United Association for Labor Education - 2019 Conference

In partnership with the Labor School at Penn state

Conference Art

Philadelphia, PA
April 2-5,  2019

Conference participants:   Please fill out the conference survey here

Conference Photos: Photos of the conference can now be seen in our photo gallery. Thanks to Alicia Flores for the great majority of them. More of Alicia's conference photos can be seen here. Also, thanks to Helena Worthen and Joe Berry, who also contributed shots.

Papers and Presentations   Conference Photos
Achievement Awards About the Conference  Conference Format
Agenda Conference App Downloads


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UALE Achievement Awards 2019

The following awards were given at this year's conference


Lifetime Achievement Award

Emily and Judy 
Judy Ancel receives Lifetime Achievement Award from UALE Secretary Emily LB Twarog


This year, the Lifetime Achievement Award went to Judy Ancel. Last year Judy Ancel retired from the University of Missouri-Kansas City labor education program. Despite her protests, the university did not replace her thereby shuttering the program. Judy spent a lifetime dedicated to building the Missouri labor education program across the state. Her work gained national attention when Andrew Breitbart attacked Ancel for teaching violence in her classroom. The smear campaign put the labor education program at risk, but Ancel stood her ground and took on Breitbart and far right propaganda machine. Her work has gone beyond labor education, she is the president and co-founder of the Cross Border Network for Justice and Solidarity and the coordinator of the weekly independent radio show, The Heartland Labor Forum. Ancel has been a mentor to many labor activists, union members, organizers, and educators. And she continues to work her hardest to bring justice to the heartland and beyond.

You can see a video of Judy delivering her acceptance speech here.


Best Published Book 2018-2019

The Best Published Book Award this year went to Matthew Hild and Keri Leigh Merritt, editors, Reconsidering Southern Labor History: Race, Class, and Power (University of Florida Press, 2018)

The American Dream of reaching success through sheer sweat and determination rings false for countless members of the working classes. This volume shows that many of the difficulties facing workers today have deep roots in the history of the exploitation of labor in the South. Contributors make the case that the problems that have long beset southern labor, including the legacy of slavery, low wages, lack of collective bargaining rights, and repression of organized unions, have become the problems of workers across the country.

Spanning nearly all of U.S. history, the essays in this collection range from West Virginia to Florida to Texas. They examine vagrancy laws in the early republic, inmate labor at state penitentiaries, mine workers and union membership, and strikes and the often-violent strikebreaking that followed. They also look at pesticide exposure among farmworkers, labor activism during the civil rights movement, and foreign owned auto factories in the rural South. They distinguish between different struggles experienced by women and men, as well as by African American, Latino, and white workers.


Outstanding Contribution to the Field of Labor Education

The winners of the Outstanding Achievement Award were Stephanie Fortado and Emily E. LB. Twarog, of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, for their program “Women and Power: Building a Toolbox for Leadership”, a six-month advanced leadership course for graduates of the Regina V. Polk Women’s Labor Leadership Conference. Launched this year, the program builds on the introductory work of the Polk Conference with a smaller cohort of women. Candidates for the program go through a rigorous application process. Once accepted they attended a series of weekend and weeknight classes to develop their communications skills, develop a deeper understanding of politics within and outside of their organizations, engage in meaning sharing sessions on their personal challenges as they cultivate their leadership skills and trajectory. This course is a unique contribution because it melds both popular education methods with a more traditional college credit course through homework assignments such as readings, writing assignments, class presentations, and a day in the Women and Leadership archives in Chicago. This program received two grants totaling $40,000 allowing the women to attend for free if their unions cannot pay.


 Best Labor Studies Journal Article

Simon Black of Brock University won the Best Labor Studies Journal Article for “Community Unionism without the Community? Lessons from Labor-Community Coalitions in the Canadian Child Care Sector,” Labor Studies Journal, Volume 43, Issue 2, 2018. The theory and practice of community unionism has been central to discussions of alt-labor, union renewal, and revitalization, particularly in relation to union praxis at the urban or local scale. This comparative case study explores two labor-community campaigns to defend public child care services in the context of neoliberal austerity in urban/suburban space. While labor-community coalitions are a necessary—if not sufficient—condition for success, in urban/suburban contexts in which community allies are weak and municipal administrations hostile, public-sector unions must continue to play a leading role in campaigns despite the risk of being cast as defenders of sectional interests rather than of the public good. In such contexts, union involvement in community organizing is a necessary precursor to successful labor-community campaigns.


New Generation Award

 The winner of the New Generatiion Award is decided at the conference. The nominees each present their papers at a special session, and a selection committee makes the decision. This year's award went to Clara Amparo Mejía Orta, of UMass Amherst, for her paper "How Latinx Labor Leaders Claim Spaces in the Movement: Immigrant Rights, Social Justice Unionism, and the United Latinxs of the UFCW"


About the Conference

The UALE conference feature presentations, workshops, posters and other activities from labor union, university, and community practitioners related to our 2019 theme:


Our perilous and rapidly evolving contemporary period illustrates both the various challenges workers experience on the job and in society, and the resiliency and militancy with which workers have mobilized. Facing capital flight, contingent labor systems, automation, structural inequality and racism, and strident political opposition, workers have cultivated new movements and avenues for mobilizing to challenge—and often to emerge victorious against—these powerful forces. For example, movements and strikes in areas such as education, health care, telecommunications, hospitality, technology, fast-food, transportation, the growing fields of contingent employment, and the incarcerated in recent years have frequently crossed boundaries of race, gender, nationality, class, and other identities to grow bases of support and achieve important gains.

Please join us April 2-5, 2019, in Philadelphia for the United Association for Labor Education’s conference where labor and community educators, scholars and activists will share teaching innovations, analyses, applied research and experiences in the field. We aim to highlight and understand new approaches to labor organizing that respond to current challenges, as well as the role of labor education in building power. Finally we are interested in practices and ideas that support leadership development of young workers to expand and strengthen our movement.


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Conference Format

The UALE Conference generally offers two types of sessions: plenary and concurrent.

Concurrent Sessions run for up to two hours, several of which take place during the same time slot. Sessions vary in structure to provide a rich and diverse conference experience for presenters and participants; they offer some combination of the formats listed below.

  • Panel Sessions include multiple presenters who share their work on a similar topic. Each panelist will have equal time to present his or her work, followed by Q&A and discussion. By offering presentations on different aspects of a single topic, panel sessions engender engaging discussion among presenters and the audience. Session chairs will be appointed in advance and will be responsible for planning with panelists prior to the session.
  • Paper Sessions can include research papers, case studies, or other kinds of reports related to labor education. These sessions offer presentations from authors who have written about a generally related topic. Each author will have equal time to present their work, after which the session chair will lead discussion.  Authors should submit an abstract for consideration; full-length manuscripts should be submitted prior to the conference. Session chairs will be appointed in advance and will be responsible for planning with authors prior to the session.
  • Roundtable Discussions provide an opportunity for participatory discussion of labor education issues or programs, research in progress, or other relevant topics in an informal setting around a table or in a circle of chairs. The convener poses a series of questions to participants and leads a conversation. Roundtable Discussions draw heavily on the experience of those in the room.
  • Teaching Demonstrations engage participants in an interactive manner that facilitates group participation in some form, and utilizes labor education techniques, particularly popular education. Activities are typically followed by discussion of the technique(s) demonstrated and the uses to which they might be put. Facilitators are encouraged to offer their design and materials to participants to adapt and use.
  • Poster Sessions provide an opportunity to present and discuss a single theme or relevant topic in an informal setting, somewhat like an exhibit hall or information fair. A good poster presents useful information with engaging graphics to stimulate discussion. Poster presenters should prepare a display using easily understood printed text and graphics on a board no larger than 30” x 40.” Presenters should prepare welcoming remarks for conference attendees and explain their posters. Attendees and presenters will then discuss the posters and the topics they address. It is helpful to provide handouts for participants with presenters’ contact information to facilitate future dialogue. In order to have a poster accepted for display at the conference, please submit a photograph of the poster with a brief accompanying explanation of its content and purpose.

Plenary Sessions are two hours long and designed to bring all conference attendees together around important areas of labor education. Plenary sessions are determined by UALE’s Executive Board, but UALE members are welcome to submit suggestions and volunteer to help develop plenary sessions.  

UALE encourages submissions that relate directly to the conference theme. However, we will accept submissions focused on other areas.  

Some sessions are organized by Working Groups around their specific areas of interest. Working Groups typically solicit group-member input to develop proposals, and new members are always welcome. Working Group information is available at www.uale.org, and current Working Groups include:

  • Central Labor Council (CLC)
  • Immigration/Globalization
  • K-14 Labor Education
  • On-Line Education
  • Popular Education
  • Worker Writers
  • Labor Film Documentarians
  • Young Workers

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The up-to-date agenda, as of March 25, can be downloaded here or under "Conference Quicklinks" at top right of the page.

(If you see a conflict between the schedule below and the download, the download is probably moreuo-to-date.) 


Monday, April 1

 3:00 - 7:00 pm   

 UALE Executive Board meeting


Tuesday, April 2



 Labor History Bus Tour (separate registration)
 Meet in Foyer
2:00 - 6:00pm         Registration Open
4:00 - 6:00pm

 Opening Session and Plenar:
 The Philadelpgia Story: Fighting Back for Gender Equity, Fair Work Schedules, and Transit Justice (bilingual session, English/Spanish)(Sesión bilingüe, español/inglés)

6:30 - 7:30pm


6:30 - 7:30pm Poster Session Presentations (for details, download Conference Agenda here)
 7:00pm Working Group Meetings (TBA)

Wednesday, April 3

 7:00-8:00am                        Breakfast Buffet
 8:00am-12:00pm                      Registration Open
 8:15 - 9:45am                    Concurrent Sessions (for details, download Conference Agenda here)
9:45 - 10:20am  Coffee Break/Networking
10:30am - 12:00pm Regional Meetings (Note change in time)

Canada  Penn
 Midwest  Betsy Ross 2
 Northeast  FJH
 Southern  Sherman
 Western  Adams
12:15pm - 1:30pm

 Lunch (on your own)

 Women's Caucus Lunch

1:45pm - 3:15 pm  Plenary
"Democracy in Chains": Stories of the Federal Shutdown, featuring historian and author Nancy MacLean (bilingual session, English/Spanish)(Sesión bilingüe, español/inglés)
3:15 - 3:45pm  Coffee Break and Networking
 4:00 - 5:30pm Concurrent Sessions (for details, download Conference Agenda here)
 5:30 - 7:00pm  Dinner on your own
 5:30 - 7:00pm  Directors' Meeting
5:30 - 6:30pm

Working Group Meetings

immigration & Globalization  Penn
 Young Workers  Betsy Ross 2
 Central Labor Councils  Sherman
 Documentary Labor Film  Adams
 Popular Education  Betsy Ross 1
 Online Education  FJH
 7:30 - 10:00pm

 Cultural Event
"We Were There" with Bev Grant and Your UALE Sisters
 Arch Street Meetinghouse - a National Historic Landmark
 320 Arch Street, next to the hotel

Program begins at 8:00pm sharp
Desserts and Drinks will be served


Thursday, April 4

 7:00-8:00am     Breakfast
 8:15 - 10:30am

 Membership Meeting [note new time and day]Notice: There will be a vote on pproposed changes to the UALE constitution and bylaws regarding annual or biennial meetings and regional events . Relevant documents can be downloaded here.

 10:45 - 12:15pm Concurrent Sessions (for details, download Conference Agenda here)
 12:15- 1:30pm

 Lunch on your own

 LSJ Editorial Board
Betsy Ross 2

 Workers of Color Lunch

 1:45pm - 3:15pm Concurrent Sessions (for details, download Conference Agenda here)
 3:15pm - 3:35pm

 Coffee Break/Networking

 3:45pm - 5:15pm Concurrent Sessions (for details, download Conference Schedule here)
 5:15 - 6:15pm Poster Session Presentations (for details, download Conference Agenda here)
 6:30 - 10:00pm
 Awards Banquet and Dance

Friday, April 5

 7:00-8:00am    Breakfast
 8:15 - 10:45am Concurrent Sessions (for details, download Conference Agenda here)
11:00am - 12:30pm  Plenary
"Nothing About Us Without Us": Immigrant Workers Stand Up to Donald Trump
(bilingual session, English/Spanish)(Sesión bilingüe, español/inglés)
1:00 - 2:00 pm UALE Executive Board meeting



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Conference App

Get the free 2019 UALE Conference App on your mobile device, or access it from your computer.

With the app, you can:

  • View the full conference schedule
  • Learn about each session and the presenters
  • Make your own schedule
  • See the hotel floor plan to find your sessions
  • Learn about UALE's upcoming events
  • Share your photos
  • and more!

Download instructions for the app at bottom of page or from Conference Downloads at right.


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Conference Downloads

pdf UALE 2019 Conference full program (7.79 MB)

pdf Conference Agenda - FINAL draft (1.27 MB)

pdf App Instructions (18.92 MB)

Call for Proposals

Conference Brochure

Research Grant Application

New Generation Award flyer

document 2019 comm org grant application English (42 KB)

document 2019 comm org grant application Spanish (43 KB)


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