proud to host our 10th Biennial Convention, Generations United, Organizing for Change,
the first national gathering of Asian Pacific American workers and students
from July 9-12, 2009 at Bally's Hotel in Las Vegas Nevada. Participants can
register on-line at www.apalanet.org.
will highlight prominent worker and student solidarity campaigns from around
the country, elevate successful strategies used by unions and organizations to
organize Asian Pacific Americans, and feature elected officials, labor,
community and student leaders who will address the Employee Free Choice Act,
the DREAM Act and the Green Collar Economy.
For more information, please visit us online.
The New York APALA chapter recently hosted
Kent Wong and Tam Tran of the Los Angeles chapter for a discussion of Underground Undergrads and the impact of the DREAM Act. The event was cosponsored with Labor Council for Latin American Advancement.
Did You Know?
That there's a bill by Assemblymember Paul Fong in the California state house which would apologize for discrimination
against Chinese American workers in the form of the Chinese Exclusion Acts, head taxes, and laws forbidding the right to buy property or to marry people of other races. The bill would also recognize Chinese American contributions to the state's economic and civic life.
Chinese American workers helped to build the infrastructure of California and the United States, working on the transcontinental railroad and levee and irrigation projects, in shipyards, farm fields, mines, and in other dangerous settings. In 1882, they were made the
targets of the nation's first law limiting immigration based on race or
nationality, the Chinese Exclusion Act, which excluded Chinese Americans from citizenship and barred reunification with loved ones.
During this period of heightened xenophobia, Chinese Americans had to register for and obtain a certificate of residence. The ban, which was intended to last 10 years, was renewed and strengthened with additions like the Immigration Act of 1924 which extended the ban to other Asian immigrants, and existed until its repeal in 1943, although its effects were felt for many years after.
While our chapters have been busy organizing APA workers for justice (and gaining recognition for their leadership), we have been busy advocating for justice and equality, including comprehensive immigration reform. I participated at a Senate AAPI Townhall Meeting where advocates and elected officials gathered to discuss how the Asian American community should tackle economic, housing, and immigration reform.
We will be bringing some of the allies who we work with in Washington DC to Las Vegas to provide a national perspective and we'll also profile some innovative local organizing campaigns while honoring courageous leaders.
Join us in strategizing at workshops around key issues including health care equity, voting rights and immigration reform. Hear from top elected officials and labor leaders including California Assemblymember Warren Furutani, Eliseo Medina (SEIU), Gregory Junemann (IPFTE), and Danny Thompson (Nevada AFL-CIO) on how to build a strong union movement.
Consider the APALA convention a celebration not unlike a family reunion, a chance to catch up with old friends and to meet young APAs in labor. I promise that you will leave full of energy and excited to go back and do more with your local chapter.
Malcolm Amado Uno
APALA Chapters Gain Awards and Recognition
Chapters of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance have been gaining awards and recognition for the work that they do in mobilizing workers and Asian American and Pacific Islanders.
Angeles/Orange Counties Organizing Committee honored the APALA LA Chapter with
the 2009 Joe Hill Award for the community sector (photo above.) The Joe Hill Organizer Awards Luncheon is an
annual gathering intended to celebrate the memory of Joe Hill, a former union
organizer, community activist and songwriter, by celebrating outstanding
individuals and organizations connected to the labor movement. The LA Chapter was recognized for its role
in creating strategic community and labor alliances. Other awardees included Robbie Hunter, Iron
Workers Local 433, Cheryl Parisi, AFSCME Council 36, Jim Santangelo, Teamsters
Joint Council and Eric Jackson, UA 250.
Meanwhile, the San Francisco chapter celebrated APA Heritage Month by honoring five former San Francisco
Airport baggage/ security screeners who were laid off by the federal
government due to their immigration status. Vicente Crisologo, Erlinda Valencia, Eleanor Miranda, Lay Tan and
Ruby Boja were "green card" holders employed at San Francisco international airport who were terminated in November 2001 when Congress declared that only U.S. citizens were permitted to work as airport baggage/security screeners.
Undeterred, these five workers filed a discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. government and won their case in March 2002, and returned to their jobs. APALA-SF honored these workers' brave fight against injustice in the workplace with the "Golden Gate Victory Award." Community newspaper Asianweek
provided coverage of the dinner.
Alameda County held a fundraiser in honor of a successful campaign against wage theft at the workplace (see photo to left.)
On May 29, 2009, the
APALA Alameda County fundraiser honored the courage of a group of
Chinese-immigrant construction workers that stood up to demand justice. Formerly employed at NBC, a large general
contractor based out of Oakland, California, several workers accused NBC of
several egregious labor violations. As a
result of the brave stance taken by workers like Ricky Lau, justice was
eventually served. On May 27, 2009, the
CEO of NBC was arrested for wage theft, workers' compensation insurance and tax
fraud totaling over $5 million dollars.
Over 200 community and labor activists attended the fundraiser to
support the campaign. Additionally,
Alice Lai-Bitker, President of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors,
presented the workers with a Resolution naming May 29 NBC Workers Day.
We are inspired by the ongoing efforts of our local chapters to pursue workplace justice.Information about chapters contributed by chapter members including John Vu.
Reuniting Families Act Reintroduced
Family values are central to the immigration debate, and the years can stretch before family members are able to see each other. There are currently almost 6 million people, many of whom are Asian, in the family immigration backlog waiting unconscionable periods of time to reunite with loved ones in the US.
To address this problem, Congressman Mike Honda introduced the House version of the Reuniting Families Act (HR 2709.) The bill would ensure that efforts on immigration reform are truly comprehensive
and support the core value of keeping all families together. Rep. Honda stated,
By providing American workers with a vital social safety net-that is,
their family-we help make our communities stronger and more resilient.
The benefits here cannot be overstated. American workers with families
by their side are happier, healthier and more able to succeed than
those distanced from loved ones for years on end.
The House version of the bill is a companion to a similar Senate bill (S 1085) that was introduced in May by Senators Menendez, Schumer, Gillibrand, and Kennedy.
The Asian American Justice Center has a handy factsheet on the benefits of family reunification.
APALA Convention Featured Speakers
Interested in knowing more about the labor leaders and elected officials who will be joining us in Las Vegas? Read on, and then register for convention to meet them in person.
Furutani was first elected in a special election to the 55th District in
February 2008 and re-elected in the same year to his first full two-year
term. He represents the cities of Carson, Lakewood, (North
and West) Long Beach, and the Los Angeles
communities of Harbor City, the Harbor Gateway and Wilmington.
has 40 years of experience and involvement in education and public service,
both as an elected official and a community organizer. He is the only person to have been elected
and re-elected to the boards of the Los
Angeles Unified School District and the Los Angeles
Community College District. Beginning as
an activist in the 1960's and continuing to the present day, Warren
has worked hard to ensure that all people living in the Golden State
have equal opportunities, especially as it relates to education. These opportunities include working for a
quality K-12 education system, affordable and accessible college and university
education, and career and technical education programs for all students. Warren
is also an advocate for environmental issues-like clean air, and maintaining an
adequate "safety net" of health and social services for those who
need them. Despite the short amount of time Warren has been an Assemblymember, he has
been recognized by a numerous organizations for his hard work. The Professional Engineers in California
Government honored Warren
with their 2008 Legislator of the Year Award.
Also, the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges
that same year as Legislator of the Year for his continued leadership on higher
education. And, the California
Conservation Corps bestowed him with the same award because of his AB 2537,
which facilitates volunteerism as it relates to public works projects. A native Californian and fourth generation
Japanese American, Warren is a product of the Los Angeles public education system. He has been published and interviewed in education
journals, university academic publications, newspapers, books and
documentaries. He is featured in a
permanent exhibit, "Common Ground" in the Japanese American
Executive Vice President, SEIU
career as a labor activist began in 1965 when, as a 19-year-old grape-picker,
he participated in the historic United Farm Workers' strike in Delano, Calif.
Over the next 13 years, Medina worked alongside labor leader and civil rights
activist Cesar Chavez and honed his skills as a union organizer and political
strategist; eventually rising through the ranks to serve as the United Farm
Workers' national vice president. Medina has
served as international executive vice president of the SEIU since 1996, when
he made history by becoming the first Mexican American elected to a top post at
the 2 million-member SEIU. His work has helped make SEIU the fastest-growing
union on the West Coast and the largest union in California. Since 1996, more than 1 million
workers across the country have united with SEIU, the nation's largest union of
health care workers and the union with the largest membership of immigrant
GREGORY J. JUNEMANN
Gregory J. Junemann was unanimously elected to
serve as president of the International Federation of Professional and
Technical Engineers (IFPTE) AFL-CIO & CLC at the union's 54th Convention in
July 2003 after being appointed to the position in March 2001. Under President
Junemann's direction, IFPTE's goals have focused on leadership development and
on revitalizing the union's legislative and political efforts. These efforts
have given the union a stronger voice in influencing national policy. His
guidance has often merited IFPTE recognition in national publications such as
the Washington Post, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal.
Junemann was elected in 2005 to the AFL-CIO Executive Council. President
Junemann serves as Co-Chairof two AFL-CIO Committees--Organizing and
Immigration-and is also a member of several AFL-CIO committees including:
Training and Education, International Affairs, Political Policy, State and
Local Organizations, and Public Affairs.
DANNY L. THOMPSON
Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Nevada State AFL-CIO
Danny began working at the Nevada State AFL-CIO
as their first Political Director and functioned as the organization's chief
lobbyist. He also served as the Campaign
Director for the Nevadans for Fairness campaign on the issue of paycheck
protection. He was a leader for Labor
'98, campaigning for U.S. Senator Harry Reid's re-election campaign. In September 1999, Danny was elected
Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Nevada State AFL-CIO. Danny is currently a
member of the Board of Directors for the United Way of Southern
Nevada, as well as the Chairman of the Board of the United Labor
Agency of Nevada. He is a member of the
Board of Directors of the Corporation for Solar Technology and Renewable
Resources and the Chairman of the State's Renewable Energy Taskforce. Serving on the Citizens' Trauma Taskforce,
Danny is also a member of the Board of Directors for the National Kidney
Foundation of Nevada.
Vice President, United States Student Association
Cendana is a graduate of the University of California,
Los Angeles and
currently serves as the Vice President of the United States Student Association (USSA). USSA is the country's
oldest & largest national student organization and was the first youth
organization to endorse the Employee Free Choice Act. Cendana began his five
year student organizing career as an intern with AFSCME 3299 organizing service
workers in the residence halls and was elected Community & Labor Liaision
for USSA. He later became Student Body Vice President and a trainer with the Midwest Academy and Campus Camp Wellstone,
training thousands of students in direct action & electoral organizing. He
also served on the executive board for Samahang Pilipino, a Pilipino advocacy
organization, bringing the California & Federal DREAM Acts to the forefront
of Samahang's advocacy platform. Cendana also enjoys his roles as a national
board member for Jobs with Justice & the Generational Alliance.