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Work/Shift Project

WorkShift is a multi-year initiative designed to change the narrative on work and labor. 

By understanding how Americans currently think about work—and mobilizing effective framing strategies—we can build support for the structural changes and redistribution of power needed for more just and equitable labor systems. 

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The way work is currently organized in the United States is exploitative, dehumanizing, and devalues work outside of paid employment. The outsized power of corporations in the economy hurts workers and makes it difficult for people to imagine changing the system.

Yet, the national mood has been shifting. We’re seeing strong public support for unions, improvements in work-life balance, and major legislation promoting job creation and a green transition.  

This is an opening for bigger conversations about—and demands for—changes to how we work. 

Through in-depth interviews, focus groups and survey experiments, we are seeking to develop framing strategies that can shift understanding about:

  • What work is
  • Why people end up in the jobs they do
  • How policy choices shape the nature, conditions and quality of our work
  • How the current economic environment perpetuates racial, gender, and generational inequities
  • Why traditionally devalued sectors like care work and manufacturing need to be valued and supported
  • How we get to a socially and environmentally just future of work 

These narratives will widen the lens from an individualistic understanding of work to a systems approach by counterbalancing our culture’s focus on the ‘self-made’ individual with an understanding of the ways in which systems, structures, and policies affect the world of work.

WorkShift is guided by an advisory board of advocates, scholars, organizers, and other stakeholders. We thank the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the Square One Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation for their generous support.