Mary G. Harris Jones “Mother Jones”

The National Staff Organization created the Mother Jones award to recognize the efforts of individual members that have gone above and beyond in their efforts to advance unionism and the labor movement in their communities. NSO believes that this recognition reinforces the preamble of its constitution, which states; “to promote public education and advance collective bargaining and unionism.”

Mary G. Harris Jones, (c. 1830-1930) known as Mother Jones was a pioneer and prominent union organizer in the early 1900’s. She was also a teacher and dress maker that organized members of the United Mine Workers to fight for better working conditions. Her persuasive and powerful speeches inspired the masses to join in on strikes and protest to protect the workers, their families and especially the children.

This well-spoken woman was also instrumental with empowering the wives and daughters to have an active voice in the movement carrying mops and brooms into battle.  She led membership drives, marches, and strikes that sometimes landed her in jail but that did not stop her from her organizing activities.

She was the co-founder of the Industrial Workers of the World and a true union activist whose undying passion drove her to fight for the common people who thought their voices did not matter.

    “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living”

                                                                          Mother Jones         

This award was established at the 2016 Representative Assembly as New Business Item #16-06. NSO has a historical relationship with Mother Jones, continues to be a contributor to the Mother Jones Museum, and it was at a NSO RA that the DVD “Mother Jones: America’s Most Dangerous Woman” was first shown.

The intent of the Mother Jones Award for Outstanding Union Activism is to recognize activism in the Labor Movement carried out by rank-and-file NSO members that extends beyond their affiliate work. This recognition of activism will also serve to promote and inspire others to become more involved in the labor movement. Award recipients will be featured on websites, newsletters, and press releases to highlight our own NSO members.

The Mother Jones Award for Outstanding Union Activism is open for all NSO members. Therefore, professional and associate staff members are eligible to participate on an equal standing.

We ask that affiliate presidents inform their membership of the Mother Jones Award for Outstanding Union Activism, distribute this document, as well as the nomination form to your membership. Each affiliate will then implement their own selection process to present an individual for national consideration.

Each affiliate nomination will be submitted to the NSO Executive Committee who will then be responsible for the selection of the national award winner. The identified recipient will receive a plaque commemorating their dedication to unionism and the labor movement.

Nominations are due no later than March 5th of each year and should be submitted to Rose Tapp at

“Goodbye boys, I’m under arrest. I may have to go to jail. I may not see you for a long time. Keep up the fight! Don’t surrender!” 

– Mother Jones

Past Award Recipients:

2017-Dave Rathke-Illinois EASO

2019-Elizabeth Hrenda- Pennsylvania EA-SO

Nomination Form