APALA E-Newsletter
The APA Voice of LaborFebruary 2012
In This Issue
DOL Holds NJ APA summit
Featured Mentorship Pair
APALA Celebrates CLEAN Carwash Victories
Legislative Update
NYU-Poly Graduate Employees Petition for Union Rights
DOL Holds APA Summit in NJ

The U.S. Department of Labor will host a free summit on Tuesday, Feb. 28, in Palisades Park to provide AAPI workers in and around northern New Jersey with vital information about the minimum wage and overtime protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act and workplace safety and health protections afforded by the Occupational Safety and Health Act.


Korean, Chinese and Hindi-speaking representatives from the department's Wage and Hour Division and Occupational Safety and Health Administration will be on-site to answer questions and offer information relevant to all industries.   


The event is Feb. 28, at the Palisades Park Library on 

257 2nd St.,  

Palisades Park, N.J. 07650

from 5:30 - 7:30pm.

 Mentorship Pair 


Alex Tsao (analyst) and Kenzo Shibata (CTU Editor, above) are paired through APALA's John Delloro Mentorship program in Chicago.  


Alex found out about APALA through his OCA internship and says, "I hope to learn more about unions, especially how teachers' union work and why having a union is important.  I'm also  interested in participating in some organizing and learning what I can do to help.  In addition, I'd like see what being an educator is like and gain some career insight as this could be possible career path for me."


Kenzo became involved in the labor movement as a rank-and-file teacher. He is on a leave of absence from teaching to work as Member Communications Coordinator for the Chicago Teachers Union. He said, "I wanted to participate in the mentorship program to promote Asian American leadership in the labor movement."

APALA Celebrates CLEAN Carwash Victories

APALA celebrates the recent victories by workers with the CLEAN carwash campaign in Los Angeles, where the local APALA chapter has supported the organizing work. The new members of the Steelworkers negotiated contracts including a small pay increase (to $8.16 an hour), a guarantee that they will be given breaks, and that they will be provided with additional safety training and safety equipment. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka joined the workers at a celebratory press conference.  

"Rich Trumka's visit to California signals a big change in the leadership of the American labor movement with regards to attitudes toward immigrant labor," said Kent Wong, director of the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education, and founding APALA President. "It is in the strategic interests of unions to align with the immigrant workforce." Media coverage included this article in the Korean press.    

Public Comment on Homecare Workers 


Did you know that agencies who employ homecare workers aren't required to pay overtime or minimum wage? Homecare workers take care of loved ones when they grow old or get sick. The work can be strenuous and tiring. You can encourage the Department of Labor to require homecare agencies to pay their workers properly by signing this petition.  

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This month we saw reports that 243,000 new jobs were created in January and the unemployment rate fell to 8.3%, the lowest in 3 years. The economy has added jobs for the 16th month in a row and the number of unemployed fell to 12.7 million-however, long-term unemployment remains stubbornly high and this is no different for Asian Pacific Americans. There is still much work to do.


APALA recognizes the need to keep focus on creating jobs and repairing our economy so it works for the 99%--not just the top 1%. It's time for politicians to put extreme ideology aside and get to work doing what they were elected to do.


Politicians give corporate CEOs tax breaks while those same CEOs outsource jobs and cut wages and benefits for working people. It's time for everyone to work toward an economy that works for all. We continue to work with the AFL-CIO on the America Wants to Work Campaign and will continue to be fierce advocates to ensure policymakers act decisively to build momentum and support continued job growth.


This week, the APALA Chapter of Alameda County shared a huge victory that after four months to resolve an unjustified arrest and thousands of petitions were signed in support, all charges against Mara Randle were dropped. In October, Mara was beaten and arrested by Oakland Police Department Officers while peacefully participating in an Occupy Oakland rally.


Chapter President Kim Geron said, "Mara did not stand alone in her fight against an unfair arrest and prosecution. Solidarity from APALA, the Alameda Labor Council and many unions helped win justice for Mara. We congratulate Mara and thank our Labor community for standing with Mara to win justice today. "


APALA continues to be at the forefront of strengthening community and labor partnerships, coordinating APA civic engagement and developing the next generation of organizers & activists dedicated to advancing social and economic justice.


It's not too late to become a member and help us celebrate our 20th birthday this year. Without you and your support, we would not have made it this far. Every Member Counts!


In solidarity,  


Johanna Hester

APALA National President


AAPIs Want to Work! Legislative Update


Although Congress passed  H.R. 3630, which extends  unemployment benefits, the bill actually reduces the number of weeks of unemployment benefits available for unemployed workers and penalizes federal employees by forcing them to pay more into their pensions. The bill reduces the maximum number of weeks jobseeking workers are eligible for UI benefits from 99 to 73, and allows states to require drug testing for UI recipients.   


On top of the reduction of unemployment insurance benefits at the federal level that will occur under H.R. 3630, certain state legislatures including the Georgia Senate are trying to cut UI benefits from 26 weeks to as little as 12 to 20 weeks.

One of the other job creation bills is the transportation bill, which won't be reexamined until after recess due to bipartisan dispproval of certain measures. The current transportation reauthorization stop-gap measure expires March 31, and provides necessary funding for mass public transit and repairs for roads and bridges. Currently the House version of the bill would stop the 30 year practice of putting aside 20 percent of the bill for public transit, a measure which has been criticized by Democrats and Republicans.

NYU-Poly Graduate Employees File for a Union, Petition for Union Rights   
Graduate students at NYU-Polytechnic filed a petition in 2011 to form a union with the UAW for scientists and engineers. In addition to concerns about wages, health insurance and job security, scientific and technical workers at NYU-Poly want a stronger say in establishing safe practices in laboratories, where they frequently work with hazardous chemicals.


At NYU, which is now NYU-Poly's parent institution, members of UAW Local 2110 negotiated the first-ever collective bargaining agreement for private sector grad student assistants in 2002.  Contract talks followed a unanimous 2000 NLRB decision which found that "the graduate assistants are employees."


In 2004, a narrow majority of Republican appointees to the NLRB overturned precedent and overruled the 2000 decision. NYU has refused to negotiate ever since -- but NYU TAs and RAs have repeatedly shown majority support for their union, most recently verified in April 2010 by the American Arbitration Association.   


In May 2010, NYU TAs and RAs filed a new petition for union recognition; the NLRB found "compelling reasons for reconsideration," and re-opened the case.  As a result, the New York regional director of the NLRB held a full hearing on the bargaining rights of graduate assistants, which concluded in April. NYU graduate employees came to the NLRB in early Feb 2012 to petition for their right to form unions.   


NYU Poly Yang HuYang Hu is a PhD student employee in Chemical and Biological Engineering Department at NYU-Poly. He stated, "We are not just students, we are also employees and workers at the university. A majority of the graduate student workers at NYU-Poly are international students. Whether we are international students or U.S. citizens, we have a right to join together and form a union. I am active with our UAW union because I want to make sure all graduate student workers at NYU-Poly are treated fairly and have a voice at work."