Borders: Walls, Bridges, and Doors

UALE Conference participants: we would like to post your papers, presentations and photos form the conference on this site. If you are willing to share them, please send to Tess Ewing


UALE Third Annual Achievement Awards

For the third time, this year UALE gave out awards in 5 categories:

  1. Lifetime Achievement
  2. Outstanding Contribution to the Field of Labor Studies
  3. Best Book related to the field of Labor Studies published in 2007-2009
  4. Best Labor Studies Journal Article published in 2007-2009
  5. New Generation Award (The awardee is chosen at the conference from among the winners of New Generation Scholarships for students and/or first-time presenters)

Our Lifetime Achievement and Outstanding Contribution Awards went to two people who have, in this period when institution-building for the labor movement is extremely difficult, managed to not only sustain but develop, adapt, expand and promote their institutions. We celebrate the creativity, courage and dedication that these two, Sue Schurman and Kent Wong, have demonstrated as labor educators.

See photos of the award ceremony in the 2010 Conference Photo Gallery.


Susan J. Schurman, Director of Lifelong Learning for the Division of Continuous Education and Outreach, and acting Dean of the University College Community at Rutgers.

Sue Schurman left an MA program in higher education to become a bus driver at a time when the bus company was hiring women in hopes of getting a more docile workforce. Sue ran for, and won, the position of local union president and also became director of driving training. Her classes addressed driver anger, stress and map literacy. After getting her PhD at the University of Michigan, she served as Director of Labor Studies there, conducting research on occupational stress among auto workers. From 1992-1997 she was Director of Labor Extension Programs at Rutgers. In 1997, she moved to the George Meany Center, where, over the next ten years, she guided its transformation from a training center to an independent institution of higher learning. In 2004, the GMC-National Labor College was granted accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Its new Kirkland Center had distance learning capabilities, conference center and dining accommodations facilities. In 2005 the National Labor College received $1 million grant from the Kellogg Foundation to create a seamless system of partnerships among community college, apprenticeship programs and the college itself. By now, well over 1,000 union men and women have earned bachelor’s degrees from the NLC. Schurman left the NLC in September, 2007, and is now a Professor in the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers.


Kent Wong, Director, UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education

Since coming to UCLA in 1991, Kent Wong has built a dynamic, visible, proactive labor center that has made labor education a player on the political map of California.  His commitments to living wage campaigns, affirmative action, fair immigration policy, defense of the public sector and dialog with the Chinese and Vietnamese trade unions have shaped the development of the Center, which now, with a 40-member Advisory Board, bridges the University and the labor movement through ongoing collaborative projects. Among other activities, the Center offers a Labor and Workplace Studies minor for undergraduates, leads a labor summer internship, and hosts the California Construction Academy. In 2009, the UCLA Labor Center and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor launched the Miguel Contreras Worker Resource Center as a joint project to promote immigrant integration, civic participation, and educational access. Maria Elena Durazo, leader of the Labor Federation and widow of Miguel Contreras, serves as the President.  Kent Wong serves as the Secretary.  Kent was a good friend of Miguel, and published the first book on his life in 2009:  Miguel Contreras:  Legacy of a Labor Leader. The UCLA Labor Center is working closely with the Miguel Contreras High School in Los Angeles to develop a labor studies pilot project which is using the book on Miguel to promote a deeper understanding of the labor movement among high school youth throughout the Los Angeles Unified School District.  

 Kent Wong attended the Los Angeles People’s College of Law, passed the California bar in 1984, went to work for SEIU Local 660 as staff attorney and, while working at UCLA, became the first president of APALA, the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance.


This year, we had a tie in this category. The Best Book Award went to two books:

Going Down Jericho Road:  The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King's Last Campaign.  2008. by Michael K. Honey.

Going Down Jericho Road tells the story of the February of 1968 AFSCME sanitation workers strike in Memphis, Tennessee.  During the two months that followed that decision, a series of monumental events occurred in Memphis, including the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The book is a powerful account of these events, rich in detail and exceptionally well written.  There are other books that document these events, but Michael Honey's book is the most accurate and analytical reflection yet written.  He captures the fact that this was a strike that was more about human spirit than a nickel more an hour.  This book makes an important contribution and is a valuable tool for labor educators.

Staley: The Fight for a New American Labor Movement.  2009.  by Steven Ashby and C.J. Hawking.

Ashby and Hawking have written the best kind of book for labor educators; they have told a powerful story of struggle that can be read.  Labor educators need tools that enable them to synthesize the particular fortunes of working men and women with the conditions of the working class as a whole.  They need stories, like Staley, that can be read as intimate case studies or meta-narratives of a "war on the workers."  Like all good stories there is a clear and powerful enemy- the corporation.  Ashby and Hawking describe a very profitable "conglomerate" with global operations with little regard for worker safety and well being.  But also like all tales worth listening to there are unexpected enemies or at least unexpected antagonists.  Ashby and Hawking inform the reader a labor student that it was more than capitalism "run amok" that confronted the workers in central Illinois' "War Zone."  Here there are other groups, inside the house of labor that choose not to stand with the heroic workers of local 837.  Is it betrayal?  Are the workers heroic or misguided?  It's a darn good story and the kind that labor educators need to tell


The winner of this award is chosen by the Editorial Board of Labor Studies Journal.

This year, the award went toMartin Upchurch, Graham Taylor and Andy Mathers, authors of “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 (December 2009).


Ian MacDonald
Title: Labor, Community, and the Right to the City: Bargaining for Rights in Coney Island

Clare Hammonds
Title: Family Child-Care Providers and the Creation of a Collective Identity

Junko Ihrke
Title: Sanctuary for Day Laborers Under a Broken Immigration System

Susanna Quail
Learning From the Past and Engaging the Future: Intergeneration Dialogue on Union-Building

Julian Jeffries, Boston College
Undocumented Youth’s Negotiation and Access to Labor: Implications for Policy


(Chosen from among scholarship winners)

Clare Hammonds: Family Child-Care Providers and the Creation of a Collective Identity

Papers and Presentations

Conference presenters: Please send us your papers, Power Point presentations and/or other materials, and we will upload them to this site to make them available to others.

2010 Conference Archive

The rest of this page is pre-conference information.

March 24 - 27, 2010
Island Palms Hotel and Marina
2051 Shelter Island Drive
San Diego, CA 92106

Conference program available for download   pdf here .

Special preconference activity: Tijuana Maquiladora Tour

Come to learn about Tijuana maquiladora workers' conditions and struggles!
Wednesday, March 24, 10:00 am - 3:30 pm.

Friday Night Cultural Event

Don't miss it!

Urban Latin dance theatre

8:30 – 10:00 pm
at San Diego Community College
Admission free for conference attendees; $25 for others

The experience of work today is shaped by shifting forces that are at once geographic, economic, political and national. This is a conference for labor educators and labor movement activists who want to learn and share their efforts to act effectively in this rapidly changing arena.

With globalization, capital crosses borders freely, with little regulation and very few hindrances. The opposite is true for people seeking work -- this in spite of the fact that millions of people, displaced by wars, climate change, neoliberal policies and repression, have lost all economic opportunities at home and must leave or die.

Union contracts and structures are rooted in a past that is quickly disappearing. How should unions  rethink membership, accountability and structure? Can unions integrate and promote the needs of non-members as well as members? Do unions need to broaden policy concerns to address housing, transportation, and public education as well as health care?

Please note: Information on this page is preliminary. The page will be updated as more details become available.


  • Pre-conference Maquiladora Tour to Tijuana: 10:00 am -3:30 pm Wednesday, March 24.
  • Welcome reception for new members: 7:00 pm Wednesday evening, March 24
  • Opening plenary: 10 am Thursday  March 25
  • Reception:  7:00 pm Thursday evening March 25
  • Plenary: 10:00 am - 12:00 noon Friday March 26
  • Membership meeting and elections: 4:00 – 6:00 pm Friday March 26
  • Special Cultural Event: Contra-Tiempo, urban Latin dance theatre 8:30 – 10:00 pm Friday March 26
    Free for conference attendees; $25 for others.
  • Awards luncheon: 12:00 – 2:00 Saturday March 27

To Register

To register, mail in a registration form with a check or purchase order attached, or register online and pay with a credit card via PayPal.

For any registration questions contact UALE Treasurer Robert Ginsburg at

Register by February 28, 2010 to get advance registration rate

                                                ADVANCE (Until February 28)                    REGULAR
Member………………………………………………        $250 ___                                 $300 ___
Nonmember………………………………………          $350 ___                                  $400 ___
One Day Registration…………………………           $100 ___                                    $150 ___
Student, retired or unemployed…………            $30 ___                                      $50 ___

To get the membership rate, become a member. For information on joining UALE, including dues rates and online form, click on the "Join Us!" link on the menu.

Language & Special Accomodation Needs

  • If you have language translation needs, call or email Deborah Rosenstein at 612-626-2034,
  • If you will require special accommodation, send a message to us via the "Email us" link at the very bottom of the page, and a UALE officer will contact you.

Hotel information
Island Palms Hotel and Marina
2051 Shelter Island Drive
San Diego, CA 92106

To reserve rooms at the Island Palms Hotel at the conference rate ($169 per night for single or double) go to the Island Palms website (www.islandpalms.com).

Click on the "reservations" link at the top of their web page and then click on "Group Reservations". 

Then enter "01G" in Attendee Code box to get to the conference registration page. 

You can also call the hotel (619-222-0561) and identify yourself as part of United Association for Labor Education- UALE 2010 conference to be eligible for conference rate.

UALE Conference rate guaranteed through March 9, 2010.

Call for Proposals

Deadline for Proposals: Nov. 30

In 2006 and 2007 the UALE annual conferences focused on structural issues for the labor movement and labor education.  In 2008 we moved the topic to examine workers’ rights as human rights. In 2009, anticipating that important changes would be taking place in our social and political environment, we asked our presenters to focus on alternatives for labor. In 2010 we are looking at borders broadly defined: edges where the differences between countries, cultures, social classes and political entities are sharpest, and the means by which those differences are bridged, crossed or penetrated.

We welcome proposals that challenge the very assumptions and directions of labor education and the labor movement, as well as those that imagine the future of labor education and/or the labor movement differently.  

One of the major purposes of the UALE Conference is to provide an informal setting for union-based, community-organization based and university labor educators to meet and discuss the strategies they use to help build the labor movement.

Therefore we encourage union-based and community organization-based labor educators, as well as academic labor educators, to submit proposals for workshops, panels and papers. Special attention will be given to proposals that offer demonstrations of educational tools and strategies that might be adapted by fellow educators.  How do these tools differ from past practices?  How might they help us confront new challenges?  How can we learn to implement them?

Note: Labor Studies Journal will be sponsoring 1 or more special sessions on "Labor and the Environment". Download the Call (above) for more information on the LSJ session and how to submit a paper for it.

How to Submit a Proposal

1.  Create a title page for your submission.  The title page should include:

a. title of the submission
b. topic area of the submission 
c. presentation format (choose from list below)
d. name(s) of the author(s)
e. department(s) and affiliation(s)
f.  mailing address(es)
g. e-mail address(es)
h. phone number(s)
i.  fax number(s)
j.  corresponding author if different than lead author

2Email your abstract and/or a summary of your paper, no more than 750 words long, along with a title page to UALE Conference Review Committee, care of Helena Worthen at . Receipt of submissions will be acknowledged via email within 1 week.

3.  Presentation Formats

  • Paper sessions will consist of three to five presentations in a 120 minute session.  The session will be divided equally between the presenters.  A session moderator will time each presentation and introduce the session.
  • Workshop presentations will be given a full 120 minute session.  Workshops are interactive sessions that involve participants.
  • Panel sessions will provide an opportunity for three or more presenters to speak in a more open and conversational setting with conference attendees.  Submissions for these 120  minute sessions should include the name, department, affiliation, and email address of each panelist in addition to a description of the presentation and the title page.

Deadline for proposals is Monday, November 30, 2009.  Please send them by e-mail to or

Labor Studies Journal Special Sessions

The Labor Studies Journal invites submission of papers on the theme of "Labor and the Environment". Best papers will be selected for presentation at the 2010 UALE Conference and afterwards will undergo the peer-review process for possible publication in the Labor Studies Journal Special Issue.

UALE Achievement Awards, 2010

At the conference, UALE will be giving out achievement awards in the following categories:

  1. Outstanding Contribution to the Field of Labor Studies
  2. Best Labor Studies Journal Article published in 2007-2009
  3. Best Book related to the field of Labor Studies published in 2007-2009
  4. Lifetime Achievement
  5. New Generation Scholarships (at least 6)
  6. New Generation Award for best paper (chosen at the conference from among scholarship winners)

 We invite nominations for the awards for Outstanding Contribution, Lifetime Achievement and Best Book. The award for Best book will then be voted on by the UALE membership from those nominated. THE UALE Executive Board will choose the winners of the other two from among the nominees. The Labor Studies Journal Editorial Board will choose the winner of the best LSJ Article.

Students and first-time presenters are encouraged to apply for the New Generation Scholarships and the New Generation best paper award.