From Mary Bellman, UALE President:
Our U.S.- and Canadian-based comrades from the United Association for Labor Education (UALE) held their biennial conference from May 24-27, 2021 with over 200 participants joining from around the globe given the online format. The conference theme, Reimagining Workers’ Education to Transform the World, responded to the urgent crises of the moment and the centered worker education to build more equity and justice during this time of social and economic change.
Spread over four days with many breaks built in, the conference offered two plenary sessions, workshops with curriculum sharing, applied research papers, cultural events, and informal coffee chats and networking. To increase accessibility, the conference used sliding scale pricing and full Spanish/English translation.
Two plenaries opened and closed the conference, with the first focused on Covid-19 and Black Workers. A distinguished panel of historians from various perspectives examined the impact of the pandemic on Black workers in the U.S. and the legacy of racism in health care, economics, and the labor market. Speakers included Joe William Trotter, Jr., Ashley Howard, and Lou Turner, moderated by Augustus Wood. In the closing plenary, IFWEA’s general secretary, Sahra Ryklief and Vice-President, Giovanna Larco, participated in a conversation with UALE President Mary Bellman, sharing a global perspective on the promise and challenges of online labor education.
UALE presented several awards during the conference, with the Outstanding Achievement in Labor Education awarded to Jennifer Sherer for work at the University of Iowa Labor Center. The Best Book Award was given to The Cost of Free Shipping: Amazon in the Global Economy, Edited by Jake Alimahomed-Wilson and Ellen Reese.
During the conference, UALE also held its biennial membership meeting and officer elections. The Executive Board welcomed new members Guillermo Morales, Erica Iheme, Denise Hampden, and Adrian Williams. Participants signed up for committees and working groups to help maintain a vibrant and engaged organization of labor education.
The 2021 UALE conference would not have been possible without the all-volunteer effort of a dedicated group of individuals who coordinated the conference program, logistics, language justice, and critical tech support. Organizational sponsors who provided both financial support and in-kind support included CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies; University of Illinois at Chicago Public Health; Illinois School of Labor and Employment Relations, and DePaul University Labor Education Center. To see the full conference program, visit https://uale.org/conference-agenda-agenda-de-la-conferencia/
UALE will host its next conference in Chicago, IL from May 24-27, 2022. All are invited to attend!