Convention July 9-12, 2009 in Las
As a reminder, APALA is proud to
host the first national convening of Asian Pacific American workers and
students, Generations United, Organizing For Change, APALA's 10th
Biennial Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada from July 9-12, 2009. To register on-line, click here,
and for a convention call, click here.
This powerful alliance was launched when we invited
students to join the labor movement through our Organizing Institute and has
continued through our political program, Every Vote Counts, recruiting high
school and college students to reach out and mobilize APA voters. We seek to build a multi-generational
coalition to usher in a new era of change starting with the Employee Free
us as we convene this historic meeting to continue building our collective
agenda. Generations United,
Organizing for Change promises to provide all participants with a renewed
sense of optimism for workers and students alike.
The New York
City chapter of APALA, led by President Lonway Moy, joined a
pan-ethnic coalition of community and union leaders and elected
officials in endorsing City Councilor John Liu in his campaign for
Comptroller. Liu has also been endorsed by the Transportation Workers
Union and the Working Families Party. Liu's understanding of working
class issues stems from his mother's experience as a sweatshop worker
to becoming New York City's first Asian American councilmember in 2001,
Liu worked as a manager at Price Waterhouse Coopers, the accounting
firm. Since his election, Liu has sought good government reforms and
increased transparency in his role as chair of the Transportation
Committee, overseeing NYC's vast public transportation system.
If elected, Liu would be the first Asian American citywide official in New York City, which has an APA population of 800,000 people
according to the 2000 Census.
families have been at the center of the major policy changes in this nation for
decades, and the same is true today. Unions remain the best path to the middle
class, and APALA works with our union brothers and sisters as well as leaders
from the community to ensure that APA workers are heard in DC. So I am pleased
to announce that one of of the areas where our labor movement is united is on
the issue of immigration.
Many of us who are immigrants or the descendants of immigrants who have fought
for workers rights are proud that the labor movement could speak as one voice
on this vital issue. Labor has also taken a leading role in pushing for worker
reforms and the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, and APALA members
across the country have written and spoken to their Congressmembers to ensure
that workers can have the right to organize.
Seventeen years ago, when Asian American labor activists came together to usher
in APALA to the House of Labor, we did so because we believed that immigrant
workers deserve justice. Today, we are still fighting for immigrant and labor
rights, and we are moving closer to better federal policies, but we can only do
so with your active support and participation.
Remember to renew your chapter membership
and we hope to see many of you at APALA's Tenth Biennial Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada
from July 9-12, 2009.
Malcolm Amado Uno
Employee Free Choice Act Introduced
Asian Pacific American workers and their families - like most
Americans - are struggling to keep up in today's economy. Even a college education doesn't guarantee a
good job or secure income anymore. For
decades, the right to organize in the workplace has provided workers with a
stronger voice on the job and opportunities to address inequities such as
language, educational, and other barriers, including discrimination. That's why we need Congress to approve the
Employee Free Choice Act.
Union members across the country have been busy lining up
meetings with members of Congress in their home districts, holding over 400 grassroots events
calling for labor law reform in the form of the Employee Free Choice Act (HR 1409
). The bill was
introduced on March 10 by Representative George Miller and Senator Tom
Harkin and currently has 229 co-sponsors in the House and 39 in the Senate.
"The Employee Free Choice Act is critical to building an economy that
works for everyone in this country again," said Rep. Miller.
response to this development, APALA convened an educational briefing on the
Employee Free Choice Act attended by over a dozen national APA organizations on
March 18, 2009. APALA thanks all of the
organizations for their participation and also acknowledges Arlene Holt-Baker,
Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO, for taking the time to welcome the
Asian Pacific American community into the house of labor. Download APALA's one-page fact sheet
frequently asked questions
Get involved and write your Senator demanding their support for APA workers to
have the freedom to form a union and gain a voice at work. APALA is in full support of EFCA and members
have written letters
and made calls to their representatives
to encourage them to vote for these necessary and long-overdue labor law
reforms. (Photos from Marlan Maralit.)
DREAM Act Propels Students Forward
part of Immigrant Awareness Month, APALA would be remiss in not writing about
the exciting movement on the DREAM Act, which would allow immigrant students to
pay in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities. APALA members on college campuses have been very involved with efforts to push the DREAM Act, as there are an estimated 1.5 million undocumented APA immigrants.
Senator Dick Durbin (IL) reintroduced the federal bill on March 25, which would allow qualified undocumented
students who have graduated from high school or have a GED the opportunity to pay in-state tuition rates, attend college and to gain a
path to legal permanent resident status after six years. In order to have the conditional permanent status removed, immigrant students
must have clean records, two years of enrollment at a community college or
university or two years of military service.
Just recently the College Board, a consortium of over 5000 colleges
and universities, unanimously agreed to endorse the federal bill - a key
element of support for the DREAM Act.
In the states, a number of governors have stepped forward to publicly support
in-state tuition in New Jersey, Maryland and Colorado, although a bill stopped short of passing
A recent push in Oregon
for in-state tuition garnered a supportive editorial from the state's largest
bill is similar to other state DREAM Acts in requiring a three year residency
in the state with plans to become a lawful resident or citizen to qualify for
the program. And even North Carolina, which is one of only two states to
prevent access to higher education for all undocumented students, is revisiting
its policy as a new report shows that the state's educational system
could gain some badly needed revenues by allowing qualified undocumented
students to matriculate.
The DREAM Act has a wide range of supporters, from the students themselves to
the business community, which is interested in ensuring a well-educated
workforce, to educators such as APALA Founding President Kent Wong. Wong, who
currently directs the UCLA Labor Studies
Center, edited Underground Undergrads which featured the stories of undocumented students at UCLA like
Tam Tran, who is now a grad student at Brown University after being able to earn a college
degree thanks to California's
in-state tuition rates for undocumented students:
"It's the idea of what it means to be an
American," Tran said. "Are you American if you were born here, but
spent your entire life outside of the country? Are you more of an American if
you have a Ph.D. in American culture?"
For tens of thousands of Asian American students who would be eligible for
in-state rates as well as a path to citizenship, the federal DREAM Act fulfills
the promise of equal opportunity. At the state level, in-state tuition allows
students who desperately want to give back to their communities the opportunity
to do so.
(Photo from UCLA IDEAS.)
Administration Nominates Worker-Friendly Appointees
The Obama administration has made numerous laudable nominations
and appointments in the past month. Notably, recent worker-friendly
include two labor attorneys, a labor activist, a former union president and a NYS Labor
Commissioner who has given immigrant workers the tools to protect
themselves against unscrupulous employers. APALA congratulates the following individuals:
- May Beth Maxwell, Executive Director of American Rights at Work, was named Senior Adviser at the Department of Labor.
- Craig Becker, associate general counsel for SEIU and the AFLCIO, was nominated to the National Labor Relations Board.
- Mark Pearce, a longtime labor attorney was previously on the NY State Industrial Board of Appeals, a labor-law oversight body.
- Linda Puchala, a
former president of the Association of Flight Attendants union, was nominated to the National Mediation Board.
- Current NYS Labor Commissioner M. Patricia Smith
was nominated as solicitor for the US Department of Labor. Under Smith's leadership, the NYS DoL has
given immigrant workers the tools to combat exploitative employers and
to fight back against wage and hour violations.
APALA applauds the nominations of these advocates who are devoted to justice for the working class. These worker-friendly nominations signifies this administration's commitment to change.