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


Course Description:

This course is a continuation of AAS 197A in Winter Quarter 2002, although enrollment is not based on taking the previous course. The Spring Quarter course focuses on student internships with community-based labor projects.

Both historically and today, grassroots labor struggles by immigrant workers are central to defining the Asian Pacific American experience. Immigrant labor struggles bring to the forefront issues of human rights, interethnic and interracial alliances, racism and gender oppression, the impact of globalization, and the ongoing efforts to expand democracy in America. However, despite the central significance of labor struggles, the curriculum in Asian American Studies has virtually no classes focusing on labor.

This class addresses this vacuum and examines Asian Pacific American labor, both historically and today. Among historical issues to be covered are the exclusion of Asian immigrant workers from mainstream labor unions, the resulting reliance of immigrant workers on community-based strategies for fighting for workplace rights, and the close connection between labor organizing and other community movements such as support for independence of former homelands from colonialism, women’s rights, and movements for human rights. Among contemporary issues to be covered are current organizing campaigns by low-income immigrants in the garment and restaurant industries, the ways these community-based labor struggles are redefining labor organizing strategies in mainstream unions, and the impact of labor struggles and immigrant worker centers on reshaping politics in Asian Pacific American communities.

This class emphasizes the key role that Asian Pacific American students can play in supporting labor struggles of low-income immigrants. This class provides students with hands-on activist training to help them confront class polarization, which increasingly is becoming a major feature of Asian Pacific American communities. Students will receive training in ways that they can use campus resources, including their academic skills, to support immigrant labor struggles.

This class was initiated by Rena Wong, a recent UCLA graduate who is now working as a union organizer in the San Francisco Bay Area.








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