Thursday, January 17, 2013



IWS Documented News Service


Institute for Workplace Studies----------------- Professor Samuel B. Bacharach

School of Industrial & Labor Relations-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies

Cornell University

16 East 34th Street, 4th floor---------------------- Stuart Basefsky

New York, NY 10016 -------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau




Work and Vulnerability 

April 5-6, 2013

Emory University School of Law, Atlanta, Georgia




*Workshops are structured to allow for extended and meaningful participation by non-presenters and are open the public.  To attend as a registered guest click here.

The Vulnerability and the Human Condition Initiative uses the concept of vulnerability to analyze the situation of both individuals and institutions. In the context of the employment relationship, both employer and employee are vulnerable to economic and political forces, although differently so. This workshop will explore the concepts of vulnerability and resilience in relation to the employment relationship as it is being redefined in the 21st century.

Historically, the employment relationship was defined either by individual contract or collective bargaining. Bargaining is rare at the individual level, which makes employment law an area in which “private” law has substantial public consequences. Typically there is a significant power imbalance between employer and employee in the individual contacting circumstance, but employee-protective responses to that imbalance on the part of the state are impeded by the ideologies of individualism and autonomy, as well as a neo-liberal politics of privatization, efficiency, and deference to “job creators” and capital.  

Organized labor has worked to counter the power imbalance in the employment relationship through collective bargaining in some segments of the workforce and through political support of social legislation. Even non-unionized workers benefit because many employers were willing to share more of their profits with workers in order to avoid union organization and possible encroachment on their virtual monopoly of power over the workplace. However, there has been an unprecedented decline in unions' membership and power in many Western countries over the past few decades. This decline is attributed to global and domestic economic, political, ideological and institutional factors, but some weight should be given to the organization and operation of unions as factors in their decline.

Currently, Western academic thought, as well as international institutions like the ILO, tend to identify Labor-Rights with Human-Rights. This brings the state explicitly into the picture in a major way, although the power of global capital has constrained the state’s provision of social and economic rights, raising the question of how to revitalize unions and other social justice organizations and demand a state more socially responsive to the vulnerabilities inherent in the workplace. Comparative projects welcomed.    View entire call as PDF

201 Dowman Drive. Atlanta, Georgia 30322 USA 404.727.6123




This information is provided to subscribers, friends, faculty, students and alumni of the School of Industrial & Labor Relations (ILR). It is a service of the Institute for Workplace Studies (IWS) in New York City. Stuart Basefsky is responsible for the selection of the contents which is intended to keep researchers, companies, workers, and governments aware of the latest information related to ILR disciplines as it becomes available for the purposes of research, understanding and debate. The content does not reflect the opinions or positions of Cornell University, the School of Industrial & Labor Relations, or that of Mr. Basefsky and should not be construed as such. The service is unique in that it provides the original source documentation, via links, behind the news and research of the day. Use of the information provided is unrestricted. However, it is requested that users acknowledge that the information was found via the IWS Documented News Service.


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