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Dear CAWLS members,
Dear participants in the CAWLS 2020 Annual Conference,

The CAWLS Executive Committee has been following closely the situation around Covid-19 and its impact on academic activities. The Congress of Humanities and Social Science, of which our 2020 Annual Conference is part, has now announced that in-person Congress will not happen this year. They have offered associations support to move to a virtual congress to be held during the same scheduled period.

The CAWLS Executive has decided not to go forward with a virtual conference and to cancel our 2020 Annual Conference. This is not a decision we are taking lightly. We recognize the hard work Congress has put into offering an alternative to its member associations and are grateful for their efforts. However, we do not think this is a viable alternative for the CAWLS 2020 Annual Conference. As much as we acknowledge how communication technologies can improve our work and facilitate debates and exchanges, we believe such a major shift should be the product of an orderly, democratic, and collegial deliberation. In the current situation, the conditions will not allow such a discussion to happen and rushing into a virtual conference could lead to major issues in terms of technical accessibility and attendance. This decision has been made in close coordination with the Program Committee, who has confirmed that the schedule they had put together, although very promising, was designed for an in-person event and that switching to a virtual format would involve significant work for perhaps little return.

We are aware of the impact this decision will have on our members. We want to make clear that anybody who had already registered for Congress will get a full refund of their registration fees. We will let you know how this will work as soon as we receive the information from Congress. We also encourage anyone whose paper was accepted for the CAWLS 2020 Conference to add on their CV (perhaps with a note saying that the paper could not be formally presented because of the conference cancellation due to the Covid-19 crisis).

We are also taking action to offer alternatives for our members to present their work this year. In that spirit, we will be actively pursuing partnerships with other groups and organizations who are planning work and labour studies events over the coming months, whether in-person or virtual, and offer them to co-sponsor their activities and make it accessible to CAWLS members. We have already engaged with a group to co-host an event directed to graduate students and early career scholars in Toronto this fall. We will keep you updated as soon as decisions are made. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you are planning an event that could be co-sponsored by CAWLS.

Finally, CAWLS 2020 Annual General Meeting will still take place during the time our annual conference was scheduled.It will be hosted virtually, likely via the Zoom platform. We will have an important agenda to go through, and we want to reiterate the importance of members participation in this crucial meeting. We will send you all the details about our AGM shortly.

These are stressful times for everyone, but we need solidarity more than ever. Beyond the impact on academic life, the pandemic hits even harder the most vulnerable in our societies. Whether they are frontline workers in healthcare and retail, or laid-off employees in the transport and manufacturing industries, they will need our full support but mostly the capacity to leverage political power to minimize the impact of the crisis on equity and social justice. In this context, work and labour studies are more essential than ever, and you can count on CAWLS to keep supporting them.

Pease feel free to reach out to us with any questions. We will continue to inform you on a regular basis about the upcoming developments.

In solidarity,

The CAWLS Executive
[email protected]

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