Dennis Serrette, Charley richardson & Sally Alvarez
Charley Richardson (center) wins first Outstanding Achievement Award, in 2008. Presenting the award are UALE President Dennis Serrette and VP Sally Alvarez


About the Awards Current Winners Past Winners



In 2008, UALE established 4 annual awards for outstanding achievements by practitioners in our field of labor education. The intent was to generate interest and active participation on the part of UALE members in recognizing the best practices and products coming out of the field.

The four original award categories were:

  • Outstanding contribution to the field in the previous year
  • Best book published in the previous 2 years (originally 5 years) related to the field of labor education 
  • New Generation Award for the best first paper presentation. This award is for a labor educator who is presenting for the first time at a UALE conference and is new to labor education.
  • Best article in Labor Studies Journal published in the previous year

In 2009, we added a fifth category, the Lifetime Achievement Award

Every year, we present these awards during the final banquet luncheon at our conference.

Two of the award winners are chosen by a selection committee. These are the Best Student Paper Award, given to the writer of one of the Student Scholarship papers, which is chosen by the Student Scholarship committee. The other is the Labor Studies Journal Best Article Award, chosen by the Labor Studies Journal editorial board from among those nominated by the LSJ Board. The other three Awards are chosen by either a general vote of the UALE membership or by vote of the Executive Board from among candidates nominated by the UALE membership.

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Here are the criteria for each of the awards, and the ways the winners are selected:

Outstanding contribution to the field

This award recognizes an outstanding example of the connection between labor education and activism: a new curriculum, important project, outstanding campaign on an issue, or an exemplary effort to use labor education to strengthen the labor movement. It can involve a formal institution of labor education, either university-, union-, or community-based. Or it can represent an independent effort outside an institutional labor ed program. It can be an on-going program, multi- year effort, or one that has ended.  Some aspect of the program must have occurred within the previous calendar year.   An individual, a program, or a project can be nominated. After the close of nominations, the UALE Board sends out a list of nominees and the membership determines the winner.

Best Book Published related to the field of Labor Education

This award is for a book published during the previous 2 year period that has been especially valuable in labor education. It is for a book that represents responsible scholarship, new ideas, creative thinking, an intellectual contribution to the labor movement, the broader workers’ movement, labor economics, politics, culture, or any other topic related to work or labor. It should be a book that can be or is used in an educational setting. After the close of nominations, the UALE Board sends out a list of all nominated books, and the membership is asked to vote to decide the winner

Lifetime Achievement Award

This award recognizes an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of labor education over the course of his or her lifetime. We are intentionally leaving the description open in order to encourage UALE members to think broadly of individuals who have contributed in different ways. After the close of nominations, the UALE Executive Board determines the recipient.

New Generation Award

This award is given for the best paper presentation at the UALE conference by a new or aspiring student, labor educator or researcher. Students and first-time presenters are encouraged to submit papers to a student scholarship selection committee. This committee, appointed by the Board, chooses the best submissions and awards their authors (full or partial) scholarships to the conference. Those selected are scheduled together for one or more panel sessions at the conference, billed as the New Generation panel. The selection committee will attend that session and choose the winner of the award based on the quality of the submitted paper as well as the presentation of the ideas on the panel.

Best article in Labor Studies Journal
published in the previous year

The recipient of this award is chosen by the LSJ editorial board.

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2019 "Labor and Social Movements: Labor Education and Organizing for Unity and Empowerment" conference in Philadelphia


Stephanie Emily

Judy Ancel, winner of 2019
Lifetime Achievement Award

Emily LB Twarog and Stepahnie Fortado,
winners of 2019 Outstanding Contribution Award


Lifetime Achievement Judy Ancel, UMO-KC, retired, and Cross Border Network
Outstanding Contribution – Stephanie Fortado and Emily E. LB. Twarog, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
New Generation – Clara Amparo Mejía Orta, UMass Amherst
Best Book Matthew Hild and Keri Leigh Merritt, editors, Reconsidering Southern Labor History: Race, Class, and Power (U FL Press, 2018)
Best Labor Studies Journal Article –  Simon Black “Community Unionism without the Community? Lessons from Labor-Community Coalitions in the Canadian Child Care Sector”, Volume 43, Issue 2, 2018



(You can download a list of all winners listed by year, or by award, at the bottom of this page.)


2017  2016 2015  2014
2013  2010 2009 2008



2018 "Shared Struggle, Strategy and Success" conference in Seattle, WA

Barb Thomas

Barb Thomas, winner of 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award

Lifetime Achievement Barb Thomas, popular educator and author
Outstanding Contribution – Greg Mantsios , Director of the Murphy Institute at CUNY
New Generation – no award: insufficient submissions
Best Book Alexandra Bradbury, Mark Brenner and Jane Slaughter, Secrets of a Successful Organizer (Labor Notes Project, 2016)
Best Labor Studies Journal Article –  Venise Wagner "Living in the Red: Black Steelworkers and the Wealth Gap" Volume 42 (1) – March 2017
2018 Special Award: Dream Resource Center at the UCLA Labor Center. Accepted on behalf of the Center by Hugo Romero




2017 "Rethink, Rebuild, Revitalize" conference in Detroit, MI

New Generation Award 
Eleni Schirmer accepts New Generation Award from EBoard member Lamoin Werner-Jaen

Outstanding Contribution – Cheryl Teare , current President of UALE, and Director of AFT Union Leadership Institute  

Lifetime Achievement Elaine Bernard, Director, Harvard Trade Union/Labor and Work Life Program
New Generation – Eleni Schirmer, UWI- Madison “When Solidarity Doesn’t Quite Strike: The 1974 Hortonville, Wisconsin, Teachers’ Strike and the Rise of Neoliberalism”
Best Book Steven K. Ashby and Robert Bruno , A Fight for the Soul of Public Education: The Story of the Chicago Teachers Strike (Cornell ILR Press, 2016)
Best Labor Studies Journal Article –  Eric D. Larson "Black Lives Matter and Bridge Building: Labor Education for a ‘New Jim Crow’ Era," Volume 41 (1) - April issue



2016 "Connecting the Dots" conference in Washington, DC

Lynn Feekin and LERC colleagues
Lynn Feekin with colleagues from LERC

Outstanding Contribution – Kim Bobo, founder and former director, Interfaith Worker Justice founder and former director, Interfaith Worker Justice
Lifetime Achievement Lynn Feekin, University of Oregon LERC, retired
New Generation – no award : insufficient submissions
Best Book Alexandra Bradbury, Mark Brenner, Jenny Brown, Jane Slaughter, Samantha Winslow , How to Jump-Start Your Union: Lessons from the Chicago Teachers , (Labor Notes, 2014)

Best Labor Studies Journal Article –  Bruce Nissen and Rick Smith "Starting from Scratch: Building Community Support for Labor Organizing in Indianapolis," Volume 39 (4) - December issue


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2015 "Local to Global" conference in Orlando, FL

Edgar Moore

Outstanding Contribution – Black Workers Centers , Steven Pitts, UC Berkeley and Lola Smallwood Cuevas, UCLA

Labor Center Lifetime Achievement Edgar Moore, retired, William Brennan Institute for Labor Studies, University of Nebraska, Omaha .
New Generation – no award: insufficient submissions

Best Book Helena Worthen, What did you Learn at Work Today?: The Forbidden Lessons of Labor Education (Hard Ball Press, 2014)

Best Labor Studies Journal Article – Thomas Marvin "Starting from Scratch: Building Community Support for Labor Organizing in Indianapolis," Volume 39 (4) - December issue



Dr. Lois Gray receives  Lifetime Achievement Award from Paul Clark

2014 "Organizing for Power" conference in Los Angeles


Outstanding Contribution – Elissa McBride , Education Director, AFSCME, and outgoing President of UALE

Lifetime Achievement Lois S. Gray Jean McKelvey/Alice Grant Professor of Labor Management Relations Emeritus, Cornell University, ILR School.

New Generation – Jackie Gabriel , "Labor Displacement and Working-Class Resilience: A Case Study of Locked Out Grain Processing Workers in America’s Heartland"

Best Book William P. Jones , The March on Washington:  Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights (W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 2013

Best Labor Studies Journal Article Marissa Brookes , " Varieties of Power in Transnational Labor Alliances: An Analysis of Workers’ Structural, Institutional, and Coalitional Power in the Global Economy.”  (Vol 38, No. 3, September.)

Read Paul Clark's speech introducing Dr. Lois Gray:   pdf Lois Gray Lifetime Achievement Award (97 KB)


2013 "Across Boundaries" conference in Toronto

Outstanding Contribution – U of Illinois Labor Education Program, School of Labor & Employment Relations, U of IL/Bob Bruno and Steven Ashby

Lifetime Achievement D’Arcy Martin

New Generation – Stephen Lockie, "Organizing the Electrical Construction Industry of the 21st Century"

Best Book Immanuel Ness , Guest Workers and Resistance to U.S. Corporate Despotism

Best Labor Studies Journal Article Leah L. Carmichael and Andrew Herod , "Dockers and Seafarers: What the Politics of Spatial Embeddedness and Geographical Scale Have Meant for Union Organizing in the European Maritime Trades.”  (Vol 37, No. 2, June.)


2012 "Subterranean Fire" conference in Pittsburgh

Outstanding Contribution – University of Wisconsin School for Workers/Corliss Olson

Lifetime Achievement Elise Bryant

Special Achievement Anne Feeney

New Generation – Lina Stepick, "Organizing immigrants in the building trades"

Best Book Frank Bardacke Trampling out the Vintage

Best Labor Studies Journal Article Ian Thomas MacDonald, “Bargaining for Rights in the Luxury City: The Strategic Dilemmas of Organized Labor’s Urban Turn.”

Exceptional Service Tess Ewing


2011 "Unfinished Business: Workers' Rights for the Next Generation" conference in New Orleans

Outstanding Contribution José La Luz

Lifetime Achievement Bruce Nissen

New Generation – Erika Wills, "From University to Union Classrooms:  Perceptions of Globalization, Unionization and Education."

Best Book Jefferson Cowie , Stayin Alive

Best Labor Studies Journal Article – Jenny Carson , "Taking on Corporate Bullies: Cintas, Laundry Workers, and Organizing in the 1930s and Twenty-First Century," Vol. 35(4)

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2010 "Borders: Walls, Bridges and Doors" conference in San Diego

Outstanding Contribution Kent Wong

Lifetime Achievement Sue Schurman

New Generation – Clare Hammonds , "Family Child-Care Providers and the Creation of a Collective Identity"

Best Book – tie between
Michael K. Honey , Going Down Jericho Road 

     Steven Ashby and C.J. Hawking, Staley: The Fight for a New American Labor Movement

Best Labor Studies Journal Article Martin Upchurch, Graham Taylor and Andy Mathers, “The Crisis of Social Democratic Unionism: The Opening up of Civil Society and the Prospects for Union Renewal in the United Kingdom, France and Germany” 34, 4 (Dec. 2009)


2009 "Imagining Alternatives" conference at the Nationoal Labor College, Silver Spring, MD

Outstanding Contribution Judy Ancel

Lifetime Achievement Charlie Micallef

New Generation – Jason Stanley, "Cross-Border Unionism in an Era of neoliberal Globalization"

Best Book Bill Fletcher Jr. and Fernando Gapasin , Solidarity Divided

Best Labor Studies Journal Article Jason Albright , “Contending Rationality, Leadership, and Collective Struggle: The 2006 Justice for Janitors Campaign at the University of Miami”

You can read about the 2009 Awards winners here.


2008 conference in Minneapolis

Outstanding Contribution Charley Richardson

New Generation – Nathan Banditelli, “Lessons Learned from the South California Grocery Strike 2003-2004”

Best Book Bev Burke, JoJo Geronimo , D’Arcy Martin, Barb Thomas, and Carol Wall , Education for Changing Unions

Best Labor Studies Journal Article Gordon Lafer , “Hospital Speedups and the Fiction of a Nursing Shortage” LSJ Vol. 30, No. 1 (Spring 2005)


Download lists of present and past winners here:

document Past winners by year 2019 (20 KB)

document Past Winners by award 2019 (19 KB)