Kent Wong with Maria Elena Durazno, Contreras' widow and a labor leader herself
Kent Wong, a founding member and former President of APALA, is set to publish a new book on labor leader Miguel Contreras' legacy. Contreras, who was the former leader of the Los Angeles Federation of Labor, helped to transform unions in L.A. into a dynamic and powerful force for social change.
Miguel Contreras: Legacy of a Labor Leader is published by UCLA Labor Center and co-written by Michael Viola. The publication examines Contreras' roots as a farm worker and his role in rebuilding the Los Angeles labor movement, promoting immigrant rights, and advancing labor's political power.
UFCW and APALA Launch "Manicurists in Need, Justice Indeed" Campaign
UFCW Local 5, the UFCW Minority
Coalition and APALA recently launched the Manicurists in Need, Justice Indeed
Campaign targeting workers in the nail salon industry, a workforce that has
historically had a large proportion of Vietnamese immigrant women.
In addition to the health risks posed by
hazardous chemicals in many nail products, these workers often face challenges
with fair representation with the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology.
UFCW Local 5 recognized these concerns and
initiated an organizing drive targeting this workforce.
By providing educational forums and access to
decision-makers with the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology, UFCW Local 5 has
reached out to partner with APALA on this specific campaign.
The formal campaign was launched
on September 9, 2009 at an event that included an informational panel, fashion
show, beauty makeovers, singing, member testimonies, and awards to the best
The informational panel included
Madison Nguyen, San Jose City Council member, Richard Hedges, member of the
Board of Barbering and Cosmetology (BBC), Tony Alexander, UFCW Local 5
Political Director and Connie Nguyen, UFCW Local 5 member who is petitioning
for an industry position in the BBC as a representative for the Vietnamese nail
Typhoon Ondoy Ravages the Philippines
On Saturday, September 26, 2009 the Philippines was
ravaged by Typhoon Ondoy, the strongest storm to hit the country in over 40
In a span of 24 hours, the
country received a month's worth of rainfall in a span of 24 hours.
As a result, Manila
and 25 surrounding provinces suffered great devastation, killing hundreds and
leaving more than 400,000 homeless.
Though the rain has subsided, a huge percentage of the damaged areas are
still currently under water.
APALA is making a request to assist in the relief
efforts. To contribute, please
visit www.feedthehungry.org. For more information, please contact Gloria
T. Caoile at 202-257-4314 or email@example.com.
On the first Monday of every September, we
celebrate Labor Day in the US
by taking the day off to spend with friends and family. However, we forget the day was born in 1894
amidst a strike by railroad workers who protested the severe cut in their pay
and rising rent by the Pullman Company.
The American Railway Union and workers across the nation rallied around
these workers and boycotted trains carrying Pullman cars.
It was an election year so President Grover Cleveland, to satisfy
railroad executives, sent in troops to break-up the strike and then six days
later attempted to appease workers by signing the bill creating Labor Day as a
national holiday. Giving workers a
day off didn't work and Cleveland
was not re-elected.
Disrespect towards working families continues
to persist to this day. Ironically, in
the transportation industry again, Delta Airlines has been employing
union-busting tactics in their fight with IAM.
NBC workers continue to be cheated of their pay. Opponents still try to block real healthcare
and immigration reform.
However, some hope has come over the
horizon. We witnessed the election of
the youngest AFL-CIO officer in its history-Liz Shuler as
Secretary-Treasurer. With Richard Trumka
as President and Arlene Holt-Baker as Vice-President, it is the first time that
the majority of the officers are women.
An inspiring group of young worker leaders brought a new energy to the
recent AFL-CIO Diversity Summit. UFCW
has launched an exciting campaign to improve the conditions of nail salon workers
as labor unions and the new AFL-CIO leadership has hit the road to take on corrupt
health insurance companies.
When Labor Day comes again next September,
hopefully we will not be appeased by a day off but celebrating our new hard-won
victories for worker rights, civil rights, and immigrant rights.
APALA Front and Center at AFL-CIO Diversity Summit
Photo: Young Workers Panel
The AFL-CIO organized the National Summit on Diversity II on
Sunday, September 13, 2009 immediately prior to the AFL-CIO Convention. Focusing on creating stronger labor and
community partnerships, diversifying the labor movement and actively reaching
out to younger workers, the summit provided APALA with an opportunity to
highlight the contributions made on behalf of Asian Pacific American workers.
John Delloro, APALA President, participated in a panel
focusing on how the constituency organizations have increased diversity in the
labor movement. Delloro discussed
APALA's long-standing history of engaging Asian Pacific American young workers
and college students, primarily through the APALA Organizing Institute and
through the APALA Every Vote Counts political program.
Amado Uno, APALA Executive Director, facilitated a panel
entitled "Young Workers: Future of Our Movement
which brought together young workers from AFSCME's Next Wave program, APRI,
ATU, the Massachusetts State AFL-CIO and Working America to highlight
successful strategies employed by affiliates and constituency organizations to
engage and retain young workers. The
panel was timely given a recent report released by the AFL-CIO and Working
America entitled "Young Workers: A Lost Decade
Click here to view Resolution 7
on diversity at local and state labor bodies.
In addition, during the convention itself, APALA
member and new Congresswoman Judy Chu of California addressed the
convention as a featured speaker. Chu, who has been a stalwart ally of
working families, has most recently spoken out against wage theft at
car washes in Southern California.
APALA Applauds New AFL-CIO Officers
On September 17, 2009, the AFL-CIO elected
a new slate of officers that includes President Richard Trumka,
Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Schuler and Executive Vice President Arlene
"APALA applauds President Richard Trumka's commitment to
diversifying the labor movement as well as his pledge to actively engage
younger workers," said John Delloro, APALA President. "This vision is consistent with APALA's
contributions of forging stronger student and worker alliances and bringing the
message of organized labor to the Asian Pacific American community. We look forward to working hand in hand with
President Trumka to continue fighting on behalf of working families across the
country, starting with passage of the Employee Free Choice Act."
For the past year, APALA assumed a leadership role to engage
and educate the Asian Pacific American community on the Employee Free Choice
Act. As a result of this pro-active
strategy, over a dozen national Asian Pacific American organizations have
signed off in support of this legislation, which would change labor law to allow
all workers the freedom to join unions.
This election also represents the first time in the
AFL-CIO's history that a woman has been elected to the position of
Secretary-Treasurer, as well as the first time that two women have been elected
to serve in leadership positions in the same administration.
"The election of Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Schuler and
Executive Vice President Arlene Holt-Baker symbolizes a shift in the perception
of women in the labor movement," said Johanna Hester, APALA Treasurer. "We know that women have historically played
an instrumental role in the fight for worker's rights. However, now we can all take pride in the
fact that two out of the three top positions in the labor movement are held by
strong women leaders."
Health Care Reform - Families on the Line
As millions of Asian American workers struggle to keep their
jobs, they also face increased health care costs. According to Jeff Caballero, executive director of the Association of Asian Pacific Community
Health Organizations (AAPCHO), "more than one in five Asian Americans and
Pacific Islanders [are] uninsured against the crippling costs of health care
Congress is clear that health reform is one of the nation's
most pressing concerns, and is currently considering several major health
reform bills. These bills include HR 3200 which includes a public option to cover all Americans and a health care
exchange that will allow Americans to comparison shop various health care
plans. The public option is supported by doctors, labor unions (the AFLCIO just passed a resolution in support), and a large segment of the voting public.
Although the Senate Finance Committee voted down a public option, activists anticipate that the fight is not over, especially since it is politically popular. A recent poll by the NYTimes finds that 65% of respondents
support a public option, with only 26% opposed.
Meanwhile, states are feeling the strain of budget deficits and increased unemployment pushing more residents onto Medicaid rolls. A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that there is increasing concern that states won't be able to cover everyone, leading to potential benefit and eligibility cutbacks at a time when families need more help, not less.
To prevent cuts in health care to immigrant and lower income families from being included in federal legislation,
Representative Mike Honda of California spearheaded two letters in
favor of allowing immigrants to pay for health care and eliminating the 5 year waiting period for legal immigrants to participate in Medicaid. Over 20 members of Congress have signed on in support of these letters. Rep. Honda also
stated that "without the strong reforms that have been proposed in House
legislation, the average family will pay $1,800 more for healthcare next year." These expenses are too much for APA families who are trying to get by in hard economic times.