Vivian Araullo, Emmy-Award Winning Journalist Turned Organizer, Joins Local 21

Vivian Araullo is a woman of many talents; she was an Emmy-winning journalist, then an Executive Director, before coming to Local 21.

An immigrant, she came to the United States fifteen years ago. She first came to America from the Philippines when she studied in New York as a United Nations fellow. She decided to immigrate to the United States after her fellowship. She landed in New York, then moved to Los Angeles, before finally deciding to settle in the Bay Area.

Most recently, she was part of the highly-publicized campaign to organize Tesla workers through United Auto Workers International.

Vivian is a veteran journalist; she has an Emmy award for producing “The Pilipino Champions of SOMA,” a documentary on the Pilipino community who live in the South of Market neighborhood in San Francisco. “You may be wondering where these Pilipino people are in South of Market,” said Vivian. “A lot of Pilipino living in SOMA’s alleyways. I decided to tell that story,” she said.

Making that Emmy-winning documentary drew her to Pilipino community there. She started doing some communications consultancy with the West Bay Pilipino Multi-Service Agency. The agency focused college prep for underserved youth, after-school programs, and academic enrichment. She was eventually appointed their Executive Director.

While serving as the West Bay Pilipino Multi-Service Agency’s Executive Director, she ended up collaborating with labor allies in San Francisco, like the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA). APALA would attend all the rallies and protests that her agency was a part of, and donate to the cause. Those same labor allies recruited Vivian to be a part of APALA. She became an APALA Chapter Officer as a community member; she went to her first APALA convention in 2015. She met many people in labor who encouraged her to join the movement. “They ‘organized’ me into the labor movement!” mused Vivian.

When asked what her proudest moment was, Vivian said, “An Emmy award is nice, but that actually wasn’t my proudest moment. What I did for Pilipino workers when I was a reporter in Manila had the biggest real-life impact, and that’s my proudest moment.”

When she was a reporter in Manila, she covered labor issues heavily. She was sent to Singapore to cover the trial, and eventual execution, of a Pilipina domestic worker. While she was on the ground broadcasting, people in the Philippines were organizing back home. Her reports galvanized people; the masses held vigils and protests for the woman who was going to be executed. “When I came back, I was so shocked by the uprising that my reporting caused. I was called to testify before a special investigation on the case, which changed Pilipino legislation. There was no law protecting Pilipino workers working overseas before that,” she said. Her work resulted in the passage of the Overseas Pilipino Act of 1995 was passed, establishing a higher standard for migrant workers.

“That was the most impactful thing that I’ve done. There are 4,000 Pilipino who leave their home country every day to work abroad. I’m proud to have triggered a change in law through my work as a reporter.”

Even though Vivian has only recently joined the world of organized labor, it’s clear that Vivian has been fighting and making a difference for workers around the world for a long time. We are humbled by Vivian’s work and are excited to have her on board as a Local 21 Organizer.