APALA E-Newsletter
The APA Voice of Labor  July/Aug 2010
In This Issue
API Leaders Meet with Senate Majority Leader
Daphne Kwok Named Chair of WH Advisory Commission on AAPIs
APA Women's Organizing Institute
Financial Reform at Last
APALA Continues Int'l Solidarity in Taiwan
API Leaders Meet with Senate Majority Leader

AAPI w Reid

APALA was part of a delegation that met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid regarding the nomination of Edward Chen to the U.S. District Court for the Northern California District of California.  If confirmed, Judge Chen would be the first Asian Pacific American to serve on California's northern district bench.  Other representatives at the meeting included: Floyd Mori, Executive Director of the Japanese American Citizens League; Karen Korematsu, Co-Founder of the Fred Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education of the Asian Law Caucus; Omid Harraf, National Federation of Filipino American Associations, and Jean Shiraki, Inouye Fellow at the Japanese American Citizens League.

Save the Date: APA Workers' Rights Hearings in Las Vegas and Michigan

The APALA Las Vegas Chapter and the Nevada State AFL-CIO is organizing the Las Vegas Asian Pacific American Workers' Rights Hearing on Saturday, September 25, 2010 in Henderson, Nevada.  Additionally, the APALA Michigan Chapter, along with several community partners is hosting the Michigan Asian Pacific American Workers' Rights Hearing on Monday, September 27, 2010.  For details or more information, please contact APALA at 202-508-3733. 

Daphne Kwok Named Chair of WH Advisory Commission on AAPIs

Daphne Kwok

APALA congratulates Daphne Kwok, former executive director of the Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA) and of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS), who was recently named the Chair of the White House Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. In October 2009, President Obama signed an executive order to reinstate the White House Advisory Commission and Interagency Working Group to address issues affecting the AAPI community and increase AAPI participation in federal programs. Kwok is currently the executive director of Asians and Pacific Islanders with Disabilities of California.

White House Initiative on Asian American and Pacific Islanders Executive Director Kiran Ahuja stated, "Daphne knows what services and protections Asian American and Pacific Islanders need and what resources they can bring to the table to build a strong collaboration with the Obama Administration.  Together, we're going to work hard to let all Asian American and Pacific Islanders know the resources the Administration has available to help improve their everyday lives."

Kwok's twenty years of experience serving the AAPI community include board duties for APIA Vote, National Japanese American Memorial Foundation, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, National Coalition of Asian Pacific American Community Development and the Asian Pacific American Caucus of the American Political Science Association. She is also a Founding Board Member of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund.

As Chair, Kwok will work with the White House Initiative to increase public- and private-sector collaboration and community involvement on issues critical to the AAPI community including education opportunities, housing, jobs, employment issues and health disparities.

APALA Executive Director Amado Uno said, "I have the highest praise for Daphne's leadership within the community and for her tireless work on behalf of AAPIs. The APALA family and I look forward to continuing to work closely with her in her new capacity." 

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Luisa Blue

It is with a humble heart that I step forward once again to lead APALA.  Matt Finucane will now serve as APALA's First Vice-President.  Finally, after consultation with the national officers, and pursuant to the APALA Constitution, I am proud to appoint Levin Sy as the APALA Second Vice President, a vacancy created by the tragic passing of our leader and friend John Delloro.


The memorial services held in John's honor were touching.  Union leaders, elected officials, community leaders and student activists highlighted the wonderful work he did as a union organizer, community leader and labor educator.  This has been a very difficult time for APALA and I want to express my appreciation for the outpouring of support that we received on behalf of Brother John Delloro.


I am pleased that Brother Levin Sy has agreed to accept this leadership position.  Similar to John, Levin was a student activist and a political organizer prior to joining the staff of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) Local 20, which represents hundreds of Asian Pacific American workers in the San Francisco Bay Area.  He is a delegate with the San Francisco Central Labor Council, an officer with the Alameda County chapter and is providing extensive leadership to plan the APALA National Convention next year in Oakland, California. 


Continuing John's legacy to support multi-generational leadership within the labor movement, we have incorporated more young workers and students.  Our chapters are mobilizing from coast to coast to organize APA workers' rights hearings to bring APA workers' untold stories into the limelight.  And our voices are being heard by decision-makers from local officials to the Senate Majority Leader. 


Luisa Blue

APALA National President

Women's OIAsian Pacific American Women's Organizing Insitute

The Center for Economic and Policy Research recently published a briefing entitled "Asian Pacific American Women Workers and Unions."The report found that immigrants comprised a large share of unionized APA women.  Additionally, the report also found that APA women were in a union or represented by a union at their workplace at a rate that mirrors APA men.  However, there are few leadership development and organizing opportunities targeting this population. 


As a result, APALA and the Orange County Labor Federation, with generous financial support provided by the Berger Marks Foundation, hosted the first APALA Women's Organizing Institute from August 6-8, 2010 in Orange, California.  Over 30 participants attended the intense, three-day training program to acquire the skills necessary to become effective union organizers.  Participants were exposed to a range of techniques such as role-play exercises, public speaking, interactive workshops, panel discussions and a worker-related action.


"This was an amazing experience," said Denise Tan Agatep, one of the program participants.  "I am so inspired after attending the first APALA Women's Organizing Institute and so proud of the work APALA is doing.  I highly recommend this training for any API woman who is passionate about social justice."


The program was such a success that participants created an APALA Orange County pre-chapter, which will be housed out of the Orange County Labor Federation.  APALA would like to formally thank IBEW Local 441 for the use of their space, AFMSCME/UDWA, SEIU Local 521 and SEIU Local 721 for their assistance to provide trainers and participants for the program.

Financial Reform at Last

On July 21, 2010, President Obama signed a monumental bill that calls for sweeping reform of the financial services industry. This followed an overwhelming Senate vote, 60-39 in favor of the legislation.  Here are some of the major provisions:

-The creation of a consumer financial protection bureau within the Federal Reserve, an actual government watchdog that is designed to protect homeowners and everyday investors from losing everything. This agency will enforce existing consumer-oriented regulations that apply to big financial firms, mortgage-related businesses, and payday and student lenders. It will also ensure that the fine print on financial services is clear and accurate, and will maintain a single toll-free hotline for consumers to report possibly deceptive practices.

-Breaking up banks before they get "too big to fail": The FDIC will have the authority to dismantle troubled financial firms whose collapse might pull down other companies.

-Increased regulation: The bill restrains banks from trading in financial markets with their own funds and bans proprietary trading. They will only be able to invest up to 3 percent of their capital in hedge and private equity investment instruments, and derivatives swaps will face comprehensive regulation for the first time.

-Mortgage reform: Banks and other lenders have to more closely review mortgage applicants to ensure their solvency. Additionally, financial companies that sell off mortgages have to keep at least 5 percent of these instruments to prevent banks from simply making bad loan and selling them to outside investors.

These changes, amongst others, are designed to prevent a financial crisis, and to ensure that banks have a stake and take responsibility for risky investments made with their customers' money.

Taiwan SolidarityAPALA Continues Int'l Solidarity in Taiwan

Hundreds of thousands of workers from countries all over Asia migrate to other Asian countries to find work.  These workers have many reasons for migrating.  Some do it to live in another country, some do it to learn new skills sets, some do it out of curiosity, but most do it because of the economic hardships they face in their own countries.  The worldwide economic crisis has had a deep impact on workers all over Asia and many are forced to go outside of their homeland to work to help their families.


There are approximately 360,000 migrant workers working today in Taiwan.  For most workers it is a land where they can enjoy opportunities to prosper in good paying jobs.  For Vietnamese, Indonesian, Thai and Pilipino migrant workers the lure of higher wages entices them to leave their families and homelands behind.  But this is not the case for all migrant workers.


When the American Center for International Labor Solidarity, better known as the Solidarity Center, wanted to make a trip there to work with migrant workers, they approached APALA for technical assistance for an organizing training specifically for Vietnamese migrants.  In Asia, the Solidarity Center helps workers build strong unions to defend their basic rights at home and abroad, escape abuse and forced labor, and hold governments accountable for their economicsecurity.  This mission makes the Solidarity Center and APALA natural partners. 


On July 26, 2010, Maria Somma, former APALA President and currently a union organizer with the United Steelworkers (USW) and an APALA National Board member accompanied Willy Balawala, a Program Officer working in the Solidarity Center's Indonesian officer and Tim Ryan, the Regional Program Director for Asia and Europe, to Taiwan to work with Vietnamese migrant workers.  The three-day training, coordinated with the Vietnamese Migrant Workers and Brides Office locally, included leadership development, public speaking, issues identification and strategic planning.   Taiwan's labor law has recently been changed to allow migrant workers the right to unionize and there was a great deal of interest in learning how to utilize the new law to help the workers improve their working conditions.


While there they also met with Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation, Taiwan International Worker's Association, Migrante International, Coalition To Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia, Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions, and various other national Union Officials.  There is much work to be done to assist workers in Taiwan and there is also much to be learned from workers there.  Hopefully, this will be the first of many such trips where we can all partner together to work towards improving workers' lives both in Asia and in the US.