Revaluing Work(ers): Toward a Democratic and Sustainable Future                          

Edited by Tobias Schulze-Cleven and Todd E. Vachon

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How can we build a future of work that meets pressing challenges and delivers for workers? Contemporary societies are beset by interrelated ecological, political, and economic crises, from climate change to democratic erosion and economic instability. Uncertainty abounds about the sustainability of democratic capitalism. Yet mainstream debates on the evolution of work tend to remain narrowly circumscribed, exhibiting both technological and market determinism.

This LERA research volume presents a labor studies perspective on the future of work, arguing that revaluing work—the efforts and contributions of workers—is crucial to realizing the promises of democracy and improving sustainability. It emphasizes that collective political action, and the collective agency of workers in particular, is central to driving this agenda forward. Moreover, it maintains that reproductive work—labor efforts from care to education that sustain the reproduction of society—can function as a crucible of innovation for the valuation and governance of work more broadly.

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Table of Contents

  1. Revaluing Work(ers) for Democracy and Sustainability | Tobias Schulze-Cleven and Todd E. Vachon
  2. Beyond Market Fundamentalism: A Labor Studies Perspective on the Future of Work | Tobias Schulze-Cleven
Part I: Articulating the Labor Studies Perspective
  1. Deus Est Machina: Historical Amnesia, Methodological Myopia, and the Future of Work | Michael Merrill and Dorothy Sue Cobble
  2. “Negotiate the Algorithm”: Labor Unions, Scale, and Industry 4.0 Experimentation | Tod Rutherford
  3. Climate Change and the Future of Workers: Toward a Just Transition | J. Mijin Cha and Todd E. Vachon 
Part II: Evolving Forms of Collective Agency
  1. Worker Mobilization and Political Engagement: A Historical Perspective | Naomi R Williams and Sheri Davis-Faulkner
  2. Worker Voice in Technological Change: The Potential of Recrafting | Joel S. Yudken and David Jacobs 
  3. Both Broadening and Deepening: Toward Sectoral Bargaining for the Common Good | Joseph A. McCartin, Erica Smiley, and Marilyn Sneiderman
  4. The Role of Labor Education in Revaluing Workers: Historical, Current, and Future | Victor G. Devinatz and Robert Bruno
Part III: Reproductive Work as a Crucible of Innovation
  1. The Future of Work for Domestic Workers in the United States: Innovations in Technology, Organizing, and Laws | Elaine Zundl and Yana van der Meulen Rodgers
  2. Graduate Student Employee Unionization in the Second Gilded Age | William A. Herbert and Joseph van der Naald
  3. The Future of U.S. Public School Reform: Elevating Teacher Voice | Saul Rubinstein and John McCarthy
  4. Empowering Workers: Education and Training in the Changing Labor Market | Alysa Hannon, Heather McKay, and Michelle Van Noy   
  1. In the Age of Crises: Enlisting Universities in Support of Change | Tobias Schulze-Cleven

Related Research/Working Papers

Schulze-Cleven, Tobias and Todd E. Vachon. 2022. “The Future of Work and Workers: Insights from US Labour Studies.” Global Labour Journal 13(1): 122-134. DOI:

Schulze-Cleven, Tobias and Todd E. Vachon. 2021. “Revaluing Work(ers) for Democracy and Sustainability.” LEARN White Paper 7502, Labor Education Action Research Network, Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

Schulze-Cleven, Tobias. 2021. “Beyond Market Fundamentalism: A Labor Studies Perspective on the Future of Work.” CWW Working Paper 2021-1, Center for Women and Work, Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

Schulze-Cleven, Tobias. 2021. “Universities and the Future of Work: The Promise of Labor Studies.” CSHE Research & Occasional Paper 7.21, Center for Studies in Higher Education, University of California, Berkeley. 

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