Sefton-Williams Memorial Lectures


Hosted by Woodsworth College and the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources, this annual lecture is now named in honour of Mr. Larry Sefton (pictured left) and Mr. Lynn Williams (pictured right). The Sefton-Williams Memorial Lecture series presents topics of interest to scholars and practitioners of labour-management relations. The lecture has recently been endowed by USW International Executive Board and its members. The inaugural Sefton-Williams Memorial Lecture took place on 19 March 2015.

Larry Sefton’s (1917-1973) career in the labour movement began on the picket line in Kirkland Lake in the gold miners’ strike during World War II. He subsequently led the 1946 Stelco strike and later held office in the United Steelworkers of America, eventually becoming the Director of District 6. He earned the respect and admiration of those who worked with him.

Lynn Williams (1924-2014) began his career initially organizing campaigns for the Canadian Congress of Labour. He was named to the USW staff in 1956, was a delegate to the founding convention of the NDP and in 1973 was elected as the USW District 6 Director. In 1977, he was elected as the USW International Secretary and went on to become the first Canadian to serve as the President of USW International. He was a leader in promoting co-operation and solidarity in the international labour movement. After retirement he served as President of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees.

This unique annual lecture series began in 1983. It is organized and hosted by Woodsworth College and the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources at the University of Toronto, and funded by the generosity of the Valleydene Corporation and the United Steelworkers of America (Toronto Council and District 6). Speakers have included some of North America's most prominent academics and labour relations practitioners.

Thanks to all the speakers who have granted permission for us to reproduce their lectures.

For information on the next Sefton Lecture please consult the Events Calendar on the CIRHR home page.

Sefton-Williams Award for Contributions to Labour Relations
The award honours those who have made a significant contribution to the field of labour relations and human rights.  Labour relations practitioner as well as academics have received this award. List of Sefton-Williams Award recipients

Sefton Memorial Lectures:

1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998
1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014

Sefton-Williams Memorial Lectures:

2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020

6th (2020) - Sefton-Williams Memorial Lecture

Organizing With ‘Heart’: New Ways of Building Worker Movements (video)

Speaker: Kris Rondeau, Director of AFSCME New England Organizing Project

5th (2019) - Sefton-Williams Memorial Lecture

What Makes Labour Free? (And Why This Question Matters) (slides in PDF, 7.2mb)

Speaker: Judy Fudge, Professor, School of Labour Studies, McMaster University

Related articles:

Fudge, J. (2019, May 24). What makes labour free? (and why this question matters). Retrived from

Fudge, J. (2018). Modern slavery, unfree labour and the labour market: The social dynamics of legal characterization. Social & Legal Studies, 27(4), 414-434.

Fudge, J. (2018). Illegal working, migrants and labour exploitation in the UK. Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 38(3), 557-584.

Fudge, J. (2018). Slavery and unfree labour: The politics of naming, framing and blaming. Labour/Le Travail, 82, 227-244.

Fudge, J. (2018). Why labour lawyers should care about the Modern Slavery Act 2015. King's Law Journal, 29(3), 377-406.

Fudge, J. (2016). Modern slavery and migrant domestic workers: the politics of legal characterization: regulation, regulators, and the crisis of law and government policy brief. The Foundation for Law, Justice and Society, in association with the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies and Wolfson College, University of Oxford. Retrived from

4th (2018) - Sefton-Williams Memorial Lecture

Dependence & Precarity in the "Sharing Economy" (slides in PDF, 2.9mb)

Speaker: Juliet Schor, Professor of Sociology, Boston College

3rd (2017) - Sefton-Williams Memorial Lecture

Trade Unions and Populist Politics: What The Trump Presidency Truly Means for Labour 

Speaker: Rich Yeselson, Labour Journalist

Articles by Rich Yeselson:


2nd (2016) - Sefton-Williams Memorial Lecture

Fissured Workplace: Is There Still a Role for Labour Policy in the New World of Work?  (slides in PDF, 3.2mb)

Speaker: David Weil, United States Department of Labor

Book: Weil. D. (2014). The fissured workplace: Why work became so bad for so many and what can be done to improve it. Cambridge, Massachusetts : Harvard University Press. 410 p. (UofT access only)

e-book (UofT access only)

List of publications


1st (2015) - Inaugural Sefton-Williams Memorial Lecture

Inequality and its Discontents: a Canadian Perspective


Armine Yalnizyan, Senior Economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Presentation: Inequality and its Discontents: a Canadian Perspective (slides in PDF, 1.8mb)

Miles Corak, Professor of Economics, University of Ottawa
Presentation: 'Inequality is the root of social evil,’ or maybe not: Two stories about inequality and public policy (slides in PDF, 1.3mb)


32nd (2014)

Speaker: Jennifer Wells

Sweated Trades: Offshoring, Labour Standards, and the Corporate Response to Public Criticisms of Garment Factory Working Conditions (PDF document, 71kb)

31st (2013)

Speakers: Nelson Lichtenstein, Natalie Des Rosiers, Tony Burke

Labour's Responses to Globalization: Alternative Forms of Organization

Tony Burke, Why Unite and the USW created Workers Uniting – the Global Union (PDF document)

Nelson Lichtenstein, Supply chain tourist, or how globalization has transformed the labor question (PDF document)

Natalie Des Rosiers

30th (2012)

Speaker: John Cartwright

The Three-Part Crisis of Globalization (PDF document, 98 kb)

29th (2011)

Speaker: Leah Vosko

Beyond Managing the Margins: Gender, Citizenship and Precarious Employment (text of speech unavailable)
Based on author's book: The book is also available to the UofT community online at

28th (2010)

Speaker: Don Drummond

 The Changing Canadian Workplace (PDF document, 162 kb)

27th (2009) 

Speaker: Hugh Mackenzie

Roots of the Crisis: How Growing Inequality Sowed the Seeds for an Economic Meltdown (PDF document, 97 kb).

Accompanying PowerPoint presentation (PDF document, 264 kb).

26th (2008)

Speakers: Jim Stanford and Charlotte Yates

New Union Strategies for Tough Times: The CAW-Magna Deal, and other Responses.

Part 1: Introductions; Sefton Award Winner speech; Morley Gunderson Award Winner speech; Opening statements by Jim Stanford and Charlotte Yates.

Part 2: Debate by Charlotte Yates and Jim Stanford; Question and Answer session. Duration: 62 minutes.

25th (2007)

Speaker: Stephen Lewis

AIDS as Metaphor: The Class Struggle in the Workplace (DVD available for loan in the CIRHR Library)

24th (2006)

Speaker: Kate Bronfenbrenner

Global Unions, Global Companies, and Cross Border Campaigns: The Vision, Opportunities, and Challenges Raised by the Global Union Conference 2006 (PDF document, 50kb)

23rd (2005)

Speaker: Harry Arthurs

The Rights Stuff: Labour and the Constitution: If Labour were Charged with Possessing Constitutional Rights, Would There be Enough Evidence to Convict It? (PDF document, 114kb)

22nd (2004)

Speaker: Gordon Betcherman

Labour Reform in China: How 700 Million Workers are Coping with Global Capitalism (PDF document, 145kb)

21st (2003)

Speaker: Tim Armstrong

Contemporary Collective Bargaining: How Well is it Working? (PDF document, 346kb)

20th (2002)

Speaker: Judy Darcy

Hostile Takeover: The Threat of Privatization (PDF document, 48kb)

19th (2001)

Speaker: Peter Warrian

Can't Get There From Here: Old/New Unions in a New/Old Economy (PDF document, 39kb)

18th (2000)

Speaker: Richard Freeman

Presentation Not Available

17th (1999)

Speaker: Julie White

Presentation Not Available

16th (1998)

Speaker: Kevin Burkett

The Politicization of the Ontario Labour Relations Framework in the Decade of the 1990s (PDF document, 1517kb)

15th (1997)

Speaker: Alexander (Sandy) Adam

Crisis and Renewal: Algoma Steel Inc. - A Case Study in Adaptation (PDF document, 371kb)

14th (1996)

Speaker: Graham S. Lowe

UTlibraries link to article:

13th (1995)

Speaker: Leo Gerard

Presentation Not Available

12th (1994)

Speaker: L. Victor Pathe

Labour-Management Relations: Reflections on the Past, Challenges of the Future (PDF document, 1056kb)

11th (1993)

Speaker: Bob Rae

Presentation Not Available

10th (1992)

Speaker: Laurel Sefton MacDowell

Law and Labour in Ontario: The Career of J.L. Cohen (PDF document, 1490kb)

9th (1991)

Speaker: George W. Adams

Towards a New Vitality: Reflections on Twenty Years of Collective Bargaining Information(presentation not available)

8th (1990)

Speaker: Seymour Martin Lipset

Labor and Socialism in Canada and the United States (PDF document, 1468kb)

7th (1989)

Speaker: Paul Weiler

The Representation Gap in the North American Workplace (PDF document, 1377kb)

6th (1988)

Speaker: Rosalie Abella

Courts, Boards and Labour: Reconciling Competing Cultures (PDF document, 504kb)

5th (1987)

Speaker: Melvyn Dubofsky

The State and Labour in Modern America (PDF document, 1138kb)

4th (1986)

Speaker: Jeffrey Sack & John Murray

Presentation Not Available

3rd (1985)

Speaker: John T. Dunlop

Conflict or Co-operation: Which Way is Industrial Relations Heading? (PDF document, 567kb)

2nd (1984)

Speaker: Robert White

The Trade Union Movement in Today's Changing Society (PDF document, 837kb)

1st (1983)

Speaker: Lynn Williams

The Labour Movement and the University (PDF document, 1021kb)