Asian Pacific American Labor Studies
Asian American Studies 197B; class ticket number: 121-856-200
Mondays, 4:00 – 6:50 p.m.
Bunche 2168


Asian American Studies 197B
Spring Quarter 2002

Final Community Internship Reports
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance - Public Hearing on Labor Issues by Esther Cho and Eleanor Choi

Before this quarter we knew a very limited amount about APALA. We will discuss briefly what we have learned about APALA. We have learned this quarter that APALA, in Los Angeles is the largest chapter out of APALA. It assists in civil rights, immigrant rights issues, and workers rights. It is the most progressive constituency group. The theme as John Delloro states is "Making Waves." Currently, the Asian Pacific Immigrant community has become a political force that has made progress in making changes. The Asian Pacific Immigrant community in Los Angeles is prevalent and is the largest nationwide. This becomes vital in ensuring the rights of these communities.

On May 17, 2002 a public hearing was held at the Monterey Park City Hall. This event was symbolic for the Asian Pacific American Immigrant community because it was the first hearing held over the issues of Asian Pacific American labor. It was also the first big wave of public appearances for our community. The hearing included two panels of speakers. The first panel included speakers from various organizations, such as Kent Wong and Judy Chu. In the second panel, we had a few testimonies from immigrant workers which were very compelling. Although the event was not as well supported as we wanted it to be, we feel that the event was a breaking point for our community.

Some of our responsibilities for this internship involved the media turn out, both mainstream media and other ethnic local media, as well as the turn out of the APALA members. We called Korean media contacts and stressed the importance of covering the story on the event. We also called the APALA members, encouraging them to come out to support the Asian Pacific American workers in their efforts to organize and fight for a living wage and workers rights. It was a little difficult because the event took place on a Friday around 10:00 am which is the time that people are usually at work.

It was during the orientation that John Delloro asked each and every individual student what they wanted to attain from the internship. We answered that we wanted to do some kind of an art project that would be different and shed light on the event. So we offered to do a quilt with several elementary school students.

On May 13, 2002, we went to Wilton Place Elementary School to work with Tony Osumiís third grade class. We started by leading a discussion with the students about Asian American labor issues. It was enlightening to see that these elementary school students had already been educated on several of the issues prevalent in the Asian American community, such as the inexcusable conditions that the Assi market workers are currently facing.

Most of the students’ initial responses were that the workers are being treated unfairly. We had them express these feelings onto patches of cloths. Some drew pictures of people working together and wrote messages such as "Teamwork," "Fight for your rights," and "We want unions." Others wrote words of support and encouragement, such as "You Can Do It!" in English, Spanish, and Korean. After the students finished making two sets of their artwork, we put their work together in two different pieces, and framed both of them. One was presented at the May 17th hearing, and the other is hanging in Tony Osumi’s class. We feel that this art project was a success, and we are considering working with John Delloro and Tony Osumi on future art projects for the APALA town hall.

During the course of this internship, we both learned that although labor issues in the Asian American community is a clear matter of, as the students stated, "people being treated unfairly," it is difficult to gather support from the community. Even the reporters from the media were hesitant to give us a definite "yes" about coming, both because of their issues with organizations such as the Korean Immigrant Workers Advocates, and because they weren’t sure if a "bigger" story would come up. From this, we learned that labor issues, unfortunately, aren’t "sexy" or "big" enough of an issue to "sell" in our community. We hope that in the future the prevalence of Asian American Immigrant rights will not be ignored and will be covered more extensively.







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