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Historian to Receive Sol Stetin Award
updated: Apr 26, 2012, 2:38 PM
Nelson Lichtenstein, MacArthur Foundation Chair in History at UC Santa Barbara
and director of the campus's Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy,
is the recipient of the 2012 Sol Stetin Award for Labor History. The award will
be presented at the Sidney Hillman Foundation's annual Hillman Prizes ceremony
in New York City on May 1.
The Stetin Award is given each year to a scholar whose work has helped shape the
understanding of working people and the labor movement. Lichtenstein is being
recognized for his scholarship on -- and advocacy for -- the labor movement, as
well as his efforts in training a new generation of scholar-activists. As a
leading expert on Wal-Mart and other retail-sector businesses, Lichtenstein has
worked with labor groups in the U.S. and abroad to improve conditions for its
"Our campus shares great pride in Professor Lichtenstein's renowned research and
activism in labor relations, and in his leadership as director of our Center for
the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy," said UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang. "I
share in the joy of our campus that his outstanding contributions are being
recognized with the prestigious Stetin Award for Labor History."
"I am very pleased to be in the company of other great scholars and leaders who
have received the Sol Stetin Award," Lichtenstein said. "The award recognized
not only my scholarship, but also the projects I've been engaged in at UCSB, the
most significant of which is the Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and
A leading historian in the area of American labor, Lichtenstein is the author or
editor of more than a dozen books, including "The Retail Revolution: How Wal-
Mart Created a Brave New World of Business"; "State of the Union: A Century of
American Labor"; "Walter Reuther: The Most Dangerous Man in Detroit"; and
"Labor's War at Home: The CIO in World War II." Most recently, he is the editor,
with Elizabeth Tandy Shermer, of the forthcoming "The Right and American Labor:
Politics, Ideology, and the Imagination."
Lichtenstein, who earlier taught at the Catholic University of America and at
the University of Virginia, has held fellowships from the National Endowment for
the Humanities, the Rockefeller and Guggenheim Foundations, the Fulbright
Commission, and the University of California. His reviews and opinion pieces
have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Dissent, New Labor
Forum, American Prospect, and numerous academic journals.
The Stetin Award is named for the labor leader whose family emigrated from
Poland to the U.S. in 1920, and settled in Paterson, N.J. Stetin, who in 1930
took a job at a dye shop for 32 cents an hour, became active in the nationwide
textile strike of 1934, and rose in the ranks of the union's leadership. As
president of the Textile Workers Union of America, Stetin led the 17-year
organizing drive at J.P. Stevens, one of the most ambitious union organizing
campaigns in the anti-union South. During the campaign, Stetin merged his
174,000-member union with the larger Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America in
order to make more money and more manpower available for the Stevens campaign,
on which the 1979 movie "Norma Rae" was based. The union eventually organized
3,500 workers at a dozen J.P. Stevens textile mills.
Passionate about preserving the stories of workers' lives, Stetin co-founded the
American Labor Museum, housed in the Botto House National Landmark, the former
home of silk mill worker Pietro Botto and his wife, Maria. Their house served as
the meeting place for over 20,000 silk mill workers during the 1913 Paterson
Silk Strike. The strikers called for safe working conditions, an end to child
labor, and an eight-hour day.
Established in 1950 and named for the founding president of the Amalgamated
Clothing and Textile Workers Union -- the predecessor of Workers United -- the
Sidney Hillman Foundation honors journalists, writers, and public figures who
pursue social justice and public policy for the common good.
Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)
2012-04-27 09:50 AM
Congratulations, Nelson.....this explains perhaps why we have not seen you on the tennis courts.
2012-04-27 07:17 PM
Gee... sure is nice to know that my taxes pay the salary of a labor activist/trainer at UCSB. My earlier suspicions of lefty bias on the faculty at the big U have now been confirmed.
Wish I had some way to withhold my share of income taxes that pay for Mr. Lichtenstein's salary. I question the validity and the need for such a staff position that is paid for with public funds. Appalling at best!
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