Professor Susan Bisom-Rapp spoke at the 64th Annual Meeting of the Labor and Employment Relations Association on January 8, in Chicago. The theme of this year’s annual meeting was “Employment Relations and Workplace Representation in the Recovering Economy.”
In keeping with her interest in older workers and her expertise in international and comparative employment law, Professor Bisom-Rapp participated in a symposium titled “Vulnerable Workers, Precarious Work: A Global Perspective.” Also participating were professors from the United Kingdom, Australia, and Italy. Her talk, “Decent Work, Older Workers and the Recession – The American Experience,” used the concept of decent work, as developed by the International Labour Organization, as a yardstick for determining how older workers have fared during the prolonged labor market recession in the United States. “Related to that question,” said Professor Bisom-Rapp, “is the role labor and employment law plays in mitigating or aggravating older worker vulnerability.”
Professor Bisom-Rapp’s co-panelists were Professor Michele Tiraboschi (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy), who presented his paper, “Young Workers in Recessionary Times: The European Experience,” and Professor Michael Quinlan (University of New South Wales, Australia,) who spoke on the topic “How Precarious Employment Damages Health: Evidence from Australia.” Serving as discussants were Professor Malcolm Sargeant (Middlesex University,UK,) who framed his comments by addressing the “lump of labor” fallacy – the belief that there is a fixed number of jobs and older workers must vacate them in order to make way for younger workers – and Professor Ryan Lamare (University of Manchester, UK,) who directly addressed the observations of the three panelists. Professor Janice Bellace, from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, served as chair of the symposium.
“The global economic crisis has impacted workers from many countries,” noted Professor Bisom-Rapp. “Discussing conditions and solutions in other countries can help Americans think through the steps we might take assist employees in a challenging and recovering economy.”