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CAWLS award winners for 2019 were announced at the organization’s Annual General meeting at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver on June 5, 2019.

The CAWLS Book Prize, honouring the best book in Canadian work and labour studies, was awarded to Dustin Gayler.

“After reviewing several exceptional books on work and labour studies, the awards committee arrived at the unanimous decision to award this year’s CAWLS Book Prize, honouring the best book in Canadian work and labour studies, to Dustin Galer’s ground-breaking book, Working Towards Equity: Disability Rights Activism and Employment in Late Twentieth Century Canada (University of Toronto Press 2018). In the words of the committee “In our view, Galer’s path-breaking book on the relationship between work, disability and civil rights organizing in twentieth-century Canada highlights the struggle of an important segment of workers that have often been made invisible by employers and workers’ movements alike.

In our view, the book represents the best in labour studies scholarship. Galer has uncovered an area of study that has hitherto been on the periphery for most labour studies scholars, skillfully bridging the struggle of disability activists to have their core human rights recognized while seeking greater recognition and compensation in the workplace. Galer’s research has uncovered a complex history, one that bridges multiple groups struggling over intersecting social, political, and economic issues. In mapping this complex history, Galer disentangles the various ideological and political divisions amongst disability activists, arguing that the common thread uniting these movements is the world of work. In that sense, the disability rights movement should be understood as a labour-oriented social movement.

For decades, as Galer demonstrates, workers with disabilities were treated by employers as second-class workers often paid less than other workers doing similar work, when they were not excluded from so-called productive employment altogether. Work itself becomes a complex phenomenon in Galer’s history as there was no universal path forward for disabled workers to achieve equity and equal status with able-bodied workers. Should disabled activists argue for hiring quotas or fight for parity? Galer does not pre-judge these activists but demonstrates that many of these victories were achieved on multiple fronts: through human rights cases, through workplace struggle and protest, and through the greater presence of disability activists in unions and other work organizations. The complexities of the union movement’s engagement with disability issues is also sensitively explored, as both a supportive site of disability activism and a barrier to disabled workers’ full inclusion at work, given the predominance in seniority in unions’ strategies for regulating workplaces.

At once a fascinating and compelling argument, Galer’s book represents pathbreaking new work that is destined to be required reading by labour studies students and researchers alike. We are honoured to award this year’s prize to Dustin Galer.”

The New Voices in Labour Studies Best Paper Prize, honouring the author of the best paper by a new scholar (graduate student, post-doctoral fellow, or faculty/researcher in the first five years of their appointment) presented at the CAWLS annual conference, was awarded to Edward Dunsworth of the University of Toronto for his paper entitled “Caribbean Guestworkers, Resistance, and Racialization”.

Filling a gap in the scholarly literature on Canada’s temporary foreign worker programs and migrant labour schemes, Dunsworth centres the voices of West Indian tobacco workers and their resistance to both employers and the state. Importantly, Dunsworth captures the centrality of race and racial identity to narratives of resistance within the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, advancing a theoretically sophisticated understanding of racialization as a contested process.

CAWLS Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Scholarship, recognizing outstanding scholarship completed by an undergraduate student on work and social change, was awarded to Curtis Morrison of Brock University for his paper entitled “The Unique Power of Labour-Community Coalitions”.

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