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Ed Flores Receives UC Merced 2021-2022 Senate Award for Distinguished Scholarly Public Service

May 16, 2022


Between 2017 and 2020, Ed (working with faculty and community collaborators) launched the Civic Capacity Research Initiative (CCRI) which resulted in a number of major projects and successes:

1) the design and implementation of nearly 1000 needs assessment surveys in low-income neighborhoods in Sacramento, Merced, and Fresno;

2) Participation in the People Power Coalition with community-based organizations (CBOs) in Merced;

3) The Central Valley Summit of community and labor organizations held in Fresno in October of 2019 (attended by over 150 people and 65 local CBO representatives and state lawmakers);

4) directing projects for the California Census to make sure that no populations go uncounted in the 2020 census in the Central Valley (including multi-family housing units and hard to reach populations), and

5) a series of research briefs on Central Valley social and working conditions for low-income and immigrant workers.

The CCRI research briefs were used by state the California State Legislature to pass special acts benefitting Central Valley workers such as AB84/SB95 signed in the spring of 2021 that allows sick leave for employees affected by covid on farms, warehouses, and food processing plants.

In the spring of 2020, Dr. Flores led efforts with collaborators to transition CCRI into the UC Merced Community and Labor Center (CLC). The CLC was born at the beginning of the covid pandemic. As the UCM community transitioned to online instruction and went home to protect family members and friends, Flores saw the urgent need to protect essential workers in the Central Valley. He used the CLC to join the Safety Net for All Campaign to push the state government to allow leave and sick policy for agricultural, meatpacking, and warehouse workers in the Central Valley. Dr. Flores also used CLC to gain protections for undocumented workers. At the same time, CLC published another series of policy briefs and research reports in 2020 and 2021 about the need for protections of essential workers and vulnerable populations in the Central Valley under covid conditions (see These reports were also used by state lawmakers and used in the hearings of the Latino Caucus. This resulted in legislation protecting vulnerable workers in the Central Valley such as AB 1876 (extending California earned income tax credit to undocumented households), SB 1383 (closing paid leave gaps to workers in firms with less than 50 workers) in September of 2020, and the California COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard AB84/SB95 in the spring of 2021, and AB 2847 for undocumented worker wage replacement/unemployment benefits introduced in the state assembly in February of 2022.

Dr. Flores also played a primary role as a volunteer in launching the California Farm Worker health survey, the most important survey in the past 20 years on the health of agricultural workers (with interviews of over 1,000 disadvantaged workers). Most recently, Prof. Flores has been working with community partners in Kern County, such as the Center for Race, Poverty and the Environment (CRPE). The Kern county volunteer work involves preparing the region for a Green and Just Transition away from the area’s reliance on the Fossil Fuel industry and into more environmentally friendly jobs and operations.

Ed’s work highlights the impact that sociology can have on our local communities and region.  

Join us in congratulating Professor Flores for receiving the UC Merced 2021-2022 Senate Award for Distinguished Scholarly Public Service and in appreciation for his commitment to essential workers and vulnerable populations in the Central Valley.