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APALA celebrates 20th anniversary; Seattle chapter hosts event Friday

The following is crossposted from AFL-CIO Now:

Twenty years ago, when the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) was founded, “you could almost count the number of Asian Pacific American (APA) organizers on one hand,” says APALA Executive Director Gregory Cendana. But in the two decades since,

That has clearly changed when you look around at the growing number of Asian Pacific American union leaders, staff and organizers. We want to continue to grow and we look forward to reaching out to the broader community and get more of the community involved.

Last Thursday at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C., APALA members and supporters celebrated the group’s 20 years of addressing the workplace affecting the 660,000 APA union members and as the bridge between the broader labor movement and the APA community.

The Seattle chapter of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance will hold its Annual Dinner & Silent Auction on Friday evening, May 4 at the South Seattle Community College’s Brockey Conference Center, 6000 16th Ave SW. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $60 ($35 for students & seniors). To reserve tickets or for more info, call Lika 206-261-6722.

AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker told the crowd last Thursday that the fastest growing minority group in the United States, Asian Pacific Americans, “will play a special role in our society, our culture, our politics and certainly in our labor movement.”

And for those reasons and more, it’s our job as leaders in the labor movement to make sure we’re meeting the needs of this growing population—and of all communities of color. All too often, we know that needs of working people of color go unmet and unmatched, and that’s why the work of APALA is so essential. It’s a model for building support and marshaling resources across the APA community.

The 20th anniversary ceremonies also honored AFSCME President Gerald McEntee, Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and the group’s first director Matthew Finucane for their important roles in APALA’s founding and growth.

McEntee was the leading voice on the AFL-CIO Executive Committee for establishing APALA, and Holt Baker said he “fought for nuts-and-bolts support of APALA’s first programs, and he mentored the fledgling organization’s first leaders.”

Chu, the chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus—and a longtime activist in her union, AFT—was elected to Congress in 2009. She is a strong supporter of APALA and its work, says Cendana.

Finucane, now NEA’s senior liaison to the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, was instrumental in building APALA’s organizing, political and advocacy programs.

Find out more about APALA’s history here and its work here.

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