Joe Hill Award

Our 2023 winners; meet them at this year’s Great Labor Arts Exchange!

Susan Eisenberg and Dave Elsila are the 2023 Joe Hill awardees. The Joe Hill Award is awarded annually at the Great Labor Arts Exchange Arts by the Labor Heritage Foundation. 

The award is named for Joe Hill, a radical songwriterlabor activist and member of the Industrial Workers of the World. His arrest and subsequent conviction on trumped-up charges generated international support and his execution in 1915 has inspired generations of activists and troublemakers.  

The Labor Heritage Foundation began presenting the Joe Hill Award in 1989, honoring the lifetime achievement of individuals for a body of work in the field of labor art, history, education and culture. 

Susan Eisenberg, retired member of IBEW 103, is author of We’ll Call You If We Need You: Experiences of Women Working Construction, a nonfiction NYT Notable Book based on interviews with 30 women who — like herself — were among the first to become union electricians, carpenters, painters, ironworkers and plumbers. IBEW International President Lonnie Stephenson called the book “a classic of labor history.” She’s used interview material in poems, articles, and a mixed media art installation that exhibited at the AFL-CIO, as well as an interactive digital exhibition, On Equal Terms: gender & solidarity. Author of five poetry books, including Stanley’s Girl (Cornell, 2018) and Pioneering (Cornell 1998), she is Poetry Editor of the journal, Labor: Studies in Working Class History.

David Elsila, the first labor journalist to receive the Joe Hill Award, has played a significant role in defending, preserving and celebrating labor heritage and culture and utilizing it in the fight for peace and social justice. He made the UAW Solidarity magazine the jewel of American labor journalism for more than two decades, and since leaving the UAW in 1998, his pace has only increased. He played a major role in creating the Labor Legacy Landmark in Detroit, co-authored books on labor history and social justice and became a theatre producer when he brought Steve Jones’ jazz opera to Detroit.

2023Susan Eisenberg & David Elsila
2022Gary Huck and Mike Konopacki
2021Ysaye Barnwell and Steve Jones
2019Kathleen Farrell & Si Kahn
2018John McCutcheon & Lynn Marie Smith
2017Bev Grant & Janet Stecher
2016Luci Murphy & Jimmy Kelly
2015Fruit of Labor Singing Ensemble
2014Pat Wynne & Charlie King
2013Barbara Bailey & Shelley Kessler
2012Saul Schniderman & Pablo Davis
2011Jon Fromer & Bobbie Rabinowitz
2010Jerry Gray
2009Ricardo Levins Morales
2008Peter Jones
2007Julius Margolin
2006Joe Uehlein
2005Anne Feeney
2004Utah Phillips
2003Hazel Dickens
2002Faith Petric
2001Baldemar Velasquez
2000Rev. James Orange
1999Guy and Candie Carawan
1998Archie Green
1997Joe Glazer
1996Anne Romaine
1995Pete Seeger
1994Moe Foner
1993Cesar Chavez
1992Joyce Kornbluh
1991Ralph Fasanella
1990Emmanuel Fried
1989John Handcox