Ruth Milkman

Ruth Milkman

Professor of Sociology and History, Graduate Center, and School of Labor and Urban Studies, City University of New York, CUNY Graduate School and University Center
Chapter Member: New York City SSN
Areas of Expertise:

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About Ruth

Milkman's research focuses on work and organized labor in the U.S., past and present. Key themes in her writing include gender and labor, immigration and labor, work-family policy, and low-wage labor issues.

In the News

Quoted by Steven Greenhouse in "How One Local Union is Doubling Wages for America’s Airport Workers," The American Prospect, April 2, 2020.
Quoted by Michelle R. Smith in "Why Many Employees Feel Devalued Even in Booming Job Market," EDGE Boston, August 13, 2019.
Research discussed by Emily Peck, in "California’s Governor Just Proposed The Longest Paid Parental Leave In The U.S.," Huffington Post, January 10, 2019.
Quoted by Jane Waldfogel in "Paid Family and Medical Leave Legislation: Evidence from Employers," American Enterprise Institute, April 9, 2018.
Quoted by Alex Press in "White-Collar Unionization is Good for Everyone," The Nation, January 29, 2018.
Quoted by Teri Webster in "NYC Judge, 96, Reflects Trend Showing Fewer Senior Citizens are Retiring," TheBlaze, December 16, 2017.
Quoted by Ben Steverman in "Working Past 70: Americans Can’t Seem to Retire," Bloomberg, July 10, 2017.
Quoted by Natalie Kitroeff in "Immigrants Flooded California Construction. Worker Pay Sank. Here’s Why.," Los Angeles Times, April 20, 2017.
Opinion: "How a Lack of Paid Leave is Making Wealth Inequality Worse," Ruth Milkman, The Washington Post, May 12, 2016.
Opinion: "The Future of Work: The Forces against Organized Labor," Ruth Milkman, Pacific Standard, October 1, 2015.
Quoted by Claire Cain Miller in "From Microsoft, a Novel Way to Mandate Sick Leave," New York Times, March 26, 2015.
Quoted by Eileen Appelbaum in "FAMILY Act, Not Vodafone, Points Way Forward on Paid Family and Medical Leave," The Hill, March 17, 2015.
Quoted by Chris Kirkham and Andrew Khouri in "Dockworker Union Protected Pay, Clout as Trade Grew," Seattle Times, March 5, 2015.
Quoted by Steven Greenhouse in "Columbia Graduate Students Push for a Labor Union," New York Times, March 3, 2015.
Quoted by Dory Devlin in "3 Hidden Costs of NOT Having Paid Family Leave," Fortune, February 17, 2015.
Research discussed by Patrick McGeehan, in "Study Suggests a Rebound for Union Jobs in New York," New York Times, August 31, 2014.
Opinion: "Paid Family Leave Pays Off in California," Ruth Milkman (with Eileen Appelbaum), Harvard Business Review Blog Network, January 19, 2011.
Opinion: "A More Perfect Union," Ruth Milkman, The New York Times, June 30, 2005.


Working for Justice (edited with Joshua Bloom and Victor Narro) (Cornell University Press, 2010).

Makes the case for a distinctive "L.A. Model" of union and worker center organizing. Networks linking advocates in worker centers and labor unions facilitate mutual learning and synergy and have generated a shared repertoire of economic justice strategies.

"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. 

"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 and Ruth Milkman), Center for Economic and Policy Research, December 31, 2010.

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 used the program benefit from it.

"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.

"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.
"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.
"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.