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
Koreatown Market Workers Justice Campaign - Community-based Work Team by Paul Chung, Vi Le, James Roh, and Sanghee Yoon

Through our discussions with Liz and other KIWA employees, we learned that the owners of the Assi market have been undertaking unfair labor practices towards their hard working employees. The members of our group found it truly inhumane how these unbelievably rich businessmen refused to give fair wages, overtime pay, or even breaks after grueling six to eight hour shifts! Truly, the Assi workers needed a union to protect their interests because they could not themselves (as many are undocumented or cannot speak the language). Internship students were involved in various activities in support of immigrant rights and more specifically the Market Worker’s Campaign. Activities included acting as security at the May 1st march, participating in a consumer delegation, writing editorials to various Korean and English language newspapers and flyering weekly at the Assi Market. The consumer delegation on May 11 was an interesting strategy used by KIWA to call attention to the struggles of the Assi workers. Student interns and community supporters grouped in pairs and went to Assi Market as customers and tried to hold all of the cash register lines as long as we could by asking cashers questions concerning the Immigrant Workers Union. Through this action, we wanted to inform Assi customers about Assi’s unfair labor practice. Editorials were also written in order to publicize the worker’s struggle and effort to unionize. Student interns wrote editorials in order to inform the public of the labor dispute occurring at the Assi Market.

However, the off-campus KIWA group’s main project this quarter was the planning and implementation of a protest that took part at the Assi Market located on 8th and Hobart on June 7, 2002. The responsibilities for the June 7 Assi Protest were divided between the internship students. Paul took on the responsibility of organizing security, James handled turn out for the event, Sanghee was in charge of logistics, and Vi was responsible for the program on the day of the protest. However, all internship students assisted each other in carrying on various responsibilities and were also aided by other students who were also interning at KIWA. The planning of the June 7 protest began with a group meeting in which Liz trained the student interns on how to organize an action. The components of an action that Liz discussed included the kind of tone the action should have, outreach, turnout, logistics, program and evaluation. Following this meeting a date was chosen and outreach efforts began.

Outreach efforts for the June 7 protest consisted of making two flyers, one for community supporters and one targeted towards UCLA students, for the event and mailing it out to a list of approximately 250 community supporters. James and Phil concentrated on outreach and turnout and worked hard to send out mass e-mails to campus organizations whom we thought would sympathize with the worker’s campaign. Groups on campus that were targeted included MEChA, CAPSA, USAS, Environmental Coalition, KSA and Raza Womyn. Other student interns helped James and Phil by trying to call leaders of these organizations. However, despite our outreach efforts, student turnout on the day of the protest was not as strong as we all had hoped. James found turnout to be quite a hard task, especially in regards to students. Our group had difficulty scheduling the protest because we had to not only work with our own schedules, but also work with KIWA"S schedule and the schedule of the workers. For the purposes of student turnout the scheduling of the protest was detrimental in that it was the Friday before finals and the night of game 2 of the NBA finals. Therefore, not as many students attended the protest as our group had hoped for. However, community supporter and the workers of the market brought out significant amounts of people, so the turnout was still better than we had hoped.

Despite the lack of student turn out as a group we were proud of what we accomplished this quarter. We were disappointed at the lack of student turnout, however in the end everything seemed to work out just fine. Paul, who was in charge of security, was happy that the protest was uneventful and nothing went wrong. Vi and Sanghee who were both reluctant to speak at first were honored that they were able to participate in the program during the day of the protest. The workers and KIWA seemed to truly appreciate our work and for this reason we felt that we did a good job.

To conclude, we all feel that we have learned much from our few weeks at KIWA and are all grateful that we were given this opportunity to learn about workers and community organizing. Many of us want to pursue community activism as a career in our lives, so taking this course gave us an opportunity to see the world of activism and work as organizers and with organizers. As a group we were honored that we were able to help the workers, but feel that the workers and KIWA also helped us learn more about ourselves and the importance of community activism.







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