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10 Years of Reflections on LRAN

August 24, 2021

On June 8th 2011, we held our first LRAN conference at Georgetown University. 10 years later, LRAN members reflect on the impact the network has had on their careers and work in the labor movement.

My first LRAN was in 2012 when I was a graduate student at UW-Madison. I was immediately struck by the sense of camaraderie and solidarity amongst all the different groups: worker activists, academics, union staffers. It was an energetic community where fighting for economic justice shaped all my encounters. I met amazing scholars and friends who I have continued to work and connect with and who have helped me be a better labor activist and a better scholar. LRAN has become my second academic home and it is an honor to follow in the footsteps of great scholar activists like David Bensman and so many others who show up and do the work. Volunteering on the conference planning committee and serving on the advisory council is a privilege. I am proud of the work we do highlighting worker campaigns, providing workshops and trainings for workers and academics, supporting the work of new scholars in the field of labor studies, and providing a community to share ideas, wins, hard-fought losses, job opportunities, and strategies and tactics for democracy, freedom, and economic justice. I am grateful for LRAN for providing a much-needed network connecting workers, practitioners, and scholars. I am amazed that ten years have passed so quickly and that we still have so much work to do. Proud to do it with my LRAN community.

--Naomi R. Williams, Assistant Professor, Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations

I am so grateful for learning about the newly created Labor Research Action Network early on in my doctorate program.  At the time I was a former union organizer and then a Graduate employee union member whose research was focused on labor issues.  I had entered graduate school intending to bridge my academic work with my organizing background and was so pleased to connect with people doing the same.  I quickly got involved in the "New Scholars Committee" and found myself supported by numerous experienced scholars and researchers, as well as organizers, who all understood the value and strategic importance of our intersectional work together.  I have since been proud to serve on the Advisory Committee and multiple Conference Planning Committees.  Beyond the important work of LRAN itself, on a personal level, it has served as a space to build lifelong friendships locally and nationally, helped me keep up to date on many aspects of our movement, and even led me into my current position.  I am so excited to see how we continue to grow LRAN and the critical relationships and possibilities that emerge from it!

Jessica Cook-Qurayshi, PhD, Director, DePaul University Labor Education Center

I went to my first LRAN conference in 2016 and loved it. I have tried to attend every year since, and it's something I really look forward to. As a union researcher and campaigner, I like to have organizing strategy discussions and follow important academic work on labor issues. LRAN has provided a great network for this and a really unique space for these conversations. I have enjoyed the conferences as a nice mixture of union and community groups talking with labor scholars about the state of the labor movement, campaign strategies, and how we can organize more effectively (and happy hours!).  And it's been great working with folks on the LRAN Advisory Committee and Projects Committee. I'm hoping for many more years of LRAN!

Eric Dirnbach, Researcher, LIUNA

The LRAN conferences and happy hours have always been a welcome place to meet and hang out with other labor researchers. It’s a great community to share ideas, tools, and stories about campaigns.

Julie Serfass, Assistant Director | Research, Strategic Initiatives & Economic Security Department