APALA E-Newsletter
The APA Voice of Labor   April 2010
In This Issue
Leader Profile: Sin Yee Poon
APALA Elected Chair of LCCA
APALA Executive Board Convenes in DC
APALA Receives Berger-Marks Foundation Grant
Leader Profile: Sin Yee Poon

Sin Yee Poon, center

APALA congratulates Sin Yee Poon, who was recently elected as Chief Elected Officer of SEIU Local 1021.  A founding APALA member, and SF APALA Chapter member, Poon was a former union rank and file leader with HERE Local 2 in San Francisco's hotel industry and eventually joined the union as a Business Agent.  Later, she served SEIU Local 250 as a union field representative in the acute care hospital industry. 

During the 1990s, Poon worked for the City and County of San Francisco and was eventually elected as President of SEIU Local 790.  On March 10, 2010, Poon was elected to head SEIU Local 1021, which has a membership of over 50,000 members.  Congratulations Sin Yee Poon!

APALA Elected Chair of LCCA

Typhoon Ondoy

On April 8, 2010 Malcolm Amado Uno, APALA Executive Director, was elected Chair of the Labor Coalition for Community Action (LCCA), an umbrella coalition representing the six constituency organizations of the AFL-CIO.  As the representative of the constituency organizations, LCCA was created to bring the voice and perspective of the labor movement to communities of color, women and the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
This vision is manifested through a myriad of programs that include leadership development, training organizers of color, political mobilization and strengthening labor and community partnerships.  APALA respectfully acknowledges outgoing Chair, Gloria Johnson, for her dedication and service to the constituency organizations, as well as the broader labor movement.

Vietnam in Transition: Panel in NYC and Delegation Visits CA

Typhoon Ondoy

As part of an on-going exchange between APALA and the Vietnamese General Confederation of Labor (VGCL), the Alameda County and San Francisco Chapters hosted a delegation of VGCL leaders from April 6-8, 2010.  Continuing the theme of "Building Solidarity and Friendship with the VGCL," the chapter coordinated a program that included work site visits, meetings with labor leaders and engaging with Asian American and Pacific Islander community leaders from around the Bay Area.

Kent Wong also traveled to New York City to present on a panel with May Chen regarding the state of Vietnamese unions and how workers are coping in the aftermath of an influx of global capital. The panel was hosted by APALA New York, CUNY's Asian American/ Asian Research Institute, and the Murphy Worker Education Institute of CUNY. See the video here.

Quick Links
Join Our Mailing List

EarthPassagesThis Spring season warrants "the best and the worst of times" for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

It was the "best of times" because we had a lot to celebrate with the
passage of health care reform, the most significant step forward in 20
years. Not only can AAPIs look forward to not being kicked off the insurance rolls due to pre-existing conditions, but also the health care reconciliation bill contained significant measures to help college students pay for loans and to improve affordability.

However, we were also greeted by " the worst of times" with the signing of SB1070 by the governor of Arizona which basically gives the police the authority to pull over anyone who may look like an "illegal" immigrant.  On this same day, I was participating in a DREAM Act workshop at the 20th Annual Students of Color Conference in Yakima, Washington.  A 19-year old student named "Jair" stood up and told his story. He has spent almost his entire life in the US and currently ranks as one of the top 2 students at his college. "Jair" suddenly broke down and began crying and through his tears, he stated, "but no matter how hard I work and no matter what I do, I am told that I do not matter. I just want a normal life." This student is undocumented but he had the courage to stand up and fight for his rights as a human being.

An elder white woman in her 70s spoke up and declared her support of "Jair." Another student pledged to talk with his student senate.  The rest of the room, even those who initially did not support the plight of undocumented students, followed suit and stood by "Jair".

Our victories and setbacks remind us progress is two steps forward and one step back. It also challenges us to make our voices louder since it is our stories that can bring a room together.
In Unity,
John Delloro
National President, APALA
Board Members w/ Holt-BakerAPALA Executive Board Convenes in Washington DC

APALA's leadership convened in Washington D.C. for our National Executive Board meeting from April 16-17, 2010.  Board members met to set priorities for the upcoming year, receive legislative updates and engage with national allies on labor and community priorities. 

Board with Kiran AhujaAPALA leaders were addressed by AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker (pictured above), Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Kiran Ahuja (pictured right), Special Assistant in the Office of Public Engagement for the U.S. Department of Labor Cindy Chen, and Senior Economist with the Center for Economic and Policy Research John Schmitt.  Finally, board members attended a book signing for Organizing on Separate Shores, authored by APALA Founding President Kent Wong, featuring former APALA President Maria Somma.

APALA Receives Berger-Marks Foundation Grant

The Berger Marks Foundation was founded to bring the benefits of unionization to working women and assist organizations that are committed to these principles.  The primary objective of the organization is to provide financial assistance to women who are engaged in union organizing and to assist working women who want to organize other women into unions through training, research and other resources.


A recent report published by the Center for Economic and Policy Research clearly demonstrates that Asian American and Pacific Islander women comprise close to half of the AAPI union members.  However, there are few leadership development opportunities targeting this specific demographic.  As a result, APALA applied for and received a grant from the Berger-Marks Foundation to implement the first Organizing Institute targeting Asian Pacific American women. 


The Organizing Institute is an intensive three-day training program designed to provide leadership development opportunities for rank and file Asian Pacific American union members to develop organizing skills as well as provide an opportunity for young Asian Pacific American women and recent college graduates to become union organizers.


APALA thanks the Berger-Marks Foundation for their generous grant!  We plan to implement this project during the summer, so keep an eye open for this opportunity!

grad capHow the Reconciliation Act Improves Access to Education for APAs
Asian Pacific Americans stand to benefit greatly from the education provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.  "Congress deserves praise for increasing access to education at a time when higher education is becoming ever more important for success in the global economy," said Matthew Finucane (NEA), APALA 2nd Vice President." APALA especially thanks Rep. David Wu, Rep. Mike Honda, the entire Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and the Hill education committees for ensuring long term funding of AAPI serving institutions."

The bill will help expand college access and increase graduation rates for Asian Americans in three main ways. By making higher education more affordable, more APAs will be able to earn a college degree. The law raises the maximum Pell Grant, makes loan payments more affordable for students with unmanageable debt, increases investments in community colleges, and extends support for institutions of higher education that have a high minority student population.

Increases Pell Grants: The law allows for $40 billion in Pell Grants so that all students have a chance to afford tuition. It also ensures that the maximum Pell Grant will be tied to the cost of living so as to keep pace with rising college costs. By 2020, the Department of Education estimates 40,000 additional Pell Grant awards would be made to Asian American students due to the changes in the law.

Expands Income Based Repayment: Because of the high cost of college, about two-thirds of students take out college loans with an average student debt of over $23,000. This high debt burden prevents graduates from taking on careers in the public service. Beginning in 2014, graduates will be allowed to cap their student loan repayments at 10 percent of their discretionary income and have their balance forgiven after 20 years of steady repayment. This is in addition to current law which states that public service workers will have student debt forgiven after only 10 years. According to Department of Education estimates, of the 1.2 million borrowers projected to qualify and take part in the expanded IBR program between 2014 and 2020, approximately 48,000 are expected to be Asian American.

Increases Support for Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs):

The bill provides $50 million to Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs) in mandatory funding over ten years, and additional monies to other historically minority-serving institutions. This money relieves some of the budget pressures on schools that have large AAPI student populations to ensure that students can reach their maximum potential.