Clara Mejía Orta, a Labor Studies graduate student at the UMass Labor Center, won the United Association for Labor Education’s New Generation Award at the 2019 UALE Conference earlier this month in Philadelphia, PA.
Initially selected as a finalist for the prize, UALE invited her to the conference to present her paper "How Latinx Labor Leaders Claim Spaces in The Movement: Social Justice Unionism, Immigrant Rights, and the United Latinos of the UFCW.” Based on the quality of her paper and presentation, the award committee selected Clara and honored her at the closing banquet of the conference.
According to submission guidelines, “The UALE seeks to encourage emerging labor scholars, teachers, students, researchers, and multimedia producers, by giving the New Generation Award at each annual conference. Labor Education and Labor Studies need a new cadre of 21st century innovators and leaders! This award is one way in which UALE seeks to support this development from within higher education, community-based organizations, and unions.”
Proud of her Mexican heritage, Clara immigrated from México with her family to East Los Angeles at age 17. Three years later, she started college at Georgetown University, where she earned a degree in American Studies with minors in Justice & Peace Studies and History. Before embarking on her graduate studies at UMass Amherst, she worked as a Cannabis Organizer for The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770 in Los Angeles, California.
“As a scholar and organizer, I want to help tell the story of labor organizations like UFCW and United Latinos, who go beyond the duties of traditional unions and make a commitment to fight for targeted communities,” said Clara.
Clara’s early success bodes well for her career as a labor scholar. We congratulate her on her efforts to tell the stories of Latinx labor leaders.