Congratulations to Professor Ryan Lamare, the inaugural recipient of the Reuben G. Soderstrom International Labor Relations Professorship. His investiture will take place at the School on Friday, April 22, 2022, at 10:30 a.m. To RSVP for this event, visit https://forms.illinois.edu/sec/1393423456.
Professor Ryan Lamare is a popular faculty member, known for his courses in Workplace Dispute Resolution and Game Theory. His research interests focus on Workplace Dispute Resolution, Labor and Employment Arbitration, Unions and Politics, and Comparative Politics and Industrial Relations.
He has been recognized on the UIUC List of Teachers Rated as Excellent numerous times and received the LER Faculty Teaching Excellence Award twice. He also has time for service to the function, and has been the Secretary-Treasurer for the Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA), the main academic association in the Industrial Relations field. He recently became the Editor-in-Chief for LERA journal.
This professorship was created to honor the legacy of Reuben G. Soderstrom as a pioneering leader in the labor movement in the state of Illinois and throughout the nation and his essential role in the founding of the School of Labor and Employment Relations. He was a crusader for the people of Illinois and our nation, and was a strong believer in the importance of education. This professorship was created to inspire labor leaders to reach for the highest level of relief from human suffering and create political systems that empower individuals to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and to persevere though all odds.
Reuben G. Soderstrom is one of the most dynamic and legendary leaders in the American labor movement, presiding for 40 years—from 1930 to 1970—over 1.3 million members in the Illinois AFL-CIO. A successful state legislator, in 1930 the 42-year-old Soderstrom became president of the struggling Illinois State Federation of Labor just as the Great Depression blanketed the nation. He rebuilt the organization through the lean years of the 1930s, rallied behind the policies of the New Deal and then committed his members to a big domestic push to win World War II, including a No-Strike Guarantee during those years.
In 1930, the Illinois State Federation of Labor (ISFL) faced a crisis when its largest union, the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), broke apart and the Progressive Miners of America (PMA) withdrew from the UMWA and claimed to be the “legitimate” miners’ union. Leaderless and fractured, the remaining ISFL leaders turned to Soderstrom, a legislator who had recently made a name for himself among laborers for his successful passage of the Injunction Limitation Act. The Executive Committee named him interim President, hoping his political acumen could help save the organization from collapse.
Soderstrom guided organized labor through the largest crisis it had ever faced: sustained, pervasive unemployment. He saw his membership surge despite the Great Depression and the formation of the Congress of Industrial Organization (CIO), a rival organization to Reuben’s American Federation of Labor (AFL). His influence continued to expand in the post-war era, and when the Illinois State Federation was merged with its CIO counterpart in 1958, Reuben was chosen as the first President of the new Illinois AFL-CIO.
On September 12, 1970, Reuben was named President Emeritus of the Illinois AFL-CIO. He died three months later on December 15, 1970.
The School thanks Carl D. Soderstrom and the Soderstrom Family Charitable Trust for the generous gift to fund this professorship, and congratulates Professor Lamare for receiving this honor.