day laborers, domestic workers, and food-truck operators.
IRLE publications continue to bring ground-breaking research and analysis to a broader audience. The Labor Center's Gaspar Rivera-Salgado co-edited a timely volume, Just Neighbors? Research on African American and Latino Relations in the United States. Undocumented and Unafraid, edited by Labor Center Director Kent Wong and others, updates the Labor Center's earlier bestseller Underground Undergrads with analysis of the flowering of the immigrant youth movement. My own recent co-edited book, Are Bad Jobs Inevitable?, made page 1 of the London Times's spring textbook guide. Working papers from recent seminars by IRLE Visiting Scholars Idrees Khawaja (Pakistan Institute of Development Economics) and Todd Sorensen (UC Riverside) will be on the IRLE website soon. And keep your eyes peeled for Reconnecting to Work, edited by former IRLE Research Director Lauren Appelbaum, which will be published soon by the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
IRLE's Labor and Workplace Studies Minor has had a banner year as well. The Minor passed its eighth year review with flying colors. At the Labor Center's annual Banquet, this year's bumper crop of 34 Minor graduates were greeted by Jonathan Lee, a Minor from the class of 2009, who had just been honored by President Obama in the White House as the founder of Swipes for the Homeless, a UCLA student organization that allows students to donate meals to Los Angeles homeless people. (The Banquet was headlined by Congresswoman Judy Chu and Laphonza Butler, President of the United Long Term Care Workers union.)
Though we have much to celebrate, this spring brought sadness as well. Rick Brown, UCLA Professor of Public Health and Founding Director of the Center for Health Policy Research, and a long-time member of IRLE's Faculty Advisory Committee, passed away while giving a lecture on health policy in Kentucky. Rick, a stellar researcher and a fierce advocate for health reform, was a whirlwind of activity, but was always willing to take time to offer sage advice and support to the Institute.
I started this letter by featuring the Labor Center's successful fund-raising for Dream Summer. But though we are taking strides in raising funds for many signature programs, IRLE still depends on support from individual donors to help fund the Minor's intensive community-based field placements, and the key program staff who make it all possible. Visit the IRLE home page at http://irle.ucla.edu , where you can find our Donate button, as well as links to publications, past and upcoming events (including video of most colloquia), profiles of Visiting Scholars, and lots of other information. And enjoy the summer!
Director, UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment