The Sidney Hillman Foundation honored several pieces of exceptional labor reporting as part of its 74th annual journalism prize ceremony that it held on May 7th.

The foundation, which was created by Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America Sidney Hillman, has honored journalists pursuing investigative reporting and deep storytelling in service of the common good since 1950. The prizes recognize news value, courage and impact of the coverage.

Bruce Raynor, the president of the foundation and former president of Workers United, tied the decimation of local newspapers and the decline of the number of union members in the United States to a common thread: the concentration of wealth.

“Google and Facebook dominate advertising, which doesn’t allow the rest of the media to have the financial wherewithal to keep investigative journalists on staff to follow a free press. And the labor movement is under attack from the same forces,” Raynor said.

Hillman, served as the president of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (now Workers United) from 1914 to 1946, and was a pioneer of trade unionism as it is now known. As part of the annual ceremony, the foundation gives out the SEIU-dedicated award for reporting on racial and economic justice, which went to Aurora Almendral for her series called “Merchants of Care” for Type Investigations and Quartz.

The foundation also gave an award for book journalism to Samuel Freedman, an award for broadcast journalism to Candice Nguyen, an award for magazine journalism to Josh Eidelson, an award for newspaper journalist to Hanna Beckler and an award for opinion journalism to Michael Hiltzik.

Almendral’s series documented how the Covid-driven staffing crisis in hospitals forced many to bolster their workforces with hiring from countries such as the Philippines, India, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Jamaica.

She revealed how an international bidding war for healthcare workers, led to the rampant exploitation of migrant nurses and left poorer health systems around the world scrambling to cope.

In response to her reporting, the founder of a shady job placement agency in India was arrested, a group of Florida nurses filed a class-action lawsuit against a hospital spotlighted in the story and a U.K. government body listed the exploitation of migrant care workers as its “number one priority.”

In her acceptance speech, Almendral said that the nurses were “up against Real threats and institutional indifference. What they were facing were violations of existing laws against human trafficking and part of what makes it run rampant is that no U.S. agency enforces it took incredible bravery for them to get there and it’s a warning that should be heard across the labor market.”

As part of the ceremony, the foundation honored the nascent union campaign that Starbucks workers and Workers United have been waging since 2022. Edgar Romney, Secretary-Treasurer of Workers United, took the stage with a group of Starbucks baristas who have been fighting for union recognition and a contract.

“Because of the resolve of these young workers all across this country, we have been able to get Starbucks to recognize the errors of their ways,” Romney said, referring to the call that the union received in late April in which Starbucks agreed to sit down with workers representing its 400 unionized stores and start coming to an agreement on a contract.

Edgar Romney, right


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Join Our Newsletter Today