July 28, 2011
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance Hosts its Largest and Liveliest Convention Ever
Unprecedented numbers of union members and youth packed the Oakland Convention Center to engage with labor issues facing the APA community
Oakland, California -- Hundreds of workers, youth, and activists rose to their feet to welcome Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis who opened APALA’s 3-day 11th biennial convention on July 22, 2011. Solis spoke of the employment crisis and the recovery of back wages for victims of wage theft, and was met with a standing ovation for her strong support for the DREAM Act. The convention’s powerfhouse lineup of speakers also included AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler, AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Lee Saunders, and SEIU President Mary Kay Henry.
In accordance with the theme, "Generations United: Our Jobs, Our Rights, Our Future!" the convention successfully outreached to 200 young leaders. Fiery testimonials were given by student activists and DREAMers Ju Hong and David Cho, as well as Pulitzer-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who all shared their experience as undocumented immigrants and highlighted immigration as a key issue in the APA labor movement.
The convention attendees joined with hundreds of other local union and community members for Friday’s march through downtown Oakland which made a stop in front of Wells Fargo to protest predatory lending practices and finally ended at Oakland City Hall where over 1700 people rallied for workers’ and immigrant rights and the fight for good jobs, and decried budget cuts to vital services. Other plenary sessions focused on the economic climate for APAs and current union organizing campaigns, while uplifting the voices of APA rank and file workers.
APALA honored labor and community leaders during the sold-out gala dinner, and the grand ballroom was at-capacity with over twenty APA elected officials including Congressman Mike Honda, Mayor Jean Quan and State Controller John Chiang joining convention goers for a reception and dinner Saturday evening.
The convention closed Sunday afternoon with the election of new board members and APALA national officers. The “Generations Rising Slate” with Johanna Hester (AFSCME) as president, Matthew Finucane (NEA) as 1st Vice President, Van Ngyuen (SEIU) as 2nd Vice President, Tracy Lai (AFT) as Secretary, and Michael Yee (IBEW) as Treasurer was confirmed as the new officers. Incoming president Johanna Hester, Director of Organizing and Field Services at UDW, expressed her enthusiasm for the new slate, “I’m looking forward to working alongside these amazing activists for the next two years; the new officers and I are excited to lead the development of APALA into a strong, sustainable, multi-generational alliance.”
This year, APALA's national convention:
- Featured Obama Administration officials and distinguished guests, including:
- U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis
- AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler
- AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Lee Saunders
- SEIU President Mary Kay Henry
- Congressman Mike Honda
- Dialogues with elected officials, labor, community, and young leaders on the economy, immigration, education, and worker solidarity
- United to fight against right-wing attacks with a labor march around Oakland
- Hosted a networking and job fair with career and internship opportunities in the labor, APA, and progressive movement
- Paired young leaders with labor organizers/workers through the launch of APALA's Generations United Mentorship
- Celebrated Asian Pacific American labor and community leaders with a reception honoring elected officials, and a Gala Dinner to present the Art Takei, Vincent Foo, and Philip Vera Cruz Awards.
For more information and photos from the events: