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Other Programs

Wurf Memorial Fund

The Jerry Wurf Memorial Fund was established in 1982 in memory of Jerry Wurf, the late President of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Its income is used to initiate programs and activities that “reflect Jerry Wurf’s belief in the dignity of work, and his commitment to improving the quality of lives of working people, to free open thought and debate about public policy issues, to informed political action…and to reflect his interests in the quality of management in public service, especially as it assures the ability of workers to do their jobs with maximum effect and efficiency in environments sensitive to their needs and activities.”

Payroll Fraud & Underground Economy

In December 2004, we issued a seminal report on the “Social and Economic Costs of Employee Misclassification in Construction” in Massachusetts. The study was one of the first of its kind in the country to analyze the impacts of the growing trend among construction and other employers to fraudulently classify their workers as “independent contractors” instead of “employees” in order to evade the cost of compliance with basic social safety net and tax obligations that attach to the employer-employee relationship, such as minimum wage and overtime obligations, workers compensation contributions, and payroll taxes. The attention generated by the report spawned a series of similar studies at the national and state levels that identified the issue of misclassification as a major public policy concern and catalyzed significant legislative and administrative efforts to combat the misclassification trend.

Since that time, the problems identified in the report have only increased. The tax and insurance avoidance practices have evolved from identifying employees as “1099s” to a harder-to-measure and more hidden system of compensation in the form of simple cash payments “off the books.” They have spread far beyond the construction industry to many additional industries.  Moreover, unscrupulous employers have developed new subterfuges to sidestep existing enforcement strategies.

The Payroll Fraud and Underground Economy Project builds on the 2004 study to provide new research approaches to better detect the presence of classification fraud versus the legitimate use of independent contractors and to develop strategies for enforcement agencies on best practices to address payroll fraud.


Among all workers, scientists, mathematicians, and engineers are believed to have a disproportionately strong impact on the growth and prosperity of an economy. How society provides training, incentives, and jobs to such individuals therefore merits special attention.

The Science and Engineering Workforce Project (SEWP) based at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) is a network of labor economists and other researchers studying the professional development, deployment, and productivity of scientists, engineers, and highly skilled technical workers. Set up in 2001 with funding from the Sloan Foundation, the Project is directed by Professors Richard Freeman and Daniel Goroff of Harvard University.

SEWP in cooperation with Harvard’s Department of Economics and the Technology and Operations Management Unit (TOM) at Harvard Business School, hold a joint seminar on the Economics of Science & Engineering which meets primarily at the Harvard Business School where it is known as the Science-Based Business Seminar. Visit the SEWP website here.


The Jacob Wertheim Fellowship for the Betterment of Industrial Relationships is administered by the Labor and Worklife Program. Fellowships are awarded to support original research and publications in the broad field of labor relations and cooperation. Established in 1923 as a gift from the Wertheim family in memory of Jacob Wertheim, the fund has supported the research and publication of 55 books, and numerous papers.