The Oregon AFL-CIO has hired a research specialist to augment its organizing program. Nafisah Ula was recruited to the state labor federation from the national AFL-CIO’s Center for Strategic Research, where she spent two-and-a-half years doing research to help affiliated unions organize new members. She’ll do similar work in Oregon — researching the structure of private sector companies, for instance, identifying who the decision-makers are, and helping workplace organizers build lists of workers.
Ula, 27, grew up in Laramie, Wyoming, a daughter of immigrants from Bangladesh. From an early age, she noticed and was bothered by economic inequality. At University of Michigan Ann Arbor, she became an activist for racial and economic justice, and spent summers working for the labor movement. She conducted research for the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center in Durban, South Africa in conjunction with United Students Against Sweatshops. And she served as an apprentice organizer with UNITE HERE in a food service worker campaign in San Jose. After earning a bachelor’s degree in sociology from University of Michigan and a masters degree in political theory from the University of Chicago, she interned at the Workers Rights Consortium, an international labor rights monitoring group and then went to work as a researcher for Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ, a 120,000 member union of janitors and security guards. She joined the national AFL-CIO in January 2011.