APALA E-Newsletter
The APA Voice of Labor July 2009
In This Issue
Reminder: Convention
Featured Chapter
Did You Know?
APALA Chapters Gain Awards and Recognition
Reuniting Families Act Reintroduced
Reminder: APALA

Convention logo APALA is 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.
The program 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.
Featured Chapter
underground undergrads
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.

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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.
In solidarity,
Malcolm Amado Uno
Executive Director

LA awardees
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.

The Los 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.

alamedaWageTheftAlameda 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
VietnameseLabor 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.

California Assembly Member
Assemblymember Warren 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.  Warren 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 recognized Warren 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 National Museum.

Executive Vice President, SEIU
Medina's 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 workers.

President, IFPTE
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.

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.