Seattle, Washington, 2017

Organizing Committee

  • co-chair: Nikki Mandell
    University of Wisconsin – Whitewater
  • co-chair: Shelton Stromquist
    University of Iowa
  • Keona K. Ervin
  • Eric Fure-Slocum
  • Julie Greene
  • Jim Gregory
  • Sonia Hernandez
  • Toby Higbie
  • Jennifer Klein
  • Emily Twarog
  • Naomi R. Williams

The Scales of Struggle conference featured the largest program of any LAWCHA conference to date features nearly 100 panels, workshops, films, and performances, along with five plenary sessions, stretched across four days. Official registration topped 460 with another 100-150 attending the free evening sessions. Here are highlights of the awards ceremony, membership meeting, plenaries, and panels including a flickr album of photographs.

President’s Welcome Message

We gather at a critical time, in an instructive place, with a theme —Scales of Struggle —that captures the urgency of this moment. Six months into the regime of Donald J. Trump, the world waits, breathing shallowly, as the craziness unfolds. One thing is clear — resistance matters. The rightwing agenda has been slowed because of the determined resistance of the millions who have taken to the streets, because of brave journalists who are determined to expose the truth, because some judges and state and city officials have said no, and all of that is because Labor and social movements devoted to immigrant rights, women’s rights, and Black Lives Matter have stood strong, fighting back even as the risks escalate.

Seattle is the right place for this gathering. It offers recent and historic examples of smart and effective struggles that have won victories for working people. This is a city where unions remain strong and where movements for social justice exert influence both in policy and public imagination. And it is a city that embraces its labor history.

LAWCHA President Jim Gregory at the 2017 LAWCHA Conference Plenary

The Scales of Struggle conference features nearly 100 panels, workshops, films, and performances, along with five plenary sessions. We scale geography, from local to global. We scale time, across three centuries. And we scale struggles, ranging from work-based organization to social movements, from direct action to educational campaigns, from local alliances to transnational coalitions. The program also tracks four sub-themes: War and Empire (on this centennial of WWI); Borders and Coalitions (as the struggle for immigrant rights takes new urgency); Struggling for Justice (as every expectation of justice is threatened); Public Work of Labor History (uncovering the work of teachers, labor educators and public historians).

If you have not managed a conference of this scope, you can’t appreciate the contribution of the two people who have done the most to make it possible. Co-chairs Nikki Mandell and Shel Stromquist wove together this complicated program, helped by committee members Keona Ervin, Eric Fure-Slocum, Julie Green, Sonia Hernandez, Toby Higbie, Jennifer Klein, Nancy MacLean, Emily Twarog, and Naomi Williams. The Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies hosts the conference, led by Director Michael McCann and Associate Director Andrew Hedden. We are also very grateful for financial support provided by the UW History Department and the UW Social Sciences Division. At a critical moment, History Librarian Theresa Mudrock volunteered to design and produce this printed program. My deepest thanks to all.

—James Gregory, President, Labor and Working Class History Association

Prize Winners and Distinguished Service Awards

Philip Taft Labor History Book Award

LaShawn Harris, Sex Workers, Psychics, and Numbers Runners: Black Women in New York City’s Underground Economy (University of Illinois Press, 2016)

David Montgomery Book Award

Ryan Patrick Murphy, Deregulating Desire: Flight Attendant Activism, Family Politics, and Workplace Justice (Temple University Press, 2016)

Herbert G. Gutman Prize for Outstanding Dissertation

James C. Benton, “Fraying Fabric: Textile Labor, Trade Politics, and Deindustrialization, 1933-1974” (Georgetown University dissertation directed by Prof. Joseph McCartin)

Distinguished Service to Labor and Working-Class History

Eileen Boris

A former Board member of LAWCHA and for many years chair of the Program Committee, Eileen Boris holds the Hull Endowed Chair in the Department of Feminist Studies, at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Nelson Lichtenstein

A founding member of the LAWCHA Board of Directors, Nelson Lichtenstein is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of History at UCSB, where he directs the Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy.


Want to add photos or other media? Email them to [email protected]. Don’t forget to include a caption and photo credit.


Photos are courtesy of Herman Gilman

SEIU Janitors Session

Photos are courtesy of Herman Gilman


Photos are courtesy of Herman Gilman

Archives Plenary

Photos are courtesy of Herman Gilman

Mass Incarceration and the Working Class

At the 2017 LAWCHA Conference in Seattle, a world-class panel of experts discussed the affects of mass incarceration on the working class. Featured in the talks are Heather Ann Thompson, Kelly Lytle Hernandez, and Chelsea Nelson. Upcoming LAWCHA president Julie Greene presides over the session. Credit for the video goes to Mike McCormick, radio station KEXP.