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.
Institute for Research on Labor and Employment Director
Professor of Chicano Studies, Labor Studies and Urban Planning
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.
Courses: LBR STDS 10, Introduction to Labor and Workplace Studies
Institute for Research on Labor and Employment Associate Director
Labor Studies Faculty Chair
Professor of History and Labor Studies
Frank Tobias (Toby) Higbie is a Professor of History and Labor Studies, and the Chair of the Labor Studies interdepartmental degree program at UCLA. He teaches classes on labor and social movement history, immigration 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 recent book, “Labor’s Mind: A History of Working Class Intellectual Life,” explores the social world of self-educated working people and relationships between university-trained scholars and working-class intellectuals during the early 20th century. 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 communities and seasonal workers, and the culture of radical unionism at the turn of the 20th century. Before coming to UCLA, 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.
Courses: LBR STDS 375, LBR STDS 101 Introduction to Social Movements and Labor in Los Angeles
Labor Center Project Director
Betty Hung is a longtime social justice advocate with a focus on law and organizing. For over 20 years, Betty has worked on campaigns and initiatives in the areas of workers rights, racial justice, immigrant rights, education equity, and gender justice. Betty has played an integral role in campaigns that have achieved victories including: winning $22 million dollars in additional annual income for Los Angeles taxi workers; enacting landmark state legislation allocating $240 million to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the K-to-University of California graduation pipeline; establishing protections for undocumented immigrant students in K-12 schools throughout California; defeating proposed legislation that would have required the equivalent of English-only business signs in a predominantly immigrant municipality; and passing state legislation to address racial profiling by law enforcement. Betty also served on the legal team that litigated the El Monte Thai and Latino garment worker case and the legal team supporting the leadership of Dream Team LA in the successful campaign to win Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). She serves on the boards of: Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), CLEAN Car Wash Worker Center, Economic Roundtable, and National Lawyers Guild-LA. Betty is a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School.
Courses: LBR STDS 188 Seminar 3 Law ,Organizing, & Role of Lawyers in Social Movements
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.
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: LBR STDS 101 Introduction to Labor and Social Movements in Los Angeles, LBR STDS 126 Farm workers Movements, and Immigration Debate through Film.
Gilda Haas is an organizer, educator, and economic development professional who has been helping grassroots organizations build economies from the ground up for thirty years.Haas has taught economic development at UCLA’s Department of Urban Planning for 25 years, where she also founded the Community Scholars Program, a joint initiative of UCLA’s Department of Urban Planning and the UCLA Labor Center that recognizes the important role that community and labor leaders play in shaping community development policy.
Courses: LBR STDS 188 Seminar 2 How to Create a Worker-Owned Cooperative Business
Iliana serves as the Director of Research and Entrepreneurship with Immigrants Rising, a San Francisco-based non-profit organization that empowers undocumented young people to achieve educational and career goals through personal, institutional and policy transformation. Iliana launched and leads the entrepreneurship programming, which encourages all immigrants, regardless of status, to create their own opportunities, earn a living, and thrive through entrepreneurship. Iliana also oversees the research and evaluation agenda of the organization.
Iliana G. Perez was born in Hidalgo, Mexico and immigrated alongside her mother, father and younger brother to the U.S. at the age of eight. Iliana grew up in the California Central Valley and navigated the educational system as an undocumented student for 18 years until she became a DACA recipient in 2013. Iliana holds a B.A. in Mathematics from Fresno State, a M.A. in Economics from Claremont Graduate University and recently completed a Ph.D. in Education Policy, Evaluation and Reform, also from Claremont Graduate University. Her research focuses on immigrant entrepreneurs, the occupational and educational attainment of immigrant students, the effects of deportation on the lives of young adults, and economics of immigration.
Courses: LBR STDS M166B Research on Immigrant Rights, Labor and Higher Education.
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: LBR STDS M173 Nonviolence and Social Movements
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.
LBR STDS 194B, LBR STDS 152 Labor and Social Justice in the Arts, LBR STDS M136
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: LBR STDS 166B Research on Immigration Rights, Labor, and Higher Education; Asian Americans and Law; LBR STDS M173 Nonviolence and Social Movements
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.
Courses: LBR STDS 153 Stories of Struggle: Work, Class, and Narrative of Contemporary America
Nina Monet Reynoso
Nina Monet Reynoso is a doctoral candidate in the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Sciences focusing on race/ethnicity in education. Her research interests include the militarization of education, critical theory and pedagogy, Black studies, and more. She has worked with the Labor Studies department for three years, and has taught with many of the department’s faculty members.
In addition to her graduate studies, Nina Monet facilitates project management with Million Dollar Hoods, a community driven research project that maps the cost of mass incarceration in Los Angeles. The use of open source data and mixed methods are closely aligned with her own research on mapping military academies across the country.
The themes of her coursework focus on histories of the Black radical tradition in the face of labor exploitation and an examination of global perspectives on labor movements. When not aiding her students in community grounded research, she can be found with her dog, Canelo, and a good book.
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.
Courses: LBR STDS 194A; LBR STDS 179A Neoliberalism, Social Justice, and Transformative Politics; LBR STDS 179B Doing Democracy : Social Movements, Grassroot Politics, and Community Organizing.
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.
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.
Courses: LBR STDS 174 Labor and Employment Law
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).
Courses: LBR STDS 187 Seminar 2 Labor and Public Higher Education: Campus Workers, Working Students, and the Public Good
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). LBR STDS M167, LBR STDS 177
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.
Courses: LBR STDS 140 Working it: Women, Work and Family, LBR STDS 182B Oral History and Collective Memory: Research Methods and Applications of 21st-Century Immigrant Narratives, LBR STDS 188 Seminar 1 La Domestica: Race, Class, and Gender in Domestic Work
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 the workplace around the world. In addition, her work experience in both the business (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. Besides providing academic advising to students, she manages the Labor Studies undergraduate programs and events, and the Labor Summer Research Program.
As the Academic Programs Manager and Academic Personnel Coordinator for the Labor Studies Interdepartmental program, Elizbeth Espinoza develops initiatives and programs to enhance the academic experience for our Labor Studies students, helps prepare them for the workforce, and fosters an environment where students feel supported and connected to each other and to our program of study. She also coordinates the hiring of our Labor Studies instructional team and works on policies, protocols and workflows for the Interdepartmental program.
With over 20 years of experience in program development, mentoring, career and academic counseling, and more recently in academic personnel hiring, Elizbeth is passionate about developing initiatives that empower working-class families and workers. A Bruin Alum herself, Elizbeth became increasingly involved in student organizing where she collaborated on developing and implementing high school outreach conferences and mentoring programs. After graduation, Elizbeth returned to the San Joaquin Valley, her second home, to work as a Youth Workforce and Leadership Development Specialist. Enrolling in Stanford University’s Teacher Education Program, Elizbeth specialized in math education and taught middle school and high school students before becoming the first Student Affairs Officer for the UCLA Labor Studies minor program.
During her time as SAO, Student Programming Coordinator at the UCLA Labor Center, and in her current position under Labor Studies, Elizbeth is humbled and honored to contribute to the growth and success of this program leading to the development of the first Labor Studies Major in the University of California system. This journey has led her to currently serve as the Western Regional Representative for UALE, the United Association of Labor Education. A full-time working mom of two exceptionally talented young scholars, in her spare time, Elizbeth also serves as a parent coordinator for Kids for Freedom and Justice, an LA-based kids’ group dedicated to learning and engaging in practices of liberation, freedom and justice toward a better world.
Ueberroth Building 2107
Vanessa Codilla graduated from UCLA in 2019 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a minor in Digital Humanities.
As the IRLE Communications Specialist, she increases the visibility of the Labor Studies academic program by producing strategic content for the website and multiple social/multimedia platforms. Having worked at UCLA Residential Life and UCLA Strategic Communications during her undergraduate years, her experience lies in original content creation, graphic design, and storytelling for student audiences. She finds fulfillment in creating easily-digestible content and crafting messages that empower and educate.
Guadalupe Guzman-Argueta is a senior at UCLA majoring in Labor Studies and Sociology. As the former Communications Director of the LatinX Pre-Law Association and former Fundraising Chair for Hermanas Unidas de UCLA, Guadalupe is determined to contribute to her community both on campus and in her hometown, South Central Los Angeles. Guadalupe‘s lifelong passion is to contribute to the Labor Movement in Los Angeles, to support low-wage workers like her parents. In order to do so, she hopes to attend law school and focus on labor and immigration law post-graduation. As the Labor Studies Assistant for the Labor Studies Major and Minor, she hopes to support and encourage students, especially first-generation students like herself, who may feel intimidated to pursue the Labor Studies Major or Minor.
Ashley (she, her, hers) is the Communications Assistant Work Study for the Institute of Research on Labor and Employment and the Labor Studies IDP. She is a fourth-year Labor Studies major with double-minors in Chican@/Central American Studies and Global Studies, and she is the first in her family to attend university. The granddaughter of Bracero farmworkers, Ashley was born in the California Central Valley and grew up in the San Diego-Tijuana border region, where she was raised by a domestic worker. Ashley is passionate about domestic worker organizing, immigrant worker organizing, teachers’ unions, and the learning about the Los Angeles labor movement. She has been involved in AAP’s Research Rookies, the Labor Summer Research Program (2019), Workers & Learners (SRP 199), Summer at LAANE, and UNITE HERE Local 11, and she is currently a SLAP (Student Labor Advocacy Project) Core Organizer. She loves watching Jeopardy!, completing crossword puzzles, and visiting art museums.