APALA E-Newsletter
The APA Voice of Labor  July 2010
In This Issue
Save the Date: Women's Organizing Institute
Launch: Breaking Ground, Breaking Silence
NY Worker Rights Hearing
NYS Senate Passes Domestic Worker Rights Bill
Save the Date: Women's Organizing Institute

Women's OI

APALA and the Orange County Labor Federation, with financial support from the Berger Marks Foundation, are proud to host the first Women's Organizing Institute in Orange, California from August 6-8, 2010.  The APALA Organizing Institute, one of the flagship programs of APALA, was initiated in 1992.  However, this is the first training program focusing on Asian Pacific American women with a gender lens and focus.


Asian Pacific Americans represents one of the fastest growing segments of unionized workers.  Furthermore, approximately half of all Asian Pacific American workers are women.  Unfortunately, there are few leadership development opportunities for Asian Pacific American women.  The intensive three-day training program will target Asian Pacific American rank and file union members as well as young workers and recent college graduates. 


Participants will learn organizing skills from some of the most seasoned Asian Pacific American women union organizers from across the country.  To apply for the program, applicants are encouraged to fill out the on-line application.  For more questions, do not hesitate to contact the APALA officers.

Save the Date: 2011 APALA Convention

Santa Clara/ San Mateo Chapter Celebrate API Heritage Month


The APALA SEIU 521 Caucus celebrated their 3rd Annual Asian & Pacific Islander Heritage Month Celebration on May 29th in San Jose, California.  Led by Caucus Chair, Luis Aguilar, the event brought together a diverse group of communities, ranging from Filipino, Samoan, Japanese, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Chinese, Korean, and Mexican just to name a few.  Many local leaders also joined to recognize the importance of API Heritage Month.  Assemblymember Paul Fong, who represents the 22nd Congressional District in California, was the keynote speaker and provided an insightful history of API workers and their relation to the labor movement.  City of Campbell Mayor, Evan Low, a young and rising leader, articulated an inspirational message to promote leadership and unity across generations.  Among other prominent guests who delivered acknowledgements were Ash Kalra, City of San Jose Councilmember for District 2, and Gilbert Wong, Vice Mayor for the City of Cupertino.  Several APALA Executive Board members and Bay Area APALA Chapter members from the Alameda, San Francisco, and San Mateo/Santa Clara Chapters were also in attendance to demonstrate their support.


The attendees enjoyed a spread of various catered and potluck food items that represented the diverse Caucus membership, presented cultural displays, and were introduced to the officers of the newly formed National APALA San Mateo/Santa Clara Counties Chapter.  There was also entertainment from traditional Korean drum and fan dancing, Filipino Arnis Martial Arts and folk dance, Tahitian dancing, karaoke singing, ballroom dancing, and an Elvis impersonator.  Overall, it was a great and successful event and the Caucus plans to continue this tradition annually.

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John DelloroOn June 5, 2010, John Delloro, APALA's National President, passed away at the age of 38 in Los Angeles, California.  John dedicated over two decades of his life to fight on behalf of working people, originally as an organizer, later as a labor educator.  John embodied the APALA spirit, graduating from the APALA Organizing Institute, serving as the President of the Los Angeles Chapter, before being elected as one of the youngest individuals to serve as our National President.  The impact that John had on APALA, the labor movement, as well as the broader social justice movement, is reflected in the outpouring of support that we have received on his behalf.   


Memorial services were organized in his memory in Los Angeles and Oakland, California and Washington DC, with plans for a celebration of his life in Seattle, Washington.  At the memorial service in Los Angeles, Congresswoman Judy Chu, Assemblyman Warren Furutani, Assemblyman Mike Eng and Dolores Huerta were some of the individuals that formally paid homage to John's life.  In Washington DC, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker, AFT Secretary-Treasurer Antonia Cortese and SEIU President Mary Kay Henry were among the labor leaders that recognized John's contributions to the national labor movement. 


Congressman Mike Honda, Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, submitted a Statement for the Record on behalf of John, memorializing his name in the annals of Congress.  In California, Assemblyman Mike Eng adjourned session in John's memory and the Los Angeles City Council passed a resolution in his memory.  These formal acknowledgements of John Delloro only capture a segment of John's influence and impact on our work.


John electrified APALA, sparked a movement that brought a wave of young leaders into the organization, initiated an effort to strengthen student and worker solidarity and inspired emerging Asian Pacific American activists across the country to learn more about our history and to contemplate a life building power for working people.  He transformed APALA and fundamentally altered the trajectory of the Asian Pacific American labor movement and we are forever grateful for his contributions and his dedication to advocate on behalf of working families.  It is with a heavy heart that we move forward in John's honor to continue his life work and to honor his memory. 

Together we must continue to fight for Immigration Reform that protects all workers and their families, be they documented or not, to fight for the Dream Act, to help the Obama administration implement Health Care Reform and make changes over the next few years so all workers have access to quality healthcare and that we continue to advocate for and help past the Employee Free Choice Act so all workers can organize into a union without fear of retaliation or losing their job.  It is all of our responsibility to work within our own individual unions to build APALA and grow the labor movement.


John Delloro is survived by his wife Dr. Susan Suh, and his children Mina and Malcolm.  I humbly request all APALA members and allies to consider making a contribution to the John Delloro Memorial Fund to support his family. The address to send donations is:

John Delloro Memorial Fund
LACCD Foundation c/o Rix Bradford Associates
512 N. Larchmont Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90004

Checks should be made payable to LACCD Foundation/John Delloro Memorial


In Solidarity,


Luisa Blue,

APALA First Vice President

Chinese RR workersLaunch: Breaking Ground, Breaking Silence

APALA, in partnership with the UCLA Labor Center, released a report that documents the challenges that Asian Pacific American workers face in exercising their right to organize, and work place abuses endured by low-wage immigrant workers.  The report, Breaking Ground, Breaking Silence, profiles Asian Pacific American workers who testified at the first national Asian Pacific American Workers' Rights Hearing in November 2009 at the AFL-CIO national headquarters in Washington DC.


"This ground breaking report is the first national publication focused on Asian Pacific American workers' rights, " said Luisa Blue, APALA First Vice President.  "Contrary to the model minority myth, Asian Pacific American workers continue to face exploitation and abuse in the workplace."


"I have worked for three years and make $9.50 an hour but the company pays me half compared to the American workers," said Aung Oo, a Karen refugee from Burma who currently lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  "We believe that we should be paid equal to them.  We do the same work."


In the Bay Area, employees of NBC Contractors were forced to fill out two time cards.  "We would not get paid unless we signed the fake time card, the one with lesser hours," said Ricky Lau, a Taiwanese immigrant living in the Bay Area.


"Asian Pacific American workers are breaking silence to ensure that their stories are brought out of the shadows and into the light," said Kent Wong, Director of the UCLA Labor Center.  "These stories include wage theft, dangerous working conditions and threats to workers trying to organize unions."


The report represents an unprecedented expose of the work place violations impacting Asian Pacific American workers throughout the country.  The report also identifies specific recommendations presented by labor scholars and labor leaders to strengthen workers' rights. 


"Our hope is that policy makers, educational institutions, labor unions and advocates will use this document to advocate for the interests and advancement of Asian Pacific American workers," said Amado Uno, APALA Executive Director.


The release of the report coincides with APALA's launch of a national campaign to engage Asian Pacific American workers in public hearings across the country.  The first hearing was held in New York on June 5, 2010.  Subsequent hearings are planned for Las Vegas, Nevada, Seattle, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco, California and Detroit, Michigan.

NY APA Worker RightsNew York Worker Rights Hearing

The APALA New York Chapter convened the first New York Area Asian Pacific American Workers' Rights Hearing on Saturday, June 5, 2010.  As part of a national campaign, the New York area hearing convened policymakers, scholars, and workers to address working conditions and the right to organize for APA workers.  Additionally the hearing debuted APALA's new report, Breaking Ground, Breaking Silence.

"Asian Pacific American workers are an integral part of New York City and we are proud to convene the first citywide hearing dedicated to this segment of the workforce," said Lenny Moy, APALA New York Chapter President.  "Our hope is that these hearings serve to build local capacity to support workers' rights and strengthen worker voices."


Nine Asian Pacific American workers provided testimony focused on the right to organize, labor and community partnerships and the union advantage to close to 200 community activists, academicians and government officials.  Workers spoke about abusive working conditions, wage violations, health and safety concerns and the role of unions to advocate on behalf of workers.


"APALA should be applauded for their successful efforts to build stronger bridges linking the labor movement with Asian Pacific American workers," said Terrence L. Melvin, Secretary-Treasurer of the New York State AFL-CIO.  "We also recommit to actively engage all workers to ensure that the labor movement is inclusive and representative of our diverse workforce."


"APALA has been a growing force within the national labor movement in protecting workers' rights to organize and advocating for the expansion of livable wages and benefits, dignity on the job and a voice in the workplace," said John Liu, New York City Comptroller. 


Hearing panelists included the following: New York City Comptroller John Liu, New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Colleen Gardener, State Director for U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Peter Hatch, New York State AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Terrence Melvin, New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO Political Director Sharada Polavarapu, Professor Tarry Hum, AFSCME DC 37 Treasurer Maf Uddin, SEIU 1199 Secretary-Treasurer Maria Castaneda and IBEW 3 Treasurer Michael Yee.


Co-Sponsoring organizations included: The Joseph S. Murphy Institute, CUNY, the Asian/Asian American Research Institute, CUNY, New York State AFL-CIO, Local 1199 SEIU, Local 3 IBEW, Workers United/SEIU, New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council, Local 6 UNITE HERE, New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, United Federation of Teachers, Local 1407 and Local 375 DC 37 AFSCME, International Union of Operating Engineers and UAW 2121.


NYS Senate Passes Domestic Worker Rights Bill

The New York State Senate passed a historic Domestic Worker rights bill (SB 2311) on June 1, putting the state on the path to being the first in the country with such a bill (pending reconciliation with the Assembly bill (AB 1470) and Governor Paterson's promised signature.) This law will extend core labor rights to a group of workers who are not covered by collective bargaining rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. The far-reaching state legislation includes establishment of fair labor standards, overtime, one day off a week, paid sick days, and collective bargaining rights for domestic workers including caretakers in private homes.  

Since they have been excluded from basic labor protections, domestic workers are one of the most vulnerable groups of workers. Advocacy group Domestic Workers United, one of the main proponents of the bill says that: 99% are foreign-born, 95% are people of color, and 93% are women.

Damayan, an activist group of Filipina domestic workers, testified at the recent APALA NYS Worker Rights Hearing about their experiences not only being underpaid and overworked, but also about sexual harassment in the workplace. When domestic workers have the right to form unions, it will be easier for them to combat all types of workplace abuses.  APALA supports the immediate passage of the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights and views the legislation as an important milestone and model for other states to follow.