APALA E-Newsletter
The APA Voice of Labor September 2009
In This Issue
Member Spotlight
UFCW and APALA Launch "Manicurists in Need, Justice Indeed" Campaign
APALA Front and Center at AFL-CIO Diversity Summit
APALA Applauds New Officers
Member Spotlight
Wong Durazo 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 nail salon kickoff

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 salon.  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 salon workers.

Typhoon Ondoy Ravages the Philippines

Typhoon Ondoy

On Saturday, September 26, 2009 the Philippines was ravaged by Typhoon Ondoy, the strongest storm to hit the country in over 40 years.  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 gtcaoile@cox.net.

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Labor Day 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.
In Unity,
John Delloro
National President, APALA
young workers panel 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.
new AFLCIO officersAPALA 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 Holt-Baker.

"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 today."
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.