Project Description: 

What is the role of unions in environmental politics? Public discourse suggests that the relationship between “jobs” and “the environment” is fraught, complex, and critical in environmental policymaking. Two of the most repeated narratives, moreover, appear to contradict one another. In some narratives, jobs and the environment are understood to be in inherent tension. Environmental protections are seen as hindering economic growth and destroying jobs. In others, environmental protections are seen as a strategy to create jobs. Indeed, many environmental policy proposals foreground the creation of “good jobs” or “green jobs,” often before describing a policy’s environmental benefits. Yet, little systematic research exists on the role of unions and other worker organizations in environmental politics.

This project seeks to generate a model explaining variation in the positions of unions and other workers’ organizations in environmental policy conflicts. This model aims to answer the following questions: What do unions and other worker organizations want from environmental policymaking? When do their preferences converge and diverge from those of their employers? And how do they translate these preferences into political strategies and respond to shifting dynamics?

This research employs a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods. We are developing a medium-N dataset on the distributional impacts of environmental policies on workers and union and other worker organization involvement in environmental policy conflicts. We plan to use this dataset to test our core hypotheses linking distributional impacts with worker organization strategies. A series of qualitative case studies will complement this quantitative work by more closely examining the evolution of worker organization positions on environmental policies over time and across issue areas.

Undergraduate's Role: 

As part of this project, we are seeking support from an undergraduate researcher to help gather and code primary and secondary source data related to the distributional impacts of environmental policies on workers and the ways that their organizations engage in environmental policy conflicts. We will work with this student to seek out new data sources online from newspaper databases, union websites, government documents and research articles. The student will then organize and code that data, along with data we have already gathered. This role will be remote with the possibility of some in person meetings, depending on COVID safety protocols and the research team’s comfort.

Undergraduate's Qualifications: 

The primary qualification for participating in this project is a desire to learn about the role of workers and workers’ organizations in environmental politics. Previous experience with social scientific research is helpful, though not required. Other qualifications include rudimentary Microsoft Excel skills, and knowledge of or the ability to learn how to conduct advanced internet searches and how to browse newspaper and other databases. It would also be helpful to know how many hours per week you are available to work on the project. Please indicate your relevant experience and availability in your application.

On Campus
To be negotiated