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Putting Research To Work: Improving Low-Wage Jobs and Public Policies to Support Vulnerable Workers

Symposium Agenda

March 7, 2009
School of Social Service Administration

Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:00 to 8:30 am

Welcome and Introduction

8:30 to 9:15 am

Julia R. Henly, Associate Professor
Susan Lambert, Associate Professor

FIRST Session: The Realities of Low-Wage Jobs in Today’s Economy

9:15 to 10:45 am

What does it mean to work a “low-wage job?” This session will look inside the workplace with the goal of elucidating the everyday realities of jobs at the front-lines of today’s firms. With speakers presenting highlights from their research in nursing homes, retail establishments, and restaurants, the session will underscore variation in job conditions and employer practices that shape employment for vulnerable workers.

Speakers include Jennifer E. Swanberg, University of Kentucky; Elaine Waxman, University of Chicago, Kimberly A. Clum, University of Michigan, and Anna Haley Lock, University of Washington.

Discussion leader: Aixa Cintrón-Vélez, Russell Sage Foundation

SECOND SESSION: Promising Interventions to Improve
Low-Wage Work

11:00 am to 12:30 pm

How can we improve the employment experiences of workers in low-wage jobs? This session will consider a range of intervention approaches including efforts to improve conditions of work, build community-employer partnerships, and provide employment supports to workers. Speakers will present research findings related to specific interventions, offering critical analysis of the benefits and challenges that different approaches present.

Speakers include Susan J. Lambert, University of Chicago, Roberta Iversen, University of Pennsylvania, Virginia Parks, University of Chicago, and Heather D. Hill, University of Chicago.

Discussion leader: Laura Dresser, University of Wisconsin, Center on Wisconsin Strategy

Lunch AND Keynote

12:30 to 2:00 pm

  • Sheldon H. Danziger, University of Michigan
  • Margaret C. Simms, Urban Institute
  • Introduction by Waldo E. Johnson, Jr., University of Chicago

Our lunchtime speakers will provide an overview of macroeconomic and public policy changes affecting the economic well-being of disadvantaged workers and provide two perspectives on key social welfare policy challenges facing the Obama Administration.

third session: Low-Wage Employment and Public Policy

2:15 to 3:45 pm

How well do our social welfare policies meet the needs of workers in low-wage jobs? How might policies be revamped to better serve vulnerable workers and their families? The speakers in this panel will address these questions as they consider key policy areas including unemployment insurance, child care, child support, and the effective marginal tax rates imposed by different policy packages.

Speakers include H. Luke Shaefer, University of Michigan, Julia R. Henly, University of Chicago, Jennifer L. Romich, University of Washington, and David J. Pate, Jr., University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

Discussion leader: Evelyn Z. Brodkin, University of Chicago

fourth session: Putting Research to Work: Transforming Knowledge into Effective Public Policy and Employer Practice

3:45 to 5:00 pm

The final session of the day brings together a panel of leading social work scholars and top administrators to consider strategies for moving forward. From the perspective of the speakers, what are the central take-away points from the day? How can we best translate knowledge into effective policy and practice? What role can schools of social work and social welfare play in moving this agenda forward?

Speakers include Sandra K. Danziger, University of Michigan, Laura Lein, University of Michigan, Sheila H. Akabus, Columbia University, Anne Ladky, Women Employed, Carrie Thomas, Chicago Jobs Council, Mary Corbitt Clark, Winning Workplaces.


5:00 to 6:00 pm

Return to the summary for this symposium.

Julia Henly

Julia Henly

Susan Lambert

Susan Lambert