Milkman

Ruth Milkman

Distinguished Professor of Sociology, Graduate Center, and Research Director, Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies, City University of New York
Areas of Expertise:
  • Economic Security
  • Inequality & the Middle Class
  • Social Issues
  • Cities & Regions
  • Immigration
  • Women
  • Economy & Public Budgets
  • Jobs & Workers

Connect with Ruth

About Ruth

Milkman is a sociologist of labor and labor movements who has written on a variety of topics involving work and organized labor in the United States, past and present. Recently she has written extensively about low-wage immigrant workers in the U.S., analyzing their employment conditions as well as the dynamics of immigrant labor organizing. She helped lead a multi-city team that produced a widely publicized 2009 study documenting the prevalence of wage theft and violations of other workplace laws in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. She also co-authored a study of California’s paid family leave program, focusing on its impact on employers and workers. After 21 years as a sociology professor at UCLA, where she directed the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment from 2001 to 2008, she returned to New York City in 2010. She is currently a Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center and at the Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies, where she teaches Labor Studies and also serves as Research Director.

Podcast

Publications

Unfinished Business: Paid Family Leave in California and the Future of U.S. Work-Family Policy (with Eileen Appelbaum) (Cornell University Press, 2013).

Documents the history and impact of California's paid family leave program. Draws on original data from fieldwork and surveys of employers, workers, and the larger California adult population. Analyzes the effect of the state’s landmark paid family leave on employers and workers. Explores the implications of California’s decade-long experience with paid family leave for the nation.

"Good for Business? Connecticut's Paid Sick Leave Law," (with Eileen Appelbaum, Luke Elliott, and Teresa Kroeger), The Murphy Institute, 2013.

Examines the experiences of Connecticut employers with the state’s paid sick leave law. Discusses a survey of 251 Connecticut employers covered by the new law using a size-stratified random sample a year and a half after the law went into effect. 

Gender at Work: The Dynamics of Job Segregation by Sex during World War II (University of Illinois Press, 1987).
Studies the ways in which job segregation by sex is reproduced under a variety of historical conditions, including depression and war. Focuses on the U.S. automobile and electrical manufacturing industries, examining the ways in which managers, workers and unions approach gender in the workplace.
Farewell to the Factory: Auto Workers in the Late Twentieth Century (University of California Press, 1997).
Offers a case study of industrial restructuring and its impact on workers and their union, focused on a New Jersey General Motors assembly plant.
L.A Story: Immigrant Workers and the Future of the U.S. Labor Movement (Russell Sage Foundation, 2006).
Documents the casualization and deunionization of blue-collar work in four industries (trucking, construction, garments, and building services) and how that led to the shift from U.S.-born to immigrant employment. Analyzes as well the unexpected rise of union organizing among immigrants in the 1990s and 2000s, comparing successful and unsuccessful unionization drives.
"Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers: Violations of Employment and Labor Laws in America’s Cities," (with Annette Bernhardt, Nik Theodore, Douglas Heckathorn, and 7 others), Joint Report of the National Employment Law Project, the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, and the Center for Urban Economic Development, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, April 30, 2009.
Uses an innovative methodology to analyze the rates of wage theft (payment below the legal minimum wage), violations of overtime pay laws, and other workplace violations in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago.
"The State of the Union 2011: A Profile of Organized Labor in New York City, New York State, and the USA," (with Laura Braslow), Joint Report of CUNY’s Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies, the Center for Urban Research, and the NYC Labor Market Information Service, April 30, 2011.
Profiles the nation's most unionized region, analyzing unionization levels by industry, gender, race and ethnicity and nativity in NYC, NY State and the U.S.
"Leaves That Pay: Employer and Worker Experiences with Paid Family Leave in California," (with Eileen Appelbaum), Joint report of CEPR, the Rutgers Center for Women and Work, the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, and CUNY’s Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies, April 30, 2011.
Reports on surveys of employers and workers in California about their experiences with the state's paid family leave program, which began in 2004. Finds that the feared negative impact on employers did not materialize, and that workers who use the program benefit.

In the News

Ruth Milkman quoted on paid family and medical leave in Jane Waldfogel, "Paid Family and Medical Leave Legislation: Evidence from Employers" American Enterprise Institute, April 9, 2018.
Ruth Milkman quoted in Teri Webster, "NYC Judge, 96, Reflects Trend Showing Fewer Senior Citizens are Retiring" TheBlaze, December 16, 2017.
Ruth Milkman quoted in Alex Press, "White-Collar Unionization is Good for Everyone" The Nation, January 29, 2018.
Ruth Milkman quoted on older workers in Ben Steverman, "Working Past 70: Americans Can’t Seem to Retire" Bloomberg, July 10, 2017.
Ruth Milkman quoted on the de-unionization of construction jobs in Natalie Kitroeff, "Immigrants Flooded California Construction. Worker Pay Sank. Here’s Why." Los Angeles Times, April 20, 2017.
"How a Lack of Paid Leave is Making Wealth Inequality Worse," Ruth Milkman, The Washington Post, May 12, 2016.
"The Future of Work: The Forces against Organized Labor," Ruth Milkman, Pacific Standard, October 1, 2015.
Ruth Milkman quoted on the probability of big companies adopting paid sick leave policies in Claire Cain Miller, "From Microsoft, a Novel Way to Mandate Sick Leave" New York Times, March 26, 2015.
Ruth Milkman quoted on students pursuing unionization in Steven Greenhouse, "Columbia Graduate Students Push for a Labor Union" New York Times, March 3, 2015.
Ruth Milkman quoted on costs associated with employee turnover in Eileen Appelbaum, "FAMILY Act, Not Vodafone, Points Way Forward on Paid Family and Medical Leave" The Hill, March 17, 2015.
Ruth Milkman quoted on the cost of employee turnover in Dory Devlin, "3 Hidden Costs of NOT Having Paid Family Leave" Fortune, February 17, 2015.
Ruth Milkman quoted on the impact of globalization on dockworkers unions in Chris Kirkham and Andrew Khouri, "Dockworker Union Protected Pay, Clout as Trade Grew" Seattle Times, March 5, 2015.
Ruth Milkman's research on union membership in NY discussed in Patrick McGeehan. Ruth Milkman, "Study Suggests a Rebound for Union Jobs in New York," New York Times, August 31, 2014.
"A More Perfect Union," Ruth Milkman, The New York Times, June 30, 2005.
"Paid Family Leave Pays Off in California," Ruth Milkman (with Eileen Appelbaum), Harvard Business Review Blog Network, January 19, 2011.