The CSE’s research efforts are supported entirely by funds raised by contributions to the CSE or through contracts to evaluate worker health. The Center has developed and conducted occupational health projects with the support of 5 different unions and associated management groups over the last decade: HERE; UAW; CWA; IAFF; Orange County Fire Authority (Management).
The CSE recently finished a study conducted in November 2009 with Communications Workers of America (CWA) members employed as line-workers/technicians by Verizon in Southern California. Marnie Dobson (CSE Associate Director) prepared and presented a report to Verizon management and CWA representatives during a collective bargaining session in Southern Californian March 2010 and are in the mist of preparing a new proposal outlining a study to be conducted in collaboration with CWA and AT&T to further study line and call-center workers in Northern California.
In 2011 the CSE submitted a proposal to Communications Workers of America (CWA) for a cross-sectional survey of AT&T technicians in California. We estimate the survey should be completed by approximately 600-800 technicians at 16-20 randomly selected worksites. This will give us sufficient statistical power to find credible associations between workplace stressors and self-reported health outcomes such as hypertension, cholesterol, obesity, burnout and psychological distress. We also recommend a random sample of N=200, among the participants of the survey population to collect physiological measurements such as work-site blood pressures, and height and weight. These “hard” outcomes are well established risk factors for CVD and are associated with work-related stressors and will add credibility to the study.
Our approach in previous research with CWA has included close consultation with CWA representatives and technicians and we strongly urge that this be repeated in a California study. Participatory Action Research (PAR) is an approach to conducting research which involves fostering a partnership between researchers and working people whereby the interests and knowledge of working people inform the research questions and process. PAR de-centers the research process to involve and empower those being studied to prioritize their concerns, gain knowledge about research processes from the academic researchers, foster successful participation among colleagues, and help interpret findings and develop recommendations for workplace change.