APALA E-Newsletter
The APA Voice of Labor  Sept 2010
In This Issue
APALA Leader Named to President's Advisory Commission on AAPIs
Remembering the Manongs
Secretary Solis Headlines Las Vegas Workers' Rights Hearing
Still Holding Out for the DREAM
  APALA Leader Named to President's Advisory Commission on AAPIs

Rozita Lee

APALA congratulates the 17 distinguished leaders who were sworn into the President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders on Sept. 23. In particular, APALA recognizes the work of newly minted Commission Board Member Rozita Lee, who has served as president of the APALA Las Vegas chapter.

The President's Advisory Commission was re-established by executive order on Oct. 14, 2009. The Commission is charged with working to improve the quality of life and opportunities for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders through increased access to, and participation in, Federal programs in which they may be underserved, by providing advice to President Obama and the co-chairs of the White House Initiative, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.

Lee is currently the National Vice Chair of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations. From 1991 to 2010, she was the owner of RVL, Inc., a Polynesian/ Hawaiian Entertainment company. Previously, she served as Vice-President of the Nevada Economic Development Company, as special assistant to former Nevada Governor Bob Miller, and as an administrator of the Diversity Training Program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). From 1981 to 1983, she produced and hosted a television program called SPECTRUM for PBS Television Channel 10 KLVX TV featuring various ethnic groups in Las Vegas. She was the founding Chairwoman of the Board for the Asian Chamber of Commerce.

Convention 2011 save the date
Remembering the Manongs

Daphne Kwok

Gregory Cendana, Interim Deputy Director of APALA, commemorated the 45th anniversary of the Delano, California grape strike that brought together Filipino American and Mexican American agricultural workers to form the legendary United Farm Workers union. 

Cendana said:

"As someone who comes from an immigrant and union family, it is not only appropriate but also necessary for me to share some history and give credit to my manongs who helped paved the way for me to be here today.

This weekend, community members will join Manang Dolores Velasco (wife of Manong Pete Velasco), Johnny Itliong and Larry Itliong III (son and grandson of Manong Larry Itliong, respectively), to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the Delano Grape Strike. (Manong is an Ilocano-a Filipino dialect-term that is given to the first-born male of a nuclear family. Sometimes it also is used for an older male relative or as a term of respect for an elder.)"

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Amado and Anna

I am proud to announce that Amado Uno, APALA Executive Director, has recently accepted a position as Special Assistant to Secretary Hilda Solis in the Office of Public Engagement at the U.S. Department of Labor.  Amado, who has served APALA with exceptional ability, dedication and grace, will be sorely missed.  During the past three years, Amado has played an instrumental role to re-energize our organization through developing innovative programs, increasing membership engagement and building effective partnerships.  We are confident that when he joins the Obama Administration, he will continue to advocate for the rights of all workers.

Additionally, Anna Stuart, APALA Executive Assistant, has accepted a position with the AFL-CIO Field Department.  As the longest serving employee at APALA, Anna's commitment and service to APALA has been exceptional and we are counting on her to remain part of the APALA family as she moves to the AFL-CIO.  We look forward for the opportunity to thank Amado and Anna for all of their hard work and contributions.

I am equally excited to announce that we hired Gregory Allan Cendana as the APALA Interim Deputy Director to assist with the transition.  As many of you know, Greg is the former President of the United States Student Association and longtime ally of APALA.  Greg is incredibly talented and we are enthusiastic that he will be joining the APALA family.

Despite these transitions, we are committed to continuing our critical work.  This past month, Greg played a leadership role to convene the first Asian Pacific American workers' rights hearings in Las Vegas, Nevada where Secretary Solis addressed an audience of over 300 attendees.  Looking ahead, we are planning to host local hearings in Seattle, Oakland, San Jose, Los Angeles and New Orleans, in addition to our Biennial Convention in Oakland from July 20-24, 2011.  I respectfully ask for your continued engagement and support to ensure a successful transition.


Luisa Blue

APALA National President

APALA Solis LVSecretary Solis Headlines Las Vegas Workers' Rights Hearing

The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), the Nevada State AFL-CIO and the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) co-sponsored the first Las Vegas Area Asian Pacific American Workers' Rights Hearing on Saturday, September 25, 2010.  Seven Asian Pacific American workers, representing a broad range of industries and backgrounds testified to a panel comprised of labor and community leaders regarding the right to organize and strengthening labor and community partnerships.  Prior to the worker testimony, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis addressed the 300 attendees demonstrating her commitment to advocate on behalf of Asian Pacific American workers, and all workers.

"Contrary to the model minority myth, segments of the Asian Pacific American workforce still experience abuses, including wage theft, union suppression and employer intimidation," said Rozita Lee, Commissioner for the President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and APALA Las Vegas Chapter President.

"We must do everything we can to bring the American Dream within reach of people who work hard and play by the rules," said Kiran Ahuja, director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.  "As we continue to build the economy, many workers still find themselves short of cash and credit.  We're grateful to hear about the everyday experiences of hard working Americans and the challenges they face."

According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Asian Pacific Americans represent one of the fastest growing segments of the United States workforce, but also among unionized workers.  Furthermore, Nevada is home to one of the fastest growing Asian American and Pacific Islander populations in the country.  Comprising over seven percent of the states population, the Asian American and Pacific Islander population has grown by over 300 percent since 1990.

"As one of the fastest growing segments of the Nevada workforce, it is critical to ensure that Asian Pacific Americans, and all workers, are able to have a voice at work," said Danny Thompson, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Nevada State AFL-CIO.  "The Nevada Labor Movement is proud to stand with the Asian Pacific American community to advocate for the rights of all workers."

Photo credit: Bobby Macabagdal, Asian Journal

dream act rally bannerStill Holding out for the DREAM

In a push for immigration reform before Congress headed home for the midterm elections, the Senate voted on the DREAM Act as an add-on to a defense authorization bill. The largely party-line vote (56-43) on the amendment could not ultimately overcome a filibuster threat by conservatives on September 22.

The bill would have allowed immigrant children who grew up in the U.S. the opportunity to gain citizenship if they commit to two years in the military or college. The Migration Policy Institute estimates that the bill would impact over 2 million young people.

AFT President Randi Weingarten stated:

"College shouldn't be just a dream, it should be a reality for all qualified students, including immigrants. Demographics -- whether it's a student's background or birthplace -- should not determine a student's destiny."

APALA remains in support of the DREAM Act and urges Congress to pass the bill.