President, Oregon AFL-CIO
Graham grew up in a small, rural, Midwestern town in the heart of the historical stronghold of the American automobile manufacturing industry, not far from the birthplace of the United Automobile Workers. His grandfather, a forty-year UAW member at a factory in Northeastern Indiana, used his union card to lift his family out of Depression-era poverty and into the middle class. His grandfather’s deep roots within the UAW and his mother’s involvement in the Indiana State Teachers Association had far-reaching impacts on his life.
As the son of an elementary school teacher and bank salesman, he was instilled with a strong work ethic and commitment to community service. From an early age, Graham always had a job. He baled hay, worked at a local hardware store, was a server in the restaurant industry, and was a UFCW member at a grocery store during college. He grew up with a keen understanding of the dignity and value of all work.
After graduating college, Graham’s passion for activism led him to a job as a community organizer. This exposure to the fight and struggle for social and economic justice, and organizations and campaigns across the country, had him hooked. He committed himself to a career of community and public service, wanting to fight for what mattered. More than thirteen years ago, Graham joined the Oregon Labor Movement as the State Director for Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO. Around that time, he had opportunities to help Oregon workers come to power through forming their own union and winning political and policy campaigns that made a tangible difference in their lives. Those were some of the most formative moments of his early career, and he has been championing the Oregon Labor Movement ever since.
Graham has served in nearly every role at the Oregon AFL-CIO, as an organizer, campaign manager, lobbyist, and now as Chief of Staff. He has been on the frontlines of many of the fights for economic justice in Oregon throughout that time. Notably, he led the largest paid get-out-the-vote operation in Working America’s history, defeated Bill Sizemore’s most recent attack on our unions (Ballot Measure 64 in 2008) as campaign manager, and helped lead and negotiate Oregon’s recent groundbreaking minimum wage increase.
Graham’s track record with the Oregon AFL-CIO has prepared him to be a strong leader for the challenges ahead for our Movement. In collaboration with a team of incredibly talented Oregon AFL-CIO staff and trade unionists, he is ready to take on the hard fights for a fair and just economy alongside the Federation’s great affiliate union leaders. Graham is a proud eleven-year member of IBEW Local 48, and UAW Local 1981 (in honor of his grandfather).