Seattle, WA - The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO (APALA) celebrated its 17th Biennial Convention in Seattle, Washington. More than 400 delegates and guests from dozens of unions and community partners including international guests attended Convention, united under the theme “Workers Rising Together.”
Highlights included a solidarity action to support UNITE HERE Local 8 members at Embassy Suites as they fight for a fair contract as well as caucus spaces, workshops, and plenaries. The convention theme, “Workers Rising Together,” emphasized APALA’s work and vision to improve the lives of all workers and the importance of strengthening relationships with organized labor, building strong APALA chapters, and organizing the unorganized.
“In a time where workers are organizing in record numbers, communities of color and our LGBTQ+ siblings are still under attack – we must invest in AAPIs to strengthen our movement. I am honored to welcome Convention for the first time in our organization’s history to Seattle, and we will especially visit the Chinatown-International District. Our community’s labor is often invisible so we must bring light to our issues,” said Eunice How, APALA Seattle President.
At Convention, Ligaya Domingo (SEIU 1199NW) was elected as the new APALA President. Steven Moy (IBEW) as 1st Vice President, Emily Reyes (AFT) as 2nd Vice President, Mikayla Vu (UAW) as Secretary, and Seung Lee (UFT-AFT) as Treasurer, were elected as officers as well.
More than a dozen international labor and peace activists from the Philippines, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia joined Convention, speaking on panels and leading workshops to uplift organizing fights by workers in Asia. “We thank APALA for their continuing support and solidarity in Okinawa's struggle to alleviate the burden of U.S. military bases and prevent their expansion. Okinawans, like APALA members, cherish peace. We urge the government to pursue dialogue, instead of relying on military strength,” said Katsuya Tamaki from the Okinawa Prefecture DC Office, in response to APALA passing a resolution in solidarity with Okinawa.
Keynote speakers included President of the Washington State Labor Council April Sims, U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal, Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su, NEA President Becky Pringle, and AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Fred Redmond. The celebration event was emceed by Parvesh Cheena (SAG-AFTRA) and honored Jason Chan, Tracy Lai, Asian Americans United (Wei Chen and Yvonne Lung), Empowering API (Justine Lim and all undocumented members), Ian Seruelo, and Leonard Hoshijo.
"I joined APALA earlier this year. The 17th biennial APALA convention was my first APALA convention, and what an awesome weekend it was! I met new union sisters, brothers and siblings from around the U.S. and internationally--Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka to name a few. I learned so much on the struggle and life threats our international union siblings are facing, and ways we need to fight for what workers deserve both at home and abroad!” said Anthony Green, Seattle Chapter and IBEW Local 46 member.
James Michael Agpalo, a member of APALA’s Young Leaders Council and Sacramento Chapter, currently interning at AFSCME, shared: “It was truly amazing to meet with people who both had the same values as me and who looked like me. The intergenerational, intersectional and international solidarity in the house of labor was an inspiration for me to bring back to my chapter and my union. We should use this experience in Seattle as an opportunity to take this back to our chapters and unions, I know I will.”
Founded in 1992, the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), AFL-CIO, is the first and only national organization of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) workers, most of whom are union members and our allies, building power for AAPI workers and communities.