Faculty and Staff

The Labor Studies program is administratively housed within the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) with active collaboration from the UCLA Center for Labor Research & Education (the Labor Center). Classes are taught in large part by Project Directors at the UCLA Labor Center, as well as additional in-house lecturers, visiting faculty, and affiliated faculty in other departments.  Administrative support is provided by the Student Affairs Officer (SAO) and Student Programming Coordinator.


Abel Valenzuela

Institute for Research on Labor and Employment Director

Professor of Chicano Studies and Urban Planning

(310) 267-4738



Abel Valenzuela Jr. is Professor of Urban Planning and Chicana/o Studies and Director of UCLA’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment.  Professor Valenzuela is one of the leading national experts on day labor and has published numerous articles and technical reports on the subject. His research interests include precarious labor markets, worker centers, immigrant workers, and Los Angeles.  His academic base is urban sociology, planning, and labor studies.  In addition to the topic of day labor, he has published numerous articles on immigrant settlement, labor market outcomes, urban poverty and inequality, including co-editing (with Lawrence Bobo, Melvin Oliver, and Jim Johnson) Prismatic Metropolis: Inequality in Los Angeles published by the Russell Sage Foundation in 2000, Immigration and Crime: Race, Ethnicity, and Violence (with Ramiro Martinez Jr.). He has also published in American Behavioral Scientist, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Annual Review of Sociology, New England Journal of Public Policy, Working USA: a Journal of Labor and Society, International Journal of Comparative Sociology, and Regional Studies.  Dr. Valenzuela earned his B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley and his M.C.P. and Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was born and raised in Los Angeles and currently lives in Venice Beach with his wife and three sons.

Tobias Higbie

Labor Studies Faculty Chair

Professor of History



Frank Tobias (Toby) Higbie is a Professor in the UCLA History Department and the faculty chair of the Labor and Workplace Studies program. He teaches undergraduate courses on labor and social movement history, immigration history, public history, and related topics. Higbie’s research explores the culture of industrial life in North America, the role of education in social movements, and the intersection of migration, class, and community. His forthcoming book, “Workers, Intellectuals, and the Politics of Knowledge in Modern America,” explores the social world of self-educated working people, and relationships between university-trained scholars and working-class intellectuals. His first book, “Indispensable Outcasts: Hobo Workers and Community in the American Midwest,” chronicled the lives of migrant workers (known as “hoboes”), the ties between midwestern communities and seasonal workers, and the culture of radical unionism at the turn of the 20th century. Before coming to UCLA in 2007, Higbie worked as a labor educator, a public historian, and (briefly) as a union organizer. He holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of Illinois.

Kent Wong

Labor Center Director

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Kent Wong is the director of the UCLA Labor Center, where he teaches courses in labor studies and Asian American studies. He previously served as staff attorney for the Service Employees International Union. He was the founding president of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, the founding president of the United Association for Labor Education, and currently is vice president of the California Federation of Teachers.

Courses: Research on Immigration Rights, Labor, and Higher Education; Asian Americans and Law; Nonviolence and Social Movements

Victor Narro

Project Director

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A nationally known expert on immigrant rights and low-wage workers, Victor Narro has been involved with immigrant rights and labor issues for over 30 years. Currently Project Director for the UCLA Labor Center, Victor’s focus is to provide leadership programs for Los Angeles’ immigrant workers, policy and campaign planning for unions and worker centers, and internship opportunities for UCLA students. Victor is currently a Lecturer for the Labor and Workplace Studies Program at UCLA and Lecturer in Law at UCLA Law School, where he teaches a class entitled, Community Lawyering and Low Wage Worker Organizing. Victor was formerly the Co-Executive Director of Sweatshop Watch. Prior to that, he was the Workers’ Rights Project Director for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) where he was involved with organizing day laborers, domestic workers, garment workers, and gardeners. Before his tenure at CHIRLA, Victor worked in the Los Angeles Regional Office of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). Among his many board memberships, Victor is a proud member of the Executive Board of the National Lawyers Guild – LA Chapter.

Over the past 30 years, Victor has worked with the Los Angeles labor movement on major immigrant worker policy and organizing campaigns with janitors, hotel workers, laundry workers, sanitation workers, port truckers, and more recently, the CLEAN Carwash Campaign. Victor is co-author of Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers: Violations of Employment and Labor Laws in America’s Cities (2008), and Wage Theft and Workplace Violations in Los Angeles (2010). He is also co-editor of Working for Justice: The L.A. Model of Organizing and Advocacy (Cornell University Press, 2010). More recently, Victor has become a leading voice for self-care and spirituality in the work for social justice through his new book, Living Peace: Connecting Your Spirituality with Your Work for Justice (CreateSpace Publication, 2014) and its Spanish translation, Paz en Acción Conecta tu espiritualidad con tu trabajo por la justicia social (2015). Victor just published a children’s book about labor solidarity, Jimmy’s Carwash Adventure (Hard Ball Press 2016). Victor is a contributing editor for Law@theMargins, where he anchors a monthly blog space called #FaithJustice.

Victor is happily married to Laureen Lazarovici, a long time labor activist and journalist.

Courses: Spirituality, Mindfulness, Self-Care, and Social Justice Activism; Worker Center Movement: Next Wave Organizing for Justice for Immigrant Workers; Community Lawyering and Low-Wage Worker Organizing (UCLA Law School); and Public Solving in the Public Interest (UCLA Law School).

Gaspar Rivera-Salgado

Project Director

(310) 206-3910



Dr. Gaspar Rivera-Salgado received his doctorate in sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is currently Project Director at UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education where he teaches classes on Work, Labor and Social Justice in the US and immigration issues. He also directs the Institute for Transnational Social Change. He has extensive experience as an independent consultant on transnational migration, race and ethnic relations and diversity trainings for large organizations. Among his most recent publications include the volume (with J. Fox) Indigenous Mexican Migration in the United States (UCSD 2005); and the recently published volume (with E. Telles, and M. Sawyer) Just Neighbors?: Research on African American and Latino Relations in the United States (Russell Sage, 2011).

Courses: Introduction to Labor and Social Movements in Los Angeles, Farm workers Movements, and Immigration Debate through Film.

Raymond Rocco

Professor of Political Science

(310) 825-4331



Raymond Rocco focuses on the relationships between globalization, democracy, citizenship and marginalized communities, with an emphasis on Latin American communities in the U.S. His recent publications have developed a framework for addressing a specific configuration of themes at the intersection of political theory (citizenship, democracy, civil society), cultural studies (identity, difference, border theory), post-colonial thought (diaspora, hybridity, alterity), and theories of globalization (restructuring, transnationalism, migration). These themes are reflected in undergraduate courses on Latino politics and community development, contemporary theories of empowerment, multicultural citizenship in democratic societies, and in graduate courses that have focused on postmodernist political thought, citizenship in a transnational context, and civil society and the public sphere. His most recent book is Transforming Citizenship: Democracy, Membership, and Belonging in Latino Communities (MSU Press, 2014), part of the Michigan State University Press “Latinos in the United States” series.

Janna Shadduck-Hernandez

Project Director

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Janna Shadduck-Hernández’s interests lie in the intersections between labor, immigration, student and community activism, and the arts. Presently she is a project director at the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education. She is also a lecturer teaching in UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures, César E. Chávez Chicano/a Studies Department, and the Labor and Workplace Studies Minor. She teaches Arts in Community; Labor, Social Justice, and the Arts; Immigration and the Visual Arts; Taking Action: Art and Community Change; Field Research Methods in Labor and Workplace Studies; Immigration, Labor, and Higher Education; Social Movements and Labor in Los Angeles; along with other special topics courses. For the UCLA Labor and Workplace Studies Minor course, Immigrant Rights, Labor and Higher Education, she co-edited the first student-authored publication about the experiences of undocumented students in higher education, Underground Undergrads: UCLA Undocumented Students Speak Out (2008). Janna received her doctorate from the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s School of Education within the Center of International Education in 2005. Her dissertation, Here I am Now! Community Service-Learning with Immigrant and Refugee Undergraduate Students and Youth: The Use of Critical Pedagogy, Situated Learning and Funds of Knowledge, examines the experiences of immigrant and refugee undergraduate students involved in a community service-learning program that incorporated critical and culturally relevant curriculum, peer-learning approaches, and creative and artistic exploration as ways to develop alternative educational models across similar ethnocultural communities. She has published various articles on the subject including articles in Labor Studies and Ethnography and Education. Janna has also been the codirector for the UCLA Global Learning Institute Summer Session in Guanajuato, Mexico (2006, 2007, 2008) through the UCLA International Institute-Global Studies (IDP). In partnership with the Universidad de Guanajuato, she teaches a qualitative research seminar titled Globalization in Context: Research Seminar GS110A and coordinates all programmatic aspects of this five-week summer session with 20-25 UCLA students in Mexico.

Courses: Working Families and Educational Inequalities in Urban Schools ; Labor Summer Research Internship Program; Social Movements and Labor in Los Angeles; Comprehensive Planning Project; Community of Corporate Internships in Labor and Workplace Studies.

Lluliana Alonso




LLuliana Alonso earned a Ph.D. in Education with a focus on Race & Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research explores the nexus between juvenile delinquency discourses and educational policy & practice in mid-twentieth century Los Angeles. Specifically, Dr. Alonso’s dissertation explored the educational histories of Mexican descent students in South Central Los Angeles between 1930-1949.  Her findings indicate Mexican students were discursively framed as delinquent and unintelligent, legitimizing the development of what she terms, structures of deficiency, which manifested themselves in the curriculum and pedagogy. She is currently working on multiple manuscripts that highlight historical examples of the resilience and resistance of Mexican youth during the first half of the twentieth century.

Dr. Alonso earned her B.A. in Political Science with a concentration in Comparative Politics and a M.A. in Education from UCLA. She is currently a Visiting Scholar for the Center for Critical Race Studies in Education at UCLA.

Virginia Espino




Virginia is a native daughter of California, born and raised in northeastern Los Angeles. She is an oral and public historian whose research focuses on health activism, motherhood and the varied uses of public space. She earned her PhD from Arizona State University writing about population control politics and reproductive injustice during the 1970s.

As the Series Leader for Latina and Latino History at UCLA’s Center for Oral History Research she developed oral history projects around civil rights struggles that document the role of the California Latina/o community in creating social change and make up an invaluable archival collection accessible to scholars and the public at large. Her research has been published in the Chicano Studies Journal, Aztlán. Her investigation of the history of coercive sterilization at the Los Angeles-USC Medical Center provided the impetus for the documentary film, No Más Bebés/No More Babies, for which she is a Producer and Lead Historian.

Loretta Gaffney




Loretta Gaffney studies the politics of reading, education, and social movements in the contemporary U.S. She will be teaching “Stories of Struggle: Work, Class, and Narrative in Contemporary America” in Spring 2019. This course investigates how working-class Americans from diverse backgrounds have narrated their struggles with poverty, education, work, parenthood, bodily suffering, and war and asks what readers can learn from these struggles as students, writers, and activists. While some historical narratives will be read, the course’s emphasis is 21st century narratives.

A practitioner and a scholar, Gaffney works as a school librarian and has taught graduate courses in the UCLA Department of Information Studies. Her research explains why young readers and books marketed to young adults (for instance, Harry Potter or The Hunger Games) became flashpoints in American cultural politics. “Growing up in a working-class family” Gaffney says, “I learned the importance of telling our own stories about our experiences with work and class.” Later, as a union activist, she drew from her experience and her reading to help her fellow teaching assistants tell their stories of struggle.

Whether you love to read, are curious about literature, or want to hone your storytelling skills, this class will help you become comfortable talk about working class narratives and encourage you to tell your own stories.

Gaffney holds a Ph.D. in Library and Information Science and a M.A. in Literature from the University of Illinois.

Trevor Griffey




Trevor Griffey, PhD, is the co-founder of the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project (http://www.civilrights.washington.edu) and co-editor of Black Power at Work: Community Control, Affirmative Action, and the Construction Industry (Cornell U Press, 2010).

Tia Koonse

Legal and Policy Research Manager

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Tia Koonse is the Legal and Policy Research Manager at the UCLA Labor Center, where she provides legal research on low-wage industries and program support for ReWork: The Worker Justice Institute and the Black Worker Center. She holds a law and a master’s degree (’11) in urban planning from UCLA’s Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy, with concentrations in Critical Race Studies and Community Development and Housing. She was co-Editor-in-Chief of the Los Angeles Public Interest Law Journal and her student note, “There Is No There, There: How Anti-Discrimination Successes for Trans Litigants Under the Categories of Sex and Disability Can Further the Intersex Rights Movement,” won the 2008 Dukeminier Awards Student Writing Competition for best note on issues relating to sexual orientation and gender identity in the law.


Rev. Lawson has been an influential leader and teacher of nonviolence for more than a half-century. He helped to launch the Nashville sit-in campaign in 1960, which successfully desegregated the Woolworth’s lunch counter, and inspired a new generation of civil rights leaders throughout the South. He was also a leader of the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike in 1968, which led to the successful organizing of sanitation workers. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated while supporting the Memphis sanitation workers. Since then, Rev. Lawson has traveled throughout the country and the world to lead workshops and seminars developing a new generation of leaders trained in the philosophy of non-violence and the tactics of civil disobedience. In Los Angeles, Rev. Lawson has worked closely with the leaders of the Justice for Janitors campaign, hotel and restaurant workers, and with student activists to develop nonviolent strategies and tactics, which successfully organized low-wage workers of Los Angeles and undocumented students across the country. Influenced by the work of Mahatma Gandhi, central to the rise of the Civil Rights Movement, and key to emergence of Los Angeles as the resurgent center of the contemporary labor movement, Rev. Lawson is one of the most impactful social justice leaders of the twentieth-century.

Courses: Nonviolence and Social Movements

Chris Newman




Chris Newman is the Legal Director & General Counsel for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) based in its Los Angeles office.   He has worked with day laborers since 2002, and was hired as NDLON’s first attorney in 2004.  Since then, he has helped develop and coordinate NDLON’s work to defend and advance day laborers’ civil, workplace, and human rights. He was counsel on a coalition lawsuit challenging Arizona’s SB 1070 in federal court.

Before working at NDLON, he was the founding coordinator of the Wage Clinic and Legal Program at El Centro Humanitario para los Trabajadores, a day laborer work center in Denver, CO.    He is the recipient of an Academy of Educational Development  New Voices Fellowship.   He is currently a Transatlantic Forum on Migration and Integration fellow at the German Marshall Fund.   He earned his J.D. with honors from the University of Denver College of Law.

Ignacia Rodriguez




Maria Ignacia Rodriguez Kmec conducts legal research as well as legislative and administrative advocacy focusing on immigration executive actions and congressional action on immigration. She also engages in litigation, policy analysis, education, and advocacy to support the integration of low-income immigrant youth and children through access to education. Her experience as an activist in the immigrants’ rights movement and as an undocumented student from Chile has led to her devotion to improving the lives of low-income immigrants. While at UCLA School of Law, she worked with the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN), the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), and Public Counsel. She holds an A.A. from Santa Monica College, a B.A. from UCLA, and a J.D. from the UCLA School of Law.

Saba Waheed


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Saba Waheed is Research Director at the UCLA Labor Center. She has fifteen years of research experience developing projects with strong community participation. With her team at the UCLA Labor Center, she coordinated the first ever study of domestic work employers, launched a study of young people in the service economy, and conducted research on the taxi industry. She has also conducted research in other industries such as garment, nail salon, construction and restaurant industries.

Previously she was Research Director at DataCenter, where she worked with community organizations around the country and conducted research on various issues such as housing, transportation, education, and non-profit sustainability. She also helped develop the framework of “research justice,” which aims to address the structural inequities in research.

In addition to her research work, Saba is an award-winning radio producer and writer. She co-produces the radio show Re:Work, a storytelling show about work and Flip the Script on KPFK. She co-wrote and co-produced an animated film, I am a #youngworker. She also writes fiction. Saba strongly believes that research and media are powerful tools for community storytelling. She received an MA in Anthropology from Columbia University.


Gloria Chan

Student Affairs Officer

9244 Bunche Hall

(310) 206-0812



Gloria describes herself as a citizen of the world. Originally from Colombia, she moved to Los Angeles where she developed an interest in learning about the world. This passion led her to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in International Development Studies at UCLA. During her studies, she received the UCLA Undergraduate Research Scholars Scholarship due to her research on Chinese Immigrant Labor in the construction of Panama’s railroad and canal.

Looking for international experience, Gloria joined UCLA’s Education Abroad Program in Beijing, China. She also pursued a MBA focused on Strategic Management from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. This international experience has given her a holistic perspective on labor and workplace around the world. Her work experience in both the business (Datavideo Technologies and Google) and non-profit (Erasmus Student Network) fields has allowed her to gain a deep understanding of the differences and similarities of both.

As the Student Affairs Officer for the Labor Studies Major and Minor, she is enthusiastic to share her experience with students and guide them in achieving their goals. She believes in a holistic approach to student advising; one that encompasses academic, career, and personal counseling for students.

Elizbeth Espinoza

Student Programming Manager/Academic Personnel Coordinator

Ueberroth Building 1103

(310) 206-4336