Resha Terae Swanson

Fair labor policies and standards are core to improving job quality for black, Latinx, and immigrant workers in the Southern U.S. Yet Southern labor policy is inextricably tied to structural racism and often reproduces inequality. Southern state legislatures punitively use preemption doctrine to stop local municipalities from passing pro-worker policies like minimum-wage increases or paid-leave laws. The use of preemption to block these laws harms the health and socioeconomic well-being of black, Latinx, and immigrant families, who make up a disproportionate share of low-wage workers in the South. Resha’s research focuses on the role of race and capitalism in Southern labor politics and labor organizing. Using her interdisciplinary skills as a social-work and social-policy scholar, Resha will conduct community-engaged research that provides a nuanced sociohistorical and sociopolitical understanding of work in the South. Resha will use her research to promote worker equity and justice.

As a black Southern woman, former low-wage worker, and community organizer, Resha has witnessed how racial injustice and policy converge to suppress black, Latinx, and immigrant workers. She aims to conduct community-engaged research that highlights workers’ experiences and ultimately influences policy that increases worker power.


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