APALA Congratulates Congresswoman Judy Chu
APALA congratulates Congresswoman Judy Chu on being sworn into Congress on July 16, 2009. The day was a historic one as Representative
Chu became the first Chinese American woman elected to Congress. Growing up
with her mother, who was a Teamster and an immigrant worker, Rep. Chu has been a strong supporter of working families since
before she even became an elected official. As a college student, she took ethnic studies courses, and later, she sought to bridge ethnic
divides as a school board leader. All of these experiences helped to shape her
twenty-four year career in public service.
APALA Los Angeles has worked together with Rep. Chu over the
years and deserves recognition for its hard work in electing her to Congress. The LA chapter endorsed her early, sent volunteers and had her keynote at their fundraiser. We are confident that she will continue to fight
for working families and Asian Pacific Americans in our nation's capital.
San Francisco & San Mateo Chapters rallied on Saturday, June 27, 2009 to
expose the unfair labor practices of car dealership Grace Honda and Homa Yamin, Owner.
Service-Shop Staff, represented by the
International Association of Machinists (IAM) Local 1414 and the International
Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Local 665, have been forced to walk the picket
line for 10 months. These workers are
risking everything to save their current wage levels, health care benefits and
even the right to speak while at work.
After two years of negotiations, the owner proposed the takeaways in a
last minute effort to derail efforts to reconcile disagreements.
Wage Theft is Wrong!
The Alameda County Chapter, along with local elected
officials, workers and community members, attended a rally condemning the
alleged criminal acts of NBC Contractors and owner Monica Ung on July 20,
2009. Ung formally faces criminal
charges, including 48 felony counts involving wage theft, insurance fraud and
perjury at the Alameda County Superior courthouse in Hayward, California. The
NBC workers, who are predominately Chinese-immigrant workers, accuse Ung with
cheating them out of $3.6 million in unpaid wages.
Speakers at the rally included Patricia Kernighan, Oakland
City Council Member, David Kakashiba, Oakland Board of Education Director, Abel
Guillen, Peralta Community College Trustee, Ricky Lau, an electrician and
former NBC worker, who also attended the APALA Convention.
"NBC intimidated workers, forcing us to sign false time
cards," said Lau. "We could not receive
our paychecks unless we signed time cards that reduced our hours by as much as
85 percent. We are just asking to be
paid the hours we worked."
When I was recently elected President of APALA at our 10th
Biennial Convention, I felt overwhelmed by emotion.
Standing at the microphone, I looked out at the familiar
faces, especially the founding members of APALA, and saw a family who nurtured
and developed me for most of my adult life.
Like the proverbial prodigal son after a long absence from home, I felt
like I was seeing them for the first time.
I am reminded of a moment when I was recovering from a hospital operation and overheard my nurse telling people that I was a family
member. I inquisitively looked up at her
from my bed and said, "we're family?"
She responded, "my union family."
I am humbled by the
opportunity to serve an organization that showed me, and a whole generation of
Asian Pacific Americans, the power of that family and its importance in our
lives. I am a product of the efforts of
Luisa Blue, Josie Camacho, Gloria T. Caoile, May Chen, Lila Chui, Matt Finucane,
Guy Fujimura, Rich Gurtiza, Lenny Moy, Tony Sarmiento, Marian Thom, Kent Wong
and many of the founding members.
Our outgoing officers, President Maria Somma, VP Joan Takano,
Treasurer Kathleen Tapacio-Flores, and Secretary Marian Thom had the foresight
to convene the first national convention of Asian Pacific American workers and
students under the banner "Generations United, Organizing for Change" in
recognition of the need to think about the future. They led APALA through its most tumultuous
period in its history and kept it strong and intact for a new generation of
trade unionists to continue carrying the torch.
It is with humility and honor that I, and many who attended
this historic gathering, join in bearing this flame because we still have a
long way to go until we reach the finish line.
As generations united, we must fulfill the original vow
taken at the founding APALA convention to create a more inclusive and stronger
We must fight to pass the Employee Free Choice Act. We must persevere to pass the Dream Act and comprehensive
immigration reform. We must continue building student and worker alliances and a
larger movement for socio-economic justice.
And we will cross the finish line as one Union Family.
APALA National President
Unions Keep up Pressure for Employee Free Choice Act
APALA members continue to push for the need for comprehensive labor law reform through the passage of EFCA. The labor movement remains highly united and adamant that the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) remains the best legislation for working families to gain a voice on the job. The bill would:
- Remove current obstacles to employees who want collective bargaining.
- Guarantee that workers who can choose collective bargaining are able to achieve a contract.
- Allow employees to form unions by signing cards authorizing union representation.
EFCA gained a cosponsor in newly minted Senator Al Franken, who made it his first act, signing up within hours of being seated.
In other good news, APALA members in Hawaii participated in the passage of a "Hawaii EFCA
" or a state bill to promote majority signup in the workplace. It allows unions to be certified if a majority of workers sign union authorization cards, provides for first contract arbitration if a company and the union cannot reach agreement after 110 days, and includes new penalties of up to $10,000 for unfair labor practices.
Convention: Generations United, Organizing for Change
APALA successfully convened over 400 Asian Pacific American
union members, community allies and student leaders at APALA's 10th
Biennial Convention, Generations United, Organizing for Change in Las
Vegas, Nevada from July 9-12, 2009. Generations
United, Organizing for Change marked the first national gathering of Asian
Pacific American workers and students and provided participants with a renewed
sense of optimism for multi-generational leadership in the Labor Movement as
well as in the broader struggle for social and economic justice.
Speakers at the Convention included Alberto Torrico,
Majority Leader of the California Assembly, Warren Furutani, California
Assembly Member, Greg Junemann, IFPTE President, Eliseo Media, SEIU Executive
Vice President, Danny Thompson, Executive Secretary Treasurer, Nevada State
AFL-CIO and D. Taylor, Executive Secretary Treasurer of the Culinary Workers
Union Local 226.
The Awards Gala at the convention is an opportunity for
APALA to celebrate labor and community leaders that have made significant
contributions to APALA's mission. Guests
were welcomed by Greg Junemann, IFPTE President, who discussed the need for
Asian Pacific American leadership in the labor movement. Junemann welcomed the large student contingent and challenged convention attendees to get as much out of the meeting as possible. Eliseo Medina, SEIU Executive Vice President,
served as the keynote speaker and highlighted the leadership role that APALA
has taken in the debate for comprehensive immigration reform. Medina stated, "SEIU is proud to be your partner in our struggle for social justice in this country. We have come a long way together, APALA and SEIU, and we still have a long way to go because our work is still not done."
Johanna Hester received the Philip Vera Cruz Award, given to
an outstanding Asian Pacific American union organizer. The SEIU Local
521 APALA Caucus received the Vincent Foo Award, given to an outstanding labor
organization. And the United States
Student Association received the Generations Rising Award, launched at the
convention to recognize a student or youth advocacy organization dedicated to
worker, immigrant and civil rights.
In addition, Victor Uno received the Art Takei Award, given to
an Asian Pacific American union activist that has shown leadership in their
union or APALA Chapter. Uno was joined on stage by his wife Josie Camacho (a previous recipient of Phillip Vera Cruz award,) and their son, APALA Executive President Amado Uno, and grandmother Kiku Uno, who was a member of UTLA. The family gathering represented the best of APALA and the coming together of generations of labor activists.
New Officers and Executive Board
APALA elected new officers and national executive board
members. The officers elected were John
Delloro (AFT), President; Luisa Blue (SEIU), First Vice President; Matt
Finucane (NEA), Second Vice President; Johanna Hester (AFSCME), Treasurer; and
Lila Chui (AFT), Secretary.
Departing APALA Officers
APALA acknowledges the outgoing officers for the time,
commitment and dedication they have devoted to the organization. These officers include Maria Somma (USW),
former President; Joan Takano (AFSCME), former Second Vice President; Kathleen
Topacio-Flores (AFSCME), former Treasurer; and Marian Thom (AFT), former
APALA thanks everyone who joined us in Las Vegas for participating and making it a successful and memorable event.