The Labor Research Center was founded in 1984 by Professor Charles T. Schmidt, Jr. to promote research, outreach, and teaching of workplace and workforce issues. Its name was changed in 1998 to the Charles T. Schmidt, Jr. Labor Research Center in honor of its founding director.
Over the years, the Center has received research and project funding from a number of agencies and foundations, including, among others, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the National Academy of Arbitrators, the Electrical Contracting Foundation, the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, and the Rhode Island Department of Human Services.
The Center’s faculty are involved in outreach efforts to businesses, unions, labor/management groups, non-profit organizations, and state agencies. In addition, the Center sponsors annual conferences on labor and employment law and labor arbitration, as well occasional topical conferences. In 2004, the Center sponsored a conference on worker's compensation in memory of former director Terry L. Thomason. Papers from the conference were published by the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in a volume entitled Workplace Injuries and Disease: Prevention and Compensation. The book received commendation from Princeton University as a “notable book in industrial relations” for 2005.
In 1986, the Center graduated its first class of master's degree recipients. Since then, nearly 200 students have earned their Master of Science degree in Labor Relations and Human Resources. Several years ago, the Center also developed graduate certificate programs and an undergraduate minor in Labor and Employee Relations. In 2001, the Center joined with Roger Williams University in offering a dual degree J.D./M.S. program in Law and Labor Relations and Human Resources.
The Center has been recognized for its work by the United States Senate and Progreso Latino, a community-based organization located in Central Falls, Rhode Island. Several of the Center’s faculty have received the URI Foundation’s Teaching Excellence Award , and its former administrative assistant, Mary Pinch, was awarded the Foundation's Staff Excellence Award. Professor Scott Molloy has also been recognized for his teaching ability by the Labor and Employment Relations Association and the Carnegie Foundation.