Founded in 1992, the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), AFL-CIO, is the first and only national organization of Asian Pacific American (APA) union members.
Since its founding, APALA has played a unique role in addressing the workplace issues of the 660,000 APA union members and as the bridge between the broader labor movement and the APA community. Backed with strong support of the AFL-CIO, APALA has 13 chapters and pre-chapters and a national office in Washington, D.C.
The role Asian Pacific Americans play in the labor history is extremely diverse. From labor heroes like Philip Vera Cruz, a Filipino labor organizer instrumental in the formation of the United Farm Workers Union and Gene Viernes and Silme Domingo who co-founded the Alaska Cannery Worker’s Association, these people went on to show the great importance of building an APA labor alliance. With a history of legalized exclusion, both from entrance into this country and participation in such trivial acts as owning land, APAs are moving towards an era where APA laborers unite.
History of APALA
In 1992, over 500 Asian Pacific American (APA) labor activists from around the country gathered in
Prior to the founding convention several local APA labor groups were formed. The Asian American Labor Committee in
As a result, in 1991, the AFL-CIO Executive Council established a committee to explore the formation of a national APA labor group. The Steering Committee that was formed from this proposal included the three regional APA labor groups, representatives from the Hawaii State AFL-CIO, and representatives from the seven founding unions.
The stated goals of APALA were to create an organization, which would educate APA workers; promote political education and voter registration programs among APAs; and promote training, empowerment, and leadership of APAs within the labor movement and APA community. APALA further set out to defend and advocate for the civil and human rights of APAs, immigrants and people of color and to develop ties within international labor organizations, especially in the Asia-Pacific Rim.