Research & Publications

LERC faculty conduct research on issues related to employment, labor relations, economic affairs, race and gender in the workplace, and workers’ legal rights. Our studies and reports have been used by academics, unions, government agencies, community organizations, and elected officials in developing policies and programs that address the needs of working Oregonians.

As the following studies and reports indicate, LERC faculty members possess wide-ranging scholarly and research expertise. We are committed to making this expertise readily available to the University community and the broader Oregon community, as an essential element of our public service.

Examples of Our Work (chronological order)

Safety Voice for Ergonomics (SAVE): Evaluation of a masonry apprenticeship training program (link expires July 2020)
Jennifer A. Hess, Laurel Kincl, Douglas L. Weeks, Amelia Vaughan, Dan Anton

Masons have high rates of strains and sprains, more than other construction trades. Viable solutions to these musculoskeletal  injury hazards have been identified by industry stakeholders, yet in the past masons have received minimal ergonomics training to prevent such injuries. Apprentices and other younger workers have even higher rates of injury so it essential to provide them with ergonomics training and strategies to identify and speak up about safety issues on job sites. To fill this gap, our team developed the Safety Voice for Ergonomics (SAVE) training, a 7-unit, interactive video training with discussions, quizzes and activities that specifically address masonry ergonomic hazards and solutions. This training is available to download for free from the Center for Construction Research and Education.

LERC’s Department Manager, Deb Mailander, worked with University of Oregon Law School students in Fall 2019 to research opportunities where high quality jobs and labor standards could be incorporated into federally funded renewable energy technology projects.  The resulting report was published by the Law School’s Environmental and Natural Resources Law Center. Policy Options for Attaching Labor Standards to Employment in the Clean Energy Technology Sector

A white-paper of the University of Oregon School of Law Environmental and Natural Resources Law Center Energy Law and Policy Project (Fall, 2019)Energy Sector Labor Law

UNLAWFUL: U.S. employers are charged with violating federal law in 41.5% of all union election campaigns

LERC Professor Gordon Lafer and Graduate Student
Lola Loustaunau along with other collaborators, have co-written a new study published by the Economic Policy Institute.

In February 2019,  “The Union Advantage” was co-authored by LERC faculty members Mark Brenner and Lina Stepick.
The study provides the first empirical assessment of the impact of unions on living standards for Oregon workers. Their findings are consistent with previous national and state-level research, revealing that unions in Oregon raise wages, improve health and pension benefits, reduce overall income inequality, and significantly decrease racial and gender inequalities. Oregon unions also make it much less likely that workers will need to rely on public benefits such as food stamps or welfare.

In September 2017, Gordon Lafer co-authored an academic paper together with former US Department of Labor Chief Economist Heidi Shierholz.  The paper, titled What union coverage numbers might look like without NLRA preemption,  is available for download here.
The paper addresses recent suggestions that effective union representation might be improved by waiving federal preemption under the National Labor Relations Act, and allowing states to set private sector labor law, as they do for the public sector.  The paper was presented at a conference of the Harvard University Labor & Worklife Program, and is slated for publication in a special issue of the online Harvard Law Journal.

“Spending Blind,”  by Gordon Lafer of LERC,  was published in April, 2017 by The Public Interest. The study, the first of its kind in the country, examines how hundreds of millions of dollars are spent every year on renting, leasing or building buildings for California charter schools, but it all takes place without any effective policy guidance.  Schools get built regardless of whether they have a good or bad track record in education, regardless of whether there is need for another school in the community or whether there are already enough seats for all the kids who need one.  In this way, desperately needed education dollars are being wasted by paying to open schools that in many cases are both not needed for the population of students and do not provide an education that is new, different or better than what is already available in nearby public schools.

Gordon Lafer, The One Percent Solution: How Corporations Are Remaking America, One State at a Time, Cornell University Press, April 2017
In the aftermath of the 2010 Citizens United decision, it’s become commonplace to note the growing political dominance of a small segment of the economic elite. But what exactly are those members of the elite doing with their newfound influence? The One Percent Solution provides an answer to this question for the first time. Gordon Lafer’s book is a comprehensive account of legislation promoted by the nation’s biggest corporate lobbies across all fifty state legislatures and encompassing a wide range of labor and economic policies.

Raahi Reddy,  Ellen Scott and Mary C. King
The Impact on Oregonians of the Rise of Irregular Scheduling, March 2017

Raahi Reddy, Mary King and Laura Dresser
Oregon’s Care Economy: The Case for Public Care Investment, January 2017

Bob Bussel, Fighting for Total Person Unionism: Harold Gibbons, Ernest Calloway, and Working-Class Citizenship, University of Illinois Press, October 2015

Barbara Byrd, PhD, Deborah Mailander, JD, and Helen Moss
Bullying in the Workplace

Raahi Reddy, Daniel Morris, Ellen K. Scott, Bob Bussel and Shauna Dyer, The High Cost of Low Wages

Gordon Lafer and Bob Bussel, with assistance from graduate student Jaxon Love
ALL COSTS CONSIDERED III — LERC Report on Contracting Out

have completed a third study on the contracting out of school support services in Oregon, 2013

The LERC Monograph Series on public sector labor relations includes definitive research and commentary on the workings of Oregon’s Public Employee Collective Bargaining Act (PECBA) by labor and management advocates as well as neutrals.

Helen Moss, and  Marc Weinstein
Addressing the Skills Shortage in Healthcare through the Development of Incumbent Employees: Hospital Employee Education and Training (HEET) Program, 2009

Lynn Feekin
Majority Authorizations and Union Organizing in the Public Sector: A Four-State Perspective
, 2009

Barbara Byrd
Construction Apprenticeship in Oregon: An Analysis of Data on Union and Open Shop Apprenticeship Programs
, 2009

Bob Bussel
Understanding the Immigrant Experience in Oregon (English) (Espanol), 2008