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About Kate Bronfenbrenner

Kate Bronfenbrenner is the Director of Labor Education Research and a Senior Lecturer at Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations where she does teaching and research on union and employer strategies in organizing and bargaining in the global economy. Kate has also done extensive research on the impact of trade policy on employment, wages, and unionization. Prior to joining the Cornell faculty in 1993, Bronfenbrenner was an Assistant Professor in Labor Studies at Penn State University and worked for many years as an organizer and union representative with the United Woodcutters Association in Mississippi and with SEIU in Boston, as well as a welfare rights organizer in Seattle, Washington.

Bronfenbrenner, who received her Ph.D. from Cornell in 1993, is the co-author and editor of several books on union strategies including Global Unions: Challenging Transnational Capital Through Cross Border Campaigns, Union Organizing in the Public Sector: An Analysis of State and Local Elections, Organizing to Win: New Research on Union Strategies, and Ravenswood: The Steelworkers' Victory and the Revival of American Labor. She has also published numerous articles, book chapters, and monographs on employer and union behavior in public and private sector organizing and first contract campaigns, comprehensive campaigns, union leadership development, women and unions, and global trade and investment policy. Her most recent work on the timing of employer unfair labor practices during NLRB certification elections was cited by the NLRB in their rule change for certification election procedures.

Because of her expertise in contemporary labor issues and her research on union and employer behavior in certification election campaigns, Bronfenbrenner has been brought in to testify as an expert witness at Labor Department and Congressional hearings and is frequently quoted in the major news media.

Bronfenbrenner has been the recipient of many awards most notably the Kendall S. Carpenter Memorial Advising Award in 2012, 3 Merrill Educator Awards, Labor Research Association's Ernest DeMaio Labor Award in 2009, IRRA’s Outstanding Young Scholar Award, ILR’s 60th Anniversary Outstanding Contribution to Labor Education Award, the Labor Party’s first Karen Silkwood Award in 1998, the New York Labor History Association’s John Commerford Labor Education Award in 2000, the General Mills Foundation Award for Exemplary Undergraduate Teaching in 2003, the Robert N. Stern Mentoring Award in 2007, and was selected to give the 24th Memorial Sefton Lecture at the University of Toronto in 2006.

Finally, a central part of Kate’s work is teaching research to young people through employing undergraduate research assistants on her policy research projects. Each year students who have worked with Kate graduate from ILR and go on to research jobs with unions, government or NGOs or to pursue graduate degrees in the social sciences using the qualitative and quantitative research skills they learned working on these studies.


2005 - Present Director of Labor Education Research, Cornell University ILR School
2005 - Present Senior Lecturer, Cornell University ILR School Labor Relations, Law and History
1995 - 2010 Adjunct Faculty Member and Internship Supervisor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst ‐ Masters Degree Program in Union Leadership and Administration
1993 - 2005 Senior Extension Associate, Cornell University ILR School Extension Division
1991 - 1993 Assistant Professor, Penn State University ‐ Department of Labor Studies and Industrial Relations

Curriculum Vitae

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Honors and Awards

  • Cornell Merril Scholar outstanding educator award, 2004, 2012, and 2013
  • Kendall S. Carpenter Memorial Advising Award, 2012
  • Labor Research Association Ernest DeMaio Labor Award, 2009
  • ILR 60th Anniversary Award, 2007
  • Robert N. Stern Award for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring , 2007
  • National Head Start Association Award of Appreciation, 2006
  • 24th Annual Sefton Lecture, University of Toronto, 2006
  • General Mills Foundation Award for Exemplary Undergraduate Teaching, 2003
  • John Commerford Labor Education Award, New York State Labor History Association, 2000
  • Karen Silkwood Award, Labor Party
  • Outstanding Young Scholar Award, Industrial Relations Research Association, 1998

Contact Information

Cornell University, ILR School
356 ILR Research Building
Ithaca, NY 14853
Tel: 607.255.7581
Fax: 607-255-0245


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