The Stand

Organized labor condemns Atlanta shootings, racism

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SEATTLE (March 17, 2021) — Following are statements issued Wednesday by the Washington State Labor Council (WSLC), the AFL-CIO, and the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA):

 

WSLC Statement on Atlanta Shootings and Racism Against Asians and Pacific Islanders

 

Washington’s union movement is deeply saddened and angry about last night’s horrific murders of Asian women and other workers in Atlanta. In the context of escalating racist aggression and violence against our Asian and Pacific Islander communities, we are once again calling on all workers to unite and speak out against any and all acts of racism. Words and slurs lead to hate and aggression that can cost people their dignity, their rights, and their very lives. These are members of our family and we cannot ignore that they are being targeted right now in this country. It must stop.

Last night’s senseless murders in Atlanta break our hearts, but not our resolve. We will continue to fight for the dignity of all workers, but particularly those of immigrant workers and those in our Black, Indigenous and people of color communities who face the scourge of racism and violence in this society. We grieve these lost lives and express our sincere condolences to their families and loved ones.

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The WSLC continues to denounce and condemn any forms of racism and discrimination, rooted in a history of stolen labor on stolen land, and reaffirms our work on Race and Labor and the Resolution on Condemning API Racism and Xenophobia During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond. In this moment we amplify the leadership and words of Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), and other local organizations for direction, resources, and action:

 

Also, the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) is hosting a series of trainings on racial and immigrant justice for Asian American and Pacific Islander peoples. Get more information here.

 


Labor Movement Outraged and Heartbroken by Atlanta Shootings

 

The entire labor movement is shocked and outraged by another racist attack on Asian women in Atlanta.

“Asian American workers are a vital part of our labor movement and have shown an immense amount of dedication throughout this pandemic. We will not stand by while members of our family are targeted,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “The murders in Atlanta are a horrific and disgusting part of the surging violence Asian Americans have faced over the past year, and reinforce that we all must continue to fight against anti-Asian racism in all forms. Our condolences go out to the victims’ loved ones.”

“I sadly can’t say I’m surprised by this violence. This is what the ‘small racism’ leads to,” said Clayola Brown, AFL-CIO civil rights director and A. Philip Randolph Institute president. “It’s not just a word, it’s not just a racial slur, it’s not just a joke about eyes or carrying disease. Those things build a larger system of racism where things like this happen.”

Monica Thammarath, President of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), AFL-CIO stated, “We grieve for the eight workers who were killed in Atlanta. We take a moment to acknowledge that many of them were the aunties and immigrant women in our communities who face immense barriers to finding work and supporting their families. We also should not overlook the fact that these were Asian and Asian American women working in industries with few worker protections and oversight. It is misogyny and white supremacy that both empower white nationalists to acts of violence, and policymakers to exclude workers from protections when they are in industries disproportionately represented by women and immigrants. We will hold the women and their coworkers and their grieving loved ones in our hearts as we continue to fight for our communities.”

On March 5, the AFL-CIO and APALA released a joint statement, Labor Movement Fighting Anti-Asian Racism in All Forms, following up on a June 2020 statement by the AFL-CIO Executive Council. We will remain vigilant in getting to the root of bias and work together in communities across the country to end racism in all forms.


APALA Grieves for the Asian Women Who Were the Victims of Targeted Shootings in Georgia, and Condemns Misogyny and White Supremacy that Motivated These Murders

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Last night, eight people were murdered at three spas in Georgia, many of whom were Asian and immigrant women that were targeted at their workplaces. These killings happened amidst a global pandemic that has revealed the vulnerability most workers face in America and brought to the forefront anti-Asian racism, both of which are critical to maintaining white supremacy. These murders show how both racism and sexism shapes the specific ways that Asian women experience violence; Asian women are fetishized as sex objects and perceived as deserving of violence. Such dehumanization goes back to more than a century ago when the Page Act of 1875 defined all Asian women as sexually deviant and therefore limited their mobility and freedom. These murders were also driven by the demonization of China, where institutions from all sides are blaming a whole nation of people, and thus all people racialized in the same way, for everything from the COVID-19 pandemic to the resulting failing economy.

Monica Thammarath, President of the Asian Pacific American Alliance, AFL-CIO stated, “We grieve for the eight workers who were killed in Atlanta. We take a moment to acknowledge that many of them were the aunties and immigrant women in our communities who face immense barriers to finding work and supporting their families. We also should not overlook the fact that these were Asian and Asian American women working in industries with few worker protections and oversight. It is misogyny and white supremacy that both empower white nationalists to acts of violence, and policymakers to exclude workers from protections when they are in industries disproportionately represented by women and immigrants. We will hold the women and their coworkers and their grieving loved ones in our hearts as we continue to fight for our communities.”

Building safety starts in our local communities. Check out the #WeKeepUsSafe: APALA’s Resource Guide on Anti-Asian Violence to learn more about how we can work together in the face of violence. We can learn so much from our Black and brown siblings on how we can build community safety without calling for more systems that perpetuate violence towards women, immigrants, Black people, disabled people, and others in our communities.

We echo the calls of our siblings at Advancing Justice Atlanta, “During this time of crisis for our AAPI community, we call on our local and state government to provide robust and responsive crisis intervention resources, including in-language support for mental health, legal, employment, and immigration services. It is time for Georgia to invest in transformative justice that begins with cross racial dialogue and community-building that address the root causes of violence and hate.”

The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), AFL-CIO was founded in 1992 as the first and only national organization for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) union members to advance worker, immigrant and civil rights. Learn more at www.apalanet.org. Renew or become a member here.

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