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Gonos, George

Associate Professor of Employment Relations, SUNY Potsdam.
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Dr. Gonos’ research and writing focus on the legal and political underpinnings of temporary work and other forms of contingent labor. He also works with community-based organizations advocating for the rights of low-income workers. Currently, he is President of the Potsdam Chapter of United University Professions, AFT Local 2190. Dr. Gonos’ scholarly work was inspired by study under several prominent sociologists, including Peter L. Berger, and rests on a strong background in sociological theory, his specialization as a graduate student. His early articles on Erving Goffman, with whom he studied at the University of Pennsylvania, have become standard references on that sociologist’s work. Owing to the rigorous courses of Matilda White Riley, Gonos also received excellent training in research methods. For several semesters he served as teaching assistant for graduate and undergraduate courses in sociological research at Rutgers. Ultimately, after a stint of full-time community organizing, Gonos received his Ph.D. in the economic sociology program at Rutgers. His research and publications have since focused on the dramatic restructuring of U.S. employment relations in recent decades, particularly with regard to the growth of temporary work and other forms of “contingent” labor. This research refutes the notion that the rise of contingent work has been a natural and inevitable response to global market imperatives. In contrast, it reveals the central role of political maneuvering and lawmaking in institutionalizing new kinds of “non-standard” employment arrangements and labor market segmentation. Gonos’ dissertation research, for instance, documented the protracted lobbying campaign conducted by temporary help firms to avoid state regulation and to legalize their definition of “temp work.” This led to further study of alternative forms of labor organization and workforce “flexibility” that could help alleviate economic insecurity and income inequality. This research is widely cited in academic journals, law reviews, and government reports, and often quoted in the media. It was used as background in the successful case brought by Microsoft’s “permatemps” for entitlements. Dr. Gonos is currently bringing this work together in a book on the history of commercial labor agents and the “new wave” of for-profit labor market intermediaries in the U.S. With support from research grants from SUNY-Potsdam he has also recently produced a study of the welfare-to-work transition in northern New York. His research reflects extensive fieldwork with community organizations, social service agencies, and labor unions.