May 12, 2020

Upton Sinclair Memorial Lecture Examines Flagging Worker Protection in California

Release No. SPR-20-0512-01

Susan Marchese, Managing Director,
Communications & Marketing, AIHA
(202) 256-8986

FALLS CHURCH, VA. (May 12, 2020)—The American Industrial Hygiene Association®(AIHA) announces that the 2020 Upton Sinclair Memorial Lecture will be presented by Susie Neilson, an investigative journalist from the San Francisco Bay Area. The virtual lecture will take place on Monday, June 1, at 3:15–4:15 E.T. Neilson’s lecture, titled “Unseen: Working in the Shadow of the Golden State,” focuses on the strain that California’s growing population is putting on infrastructure and public services.

California has a progressive tax system and environmental policy, the second-highest minimum wage in the nation, and politicians who openly celebrate diversity and immigration. Yet public infrastructure and services are under growing stress. Protections for workers are weakening, worker safety organizations are chronically understaffed, and wage theft is rampant. Neilson’s lecture will look at who has been left behind and what public officials and advocates are doing about it in a state where inequality is prevalent.

“It’s an honor to have the opportunity to highlight the many issues facing my state’s workers, particularly during the COVID-19 crisis,” Neilson said. “As Californian society shifts dramatically to accommodate a new reality, so too does its labor landscape—and prior concerns grow even more urgent and worthy of our attention.”

The lecture will begin at 3:15 p.m. (ET) on Monday, June 1, at the Virtual AIHce EXP. Members of the media who are interested in obtaining press passes to this event should contact Ina Xhani, AIHA’s communication specialist.

About the Upton Sinclair Memorial Lecture

The Upton Sinclair Memorial Lecture for an Outstanding Occupational Safety and Health News Story of the Year was instituted in 2000 by AIHA’s Social Concerns Committee. Highlighting the importance of media in occupational safety and health, the lecture shows AIHA members what is beyond their plants and companies, involves the public in the cause of occupational safety and health, and recognizes good investigative reporting. The lecture is named in honor of the political activist Upton Sinclair, best known for his novel “The Jungle,” published in 1906, which revealed the horrors of meatpacking plants in Chicago and led to major health and safety changes in the industry.

About Susie Neilson

Susie Neilson, through her writing on science, environmental, and social justice issues, aims to promote accountability by public and private actors. Her stories have exposed workplace safety hazards at recycling facilities, private industry influence on regulatory rollbacks, and prompted a congressman's inquiry into a federal environmental contract. She is a 2019 graduate of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and has written for the New Yorker, the Atlantic, the Center for Investigative Reporting, and NPR, among other outlets.

About AIHA®

Founded in 1939, AIHA is a nonprofit organization serving professionals dedicated to the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, control, and confirmation of environmental stressors in or arising from the workplace that may result in injury, illness, or impairment, or affect the well-being of workers and members of the community. AIHA provides comprehensive education programs and other products and services that help its members maintain the highest professional standards.

More than half of AIHA’s nearly 8,500 members are Certified Industrial Hygienists, and many hold other professional designations. AIHA serves as a resource for those employed in the industrial, consulting, academic, and government sectors. For more information, please visit