Despite a vibrant history that includes Chinese railroad workers, striking Hawaiian plantation workers, Japanese farm workers, Filipino cannery workers and Thai garment workers, Asian Pacific Americas have been an integral, if often overlooked, segment of the American labor movement. Furthermore, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Asian Pacific Americans represent the fastest growing segment of the American workforce, as well as unionized workers. These demographic shifts necessitate greater awareness and attention to the nation’s 700,000 APA union members.
Research has shown that all workers benefit from the “Union Advantage.” Specifically, Asian Pacific Americans that are union members earn more, are more likely to have an employer provided pension and are more likely to have employer provided health insurance, compared to their non-union counterparts.
- Wages – Asian Pacific American unionized workers earn about 9 percent, or $2.00 per hour more than their non-union counterparts;
- Employer provided pension – Asian Pacific American unionized workers are 25 percent more likely to have an employer provided pension than their non-union counterparts;
- Employer provided health insurance – Asian Pacific American unionized workers are 19 percent more likely to have employer provided health insurance than non-union counterparts.
THE NEED FOR APA UNION ORGANIZERS
Effective organizing builds power for workers by securing fair wages and benefits, and ensures that all workers have dignity in their jobs and a voice at work. Unscrupulous employers spend significant resources to discourage workers from forming unions, disproportionately targeting and harassing Asian Pacific American workers in low-wage industries. Furthermore, bargaining units with a majority of Asian Pacific American workers have lower win rates than many other bargaining units. A majority of Asian Pacific American workers are foreign born, with many of them immigrating to the United States within the past give years. Thus, it is critical to ensure that there is an analysis and strategy to effectively engage this segment of the workforce.
Research has demonstrated that the presence of a union organizer that speaks an Asian language greatly increases the win rate for bargaining units with a majority of Asian Pacific American workers. Unfortunately, many bargaining units with a majority of Asian Pacific American workers still lack this basic ingredient.More Research on APA Union Organizing
APALA, THE PIPELINE FOR APA UNION ORGANIZERS
To address this critical need within the broader Asian Pacific American community, APALA created the Organizing Institute, which has trained the next generation of Asian Pacific American union organizers. Since 1992, APALA has sponsored a series of intensive three-day training programs that has successfully multiplied the number of Asian Pacific American union organizers, increased the number of multilingual organizers and facilitated the ability for effective community engagement. In 2009, APALA had a women's organizing institute funded through the Berger-Mark's Foundation.
Following the APALA Organizing Institute, APALA has diversified its efforts in empowering APA union members through its Asian Pacific American Union Leadership School (APAULS) and its recent APALA Women’s Organizing Institute.