APALA E-Newsletter
The APA Voice of Labor Oct 2010
In This Issue
Remember to Early Vote!
APALA Seeking Associate Dir.
Meet an APALA Member: MD Del. Kris Valderrama
Hearing on Asian Pacific American Employment Exposes Concerns
  Remember to Early Vote!

APALA encourages its members and allies to early vote if the state permits. To see if your state has early voting, check here. Otherwise, make sure to vote Tuesday, November 2. Remember - every vote counts!
Convention 2011 save the date
APALA Seeking Associate Dir.

APALA is searching for an Associate Director! We are looking for dynamic, detail oriented and experienced candidates who can fulfill the job description and work tirelessly to ensure that the over 600,000 APA workers who have joined unions receive better pay, improved benefits, dignity on the job, and a voice in the workplace. For details and information on how to apply, click here.

Meet an APALA Member: MD Del. Kris Valderrama

Kris Valderrama

Kris Valderrama was elected Maryland Delegate from Prince George's County in 2006. But even before that, she was involved with the Asian Pacific American community as a member of APALA and as a staffer in the Public Affairs Department of AFSCME.

Valderrama, a life-long resident of Prince George's County, has always been engaged with her community. Growing up the daughter of David Valderrama, also a former Maryland legislator, she caught the politics bug at a young age.

In addition to labor, she has also been involved with the NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Young Democrats of Maryland, and St. Columba Church.

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Please join me in welcoming Gregory Allan Cendana as the next Executive Director.   Brother Cendana joins us at a time when the labor movement and APALA are increasingly focused on outreach to students and young workers.  With his past experience as President of the United States Student Association (USSA), he will take APALA's work to new heights and continue to strengthen student and worker alliances.

While at USSA, Greg helped build chapters across the country, increased the budget of the organization, established strong community partnerships, highlighted worker struggles, and played an integral role in the passage of the Student Aid & Fiscal Responsibility Act and Healthcare & Education Reconciliation Act.

Furthermore, Greg comes from an immigrant & union family.  He is grounded with strong values that are in line with our mission & vision and has a proven track record of success.  We are excited about his new role and want to thank you for your continued involvement and support during this transition.

Moving ahead, APALA chapters are taking the lead in engaging Asian Pacific Americans in the 2010 midterm elections through our Every Vote Counts political program.  Remember to vote on November 2nd as our community is going to have a decisive role in many local and statewide races.  Later in November, the National Executive Board will meet in Washington, D.C. to reflect on the year and begin planning for 2011.


Luisa Blue

APALA National President

MI Worker Rights HearingHearing on Asian Pacific American Employment Exposes Concerns


On September 27, the Detroit APALA chapter held a widely attended hearing on Asian Pacific American workers' rights issues and the model minority stereotype. Their experiences with discrimination  certainly fit the  faced by many other people of color and other groups often targeted for different treatment.

"Unfortunately, many Asian Pacific Americans find themselves being subjected to various forms of discrimination and harassment," said Ying Gee of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance.  "The problem is many of us have a tendency to either not speak up to defend our selves or not bring the problem to the right people."


The hearing was designed as an opportunity to hear from the public regarding employment related issues, especially those suffered by members of the Asian Pacific American community.  Testimonial examples include one woman who alleged her salary was drastically reduced after decades on the job, leaving her no option but to quit.  Because she was the only Asian American at that job, and the only person taking a large salary cut, she was left to wonder if her race was the cause.

Another worker testified:

The supervisor would yell at me.  One time the supervisor hit me on the top of my head with a gas pipe.  I am angry and hurt that I got fired in 2004 and the union brought me back to work under the last chance agreement.  Then in 2007, I was fired because I was accused of not putting olives in the salad, when that was not my responsibility.     

Several other testimonies related to incidents of discrimination and harassment based on stereotypes of Asian women, verbally mocking Asian languages or being spat upon by total strangers. 

"My heart truly goes out to everyone who provided testimony here tonight because of what you have suffered through," added H. Sook Wilkinson, Ph.D., chair of the Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission within the state Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth.  "Our Commission is designed to serve as a bridge between the community and state government or other entities which could address some of these issues.  The Commission may not have all the answers, but if contacted we try our best to assist or direct people to the right place."


Mark Gaffney, President, Michigan State AFL-CIO said "thank you for having the courage to share your stories with the panel today. Labor has always been at the forefront in fighting for social justice for all workers regardless of their race, sex, gender, nationality, disability, religion and your stories highlighted the urgency for labor to continue its work to organize the unorganized."  


Both the Department of Civil Rights and the EEOC had staff on hand to hear testimony and get a better sense of any issues that may be best addressed outside of individual complaints. 

"It was certainly an eye opening experience for me," said Daniel Krichbaum, Ph.D., Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.  "We know that in order for Michigan to move forward, all of our state must be involved in that movement.  A rising tide cannot lift all boats if the anchors of segregation and discrimination are still firmly in place." 

The testimony collected during the hearing will be used as part of a national report on employment discrimination against Asian Pacific Americans being issued by the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO.  Other organizations involved in this effort include the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, Michigan Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission, Reform Immigration for America, Michigan AFL-CIO and Michigan Department of Civil Rights.