MEET GRAHAM & CHRISTY
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. A proud eleven-year member of IBEW Local 48, and UAW Local 1981 (in honor of his grandfather), Graham is ready and excited to work hard to keep Oregon UNION STRONG.
Christy O’Neill is a proud Oregonian who grew up in Eagle Point, Oregon. She is a member of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees and works as a Teacher for Southern Oregon Head Start. Since 2007, Christy has facilitated pathways to success for some of Oregon’s most at-risk populations of children and their families through engagement, education, and action.
In 2013, Christy’s fighting spirit and passion for her coworkers and students drove her to become President of her Local (AFSCME Local 2619) where she applied many of the same principles used with her students in that role. She engaged members in conversations in the workplace, built foundational relationships throughout her worksite, and she educated and prepared her peers for impending attacks on their collective bargaining rights and voice on the job. In order to succeed in these fights as a Local Union leader, she has always been passionate about activating member leaders to step up, speak out, and fight back.
Under Christy’s leadership, Local 2619 saw record member turnout and engagement in the 2016 and 2018 election cycles. She continued honing her leadership skills as an effective, collaborative Local Union President before bringing that passion for strengthening the connections between members and their union to a statewide role. In 2017, she was elected First Vice President of Oregon AFSCME Council 75.
She believes in the collective power of strong relationships between unions and like-minded community partners as a strategy for building power and winning on campaigns of common interest. Her work in Southern Oregon engaging in various coalitions and on countless political campaigns is a reflection of her passion for building power and capacity at the local level and in more rural parts of the state.
Christy is a delegate to the Southern Oregon Central Labor Chapter and has been an invited speaker at a variety of events including the 2017 Oregon AFL-CIO hosted Medford Labor Movement Teach-In as a panelist focused on building power within our unions through effective internal organizing and one-on-one engagement. She has also been a member of the Oregon Strong Voice coalition in Southern Oregon since its inception allowing her to deepen connections between unions and local community groups.
Christy is a first-generation union member. Having experienced both union and non-union jobs, she has seen firsthand what “The Union Difference” means for working families. She believes that strong unions and collective bargaining contribute to better living and working conditions for entire communities, not just a single group of workers. This is especially evident within the highly vulnerable populations she serves at Southern Oregon Head Start. Christy is fired up and ready for the fight to keep moving Oregon Labor Forward.
PAID FOR AND AUTHORIZED BY THE OREGON LABOR FORWARD CAMPAIGN