Our 2023 winners; meet them at this year’s Great Labor Arts Exchange!
The award is named for Joe Hill, a radical songwriter, labor 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.
|2023||Susan Eisenberg & David Elsila|
|2022||Gary Huck and Mike Konopacki|
|2021||Ysaye Barnwell and Steve Jones|
|2019||Kathleen Farrell & Si Kahn|
|2018||John McCutcheon & Lynn Marie Smith|
|2017||Bev Grant & Janet Stecher|
|2016||Luci Murphy & Jimmy Kelly|
|2015||Fruit of Labor Singing Ensemble|
|2014||Pat Wynne & Charlie King|
|2013||Barbara Bailey & Shelley Kessler|
|2012||Saul Schniderman & Pablo Davis|
|2011||Jon Fromer & Bobbie Rabinowitz|
|2009||Ricardo Levins Morales|
|2000||Rev. James Orange|
|1999||Guy and Candie Carawan|