Local 21 members JR Santos and Fraces Hsieh, and staffers Amihan Makayan, Kat General, and Jennifer Li went to the APALA (Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO) conference in Anaheim, California in August.
APALA is the first and only national organization of Asian American workers dedicated to the training, empowerment, and leadership of AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islanders) within the labor movement.
Highlights of the conference included two actions, including a solidarity march and vigil for those who were killed and injured during the violent KKK and Neo-Nazi demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia. Speakers included Women’s March Co-Chair Linda Sarsour, California State Treasurer John Chiang, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre, and AFSCME President Lee Saunders.
Linda Sarsour gave rousing speech. “They say we are unpatriotic. But dissent is the highest form of patriotism. If you truly love your country, you will push your country to be better.”
JR Santos, Vice President of Local 21 Accountants and Auditors chapter, reflected on the empowering experience, “With a political atmosphere that seems scary to watch every day, the APALA convention was an inspiring place to be.
“It was very empowering to see other API (Asian Pacific Islander) union members and community leaders from across the nation discuss our history in the labor movement, challenge our immigrant narrative and defend immigrant rights, and rise up to fight issues like national ‘right to work’ legislation.
“This was an eye-opening experience that I can take back to our Local 21 members. The topics discussed are not just API issues- they are issues that affect people of all backgrounds in our community.”
Frances Hsieh, of Local 21’s Administrative Analysts & Personnel Professionals chapter, said, “Despite going to many APALA events in the Bay Area over the years, this was my first time at the convention. It not only inspired me to connect more deeply with other AAPIs in the labor movement, I’m jazzed about getting more AAPI employees active with Local 21. It’s time we organized for a greater voice in our union, and get our union more active in the communities and issues we care about. Sisters and Brothers, let’s build the union we want to be!”
As a union, Local 21 has a large API population. We encourage our members to go to the next APALA convention to develop leadership skills, connect with other APIs in labor, and get more involved with Local 21!