Pablo Aquiles-Sanchez, and Laura Dresser. Facts From the Frontline: Getting By in Milwaukee’s Abundant Low Wage Service Jobs. COWS, 2023.
Over the past 40 years, the union manufacturing jobs that once flourished in Milwaukee have been replaced by low-wage, non-union service jobs, exacerbating racial and economic disparities. Properly addressing the intertwined issues of declining union and manufacturing jobs and growing racial disparity starts with restructuring the city’s service sector. In this report, we take a deep look into the city’s service jobs across multiple industries and occupations. We also hear from workers themselves on what is empowering them and what remains unaddressed on the city’s economic frontlines.Document
For decades, a handful of women have been celebrated as pioneers in construction, manufacturing, transportation, and distribution careers. Despite years of work, these occupations remain “nontraditional” for women and people of color and present unique barriers and challenges. Raising Women’s Success in Apprenticeship (RSWA) is driving systemic change to make these industries more open, accepting, and inclusive of nontraditional workers. This report summarizes the network’s work, identifies key factors of success for getting women into nontraditional jobs, and identifies the remaining challenges that will require a substantial change in policy and practice to make success for women the norm.Document
For the State of Working Wisconsin 2020, COWS created a digital presence to tell the story of workers in the state during COVID-19. This exciting new report shines a spotlight on the brutal Black-white disparities that define this state and provides worker profiles to crystallize the human costs of this crisis. For more than two decades, COWS’ State of Working Wisconsin has presented the workers’ perspective on the economy in the state: what’s going on with work and jobs, who is winning in this economy, and who is being left out; where is disparity growing; what’s happening to the economic chasm separating Black and white workers in the state. The SOWW 2020 website can be seen here.Read more
Kristinn Már Ársælsson, and Joel Rogers. Digital’s Promise for Worker Organizing: A 2018 Update. LIFT (Labor Innovation for the 21st Century), 2019.
Digital tools and technologies—most familiarly, apps, websites, internet search engines and social media platforms—have become a central and pervasive feature of our lives.Document
In the 20th Century, people from around the world came to Wisconsin and the Midwest, seeking opportunity in the industrial boom. Manufacturing and unions helped create good jobs for many black workers, but discrimination and segregation limited that sharply. When industrial jobs declined, black Midwesterners suffered the most. Over the last 40 years, opportunity and outcomes for black residents in Wisconsin have fallen below national averages. As a result, black Wisconsinites face stubborn barriers and road blocks that many white people don’t even know are there. Racial disparity in Wisconsin is not inevitable, but closing the gap will require a broad focus and multifaceted approach.
‘Wisconsin’s Extreme Racial Disparity’ provides a Wisconsin-focused summary to ‘Race in the Heartland‘, which shows the persistence of racial disparities in the Midwest and what can be done about them.
Wisconsin has the regrettable distinction of ranking among the worst states in the nation for racial inequality. Disparities among black and white residents of our state – spanning poverty, unemployment, educational attainment, and incarceration – have been documented consistently for more than a decade. Although activists and policymakers have increasingly focused on addressing these issues, they remain pressing.
‘Race in the Heartland’ and ‘Wisconsin’s Extreme Racial Disparity’ provide a careful historical context and a broadly informed policy framework that are critical to winning greater racial equity throughout this region.Document
Each year on Labor Day, COWS draws a picture of how working people in Wisconsin are faring. The long report, The State of Working Wisconsin, is released biannually on even-numbered years and looks at the economy comprehensively from a working-family perspective. In odd-numbered years, like 2019, we provide a more abbreviated and focused report, called The State of Working Wisconsin: Facts & Figures.
On some of the most well-known economic indicators, there is good news for Wisconsin workers. The unemployment rate in the state has been consistently low. The economy is steadily adding jobs. These are important measures for working people’s lives. When jobs are more available not only is it easier to secure a job, it is also easier to get the hours of work you want, to be able to ask for time-off you need, and to make ends meet. This Labor Day, with the memory of the Great Recession of 2007 now fading from memory, workers across Wisconsin have this good news to celebrate.
Even so, many working families in the state feel stressed and stretched. In this report, then, we provide information on few key long-term trends that are contributing to the stress even in the context of low unemployment. Looking across the last forty years, the challenges working people face are clear. Wage growth has been anemic. Income inequality is reaching new highs. Unions, which have been so critical to supporting workers in this state, are in serious decline. Additionally, state policy, which could be helping to close gaps, is actually exacerbating these trends. From tax changes that reward our highest income families to rejection of health insurance to cover our families in need, policy continues to pave the low-road for our state.Document
Matthew Braunginn, James Irwin, and Satya Rhodes-Conway. A Divest & Invest Guide for Local Governments: Reducing Carbon Risk and Investing in Local Economic Strength. COWS, 2019.
This guide examines the case for addressing climate risk in investments, examine potential solutions and ways to implement them, and explore how reinvestments can create good jobs. This is specifically aimed at local governments, though the strategies and approaches have been proven effective in other sectors.Document
Joel Rogers, and Kris Ársælsson. Digital’s Promise for Worker Organizing: A 2018 Update. LIFT: Labor Innovations for the 21st Century, 2019.
Laura Dresser, Joel Rogers, Emanuel Ubert, and Anna Walther. State of Working Wisconsin 2018. COWS, 2018.
Despite job gains, Wisconsin’s job growth is slow relative to the national pace. Wages are still in no way keeping pace with worker productivity. Wisconsin is comparatively weak in more lucrative occupations: professional, scientific, technical, and information. Our manufacturing sector, while growing, is a still significantly smaller than at the beginning of the century. And inequality continues to grow. One in five workers currently holds a poverty-wage job with few benefits. Rural economies are declining. Wisconsin’s black/white disparities still lead the nation.Document
Equity in Apprenticeship is a report series which highlights programs that use apprenticeship to extend occupational opportunity to historically marginalized groups, especially people of color and women.
These case studies of apprenticeship programs span the country and industries:
- Health Care Pathways in LA: New Apprenticeship Opportunities as an Industry Changes
The Worker Education and Resource Center (WERC) in Los Angeles has become highly adept at preparing health care workers who share a cultural affinity with LA’s patient populations.
- Manufacturing Pathways in Milwaukee: Bringing Skills and Equity to Manufacturing’s Future
The Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) program is the product of collaboration between labor and management leaders in Milwaukee’s manufacturing sector and has created a new rung in the ladder in production jobs.
- Equity from the Frontline: Workers’ Insight and Leadership Supports a Network of Apprenticeships in Transit
In California, the Joint Workforce Investment in the South Bay Valley Transportation Authority has developed a web of apprenticeships and advancement opportunities.
Equity in Apprenticeship was funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. We are grateful for their generous support. The findings and conclusions presented in this series are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.Document Document Document
- Health Care Pathways in LA: New Apprenticeship Opportunities as an Industry Changes