Alison Dickson

Alison Dickson

Job Quality Fellow, Class of 2022-23; Chicagoland Workforce Leadership Academy, Class of 2019, Economic Opportunities Program

Senior Instructor, School of Labor and Employment Relations, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Alison Dickson works as a senior instructor in the School of Labor and Employment Relations (LER) at University of Illinois and as an affiliate researcher with the Project for Middle Class Renewal. Her research centers on the modern-day degradation of job quality, especially the impacts of precarious working conditions and variable and unpredictable work schedules on worker health, well-being, families, and communities. She is particularly interested in policy issues relevant to contemporary labor markets including minimum wages, paid sick leave, fair scheduling legislation, and efforts to combat wage theft. She is the author of a number of research reports and policy briefs related to issues facing Illinois workers and has provided expert testimony on a number of occasions to both the Illinois Legislative Assembly and the Chicago City Council.

In addition to her research, Alison teaches bilingual (Spanish-English) workers’ rights courses for adult learners who face precarious working conditions and are at risk for violations of their rights on the job. In 2015, Alison led efforts to develop the Workers’ Rights for Workforce Development curriculum. Now in its third edition, this open-access curriculum is the first ever developed in the US that is entirely focused on connecting worker power and voice to job training programming.

Prior to joining LER, Alison worked at the UIC Center for Urban Economic Development (CUED) where she contributed to the landmark 2008 study of low-wage workers, industries, and occupations in America’s three largest cities. Before her time at CUED, she worked for a number of years as a community and labor organizer in Ohio and Los Angeles. Alison is currently a Ph.D. student in urban planning and policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). She received her master’s degree in urban planning from UIC and her bachelor’s degree in international affairs and economic development from the George Washington University in Washington, DC. A proud AFT-IFT-AAUP member and Chicago girl since birth, Alison now lives in Evanston, Illinois, with her son, two cats, and one fish.

Alison is a member of the Job Quality Fellowship Class of 2022-23. To learn more about the Job Quality Fellows, visit

She is also a member of the Chicagoland Workforce Leadership Academy, Class of 2019, one of several Workforce Leadership Academies in localities across North America.

The Job Quality Fellowship and the Workforce Leadership Academies are part of the Economic Opportunity Fellows Network, a network of leadership and fellowship programs run by the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program. Within this Network, EOP connects national and local leaders from across sectors — nonprofit, government, business, philanthropy, academia, and more — to advance policies and practices with the potential to help low- and moderate-income Americans thrive in today’s economy. Learn more at

Authored by Alison