The APALA Caucus of Local 521 proudly represented members at the 13th Biennial APALA National Convention from August 13 to August 16 in San Diego, CA. APALA stands for Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, which is the first and only national organization of Asian Pacific American union members.
The four day event gathered Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) union members, workers, and allies around the theme of, “Organizing in Solidarity, Building One Vision Forward,” to discuss economic and political issues affecting AAPI workers and coalition building with other communities of color.
Some of the issues highlighted during the convention included immigration reform for undocumented youth, fighting corporate greed, planning the future of labor movement, mass incarceration and building partnerships with other organizations advancing the rights of people of color.
“I learned that community partnerships with other groups fighting for workers rights, immigrant rights, and racial equity is very important to making bigger changes for AAPIs in the future.” – Cecilia Tatum, Alternate Secretary/Treasurer, APALA Fresno
APALA Caucus members also had the opportunity to organize with members of other SEIU locals to relaunch the SEIU AAPI Caucus. A major objective for the AAPI Caucus is to harness the AAPI vote. There are roughly 9 million AAPI eligible voters, who can help win on progressive agendas that uplift all communities of color such as healthcare reform, good jobs, immigration reform and economic equality.
“It is important for AAPIs to work together for the future of our families. We have the numbers, we need to raise our voices as a community.” – Myrna Bravo, Social & Economic Justice Coordinator, APALA San Mateo and Santa Clara
The well-attended convention was also a demonstration of growing AAPI union density. The rate of AAPIs in unions increased by 10.4% last year while union membership among all other minority groups decreased. Members showed the strength in numbers during the convention with a rally calling for immigration reform.
“I was honored to meet more of our brothers and sisters organizing across the country. It was inspiring. But we need more leaders to step up and to get more involved in the community.” – Heidi Pham, Chairperson, APALA San Mateo and Santa Clara
The leader of Local 521, Luisa Blue, Chief Elected Officer, was honored at the convention with the Philip Vera Cruz Award. She was presented with the award by Mary Kay Henry, International President of SEIU, who gave an inspiring introduction of Luisa to attendees:
“Luisa Blue is a revolutionary… and has the courage and guts to fight to make change and will throw herself at it if necessary.” – Mary Kay Henry, International President, SEIU
Luisa received the award for her tireless dedication to the labor movement for over three decades. She began as a union member and nurse at San Francisco General Hospital where she was an outspoken advocate for the compassionate care of HIV/AIDs patients during the height of the epidemic in the 1980s. Luisa later became an union organizer and helped win the first legislative nurse-to-patient ratio standards for acute care hospitals in the nation. In addition to serving as our Chief Elected Officer, she currently serves on the SEIU International Executive Board and the APALA Executive Board.
Congratulations to Luisa for being recognized for her outstanding dedication to the labor movement!