Washington, DC - Last month, Delaware State AFL-CIO Executive Director Gerald Brady used racist and sexist slurs in a work email. This was revealed just a year after the Delaware AFL-CIO President James Maravelias made anti-Asian and anti-Semitic remarks on social media. APALA knows that this pattern of racist behavior from the Delaware AFL-CIO leadership does not reflect the values of Delaware union members, but it is indicative of the hard work we all must do in the labor movement to ensure our solidarity is inclusive and reflective of the full diversity of workers.
In a statement released last week, AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler said, “I am sickened by the despicable remarks made by Executive Director Brady and call for his immediate resignation. The leadership team at the AFL-CIO and I are committed to ending discrimination and bigotry in all its forms. Every single union member must come together to root out hate—from inappropriate language to acts of violence. America’s labor movement must use our position of trust to lead by example.”
APALA National President Brady Calma said, “We are heartened to see the swift, strong response from President Shuler. What happened at the Delaware AFL-CIO demonstrates why constituency groups like APALA are important. I want to thank President Shuler for setting the example for labor leaders across the country. It is this type of leadership that will realize a labor movement that is truly inclusive and reflective of the full diversity of America’s workers. APALA will continue to fight for AAPI working people in Delaware and everywhere. We invite you to join us.”
APALA National Executive Board Member Viriginia Rodino added, “We echo the demands of other local and national AAPI leaders who call on Executive Director Brady to resign and to apologize to AAPI workers in Delaware, specifically to women and explain how he will make amends to the community. We also call on labor leaders at the State Federation and in Delaware more broadly to meet with community leaders to discuss an action plan that includes anti-racism training, support for a local APALA chapter, and how to resource organizing and growth of a multi-racial labor movement in Delaware.”
To this end, APALA calls on Delaware union affiliates to transform the culture of the Delaware AFL-CIO through enforcing and strengthening mechanisms which are intended to hold leaders and members accountable for all forms of racism including anti-Asian racism. By partnering with APALA and local AAPI community organizations to invest in AAPI worker organizing and leadership development, AAPI workers can have a real seat at the table.
Racist actions like these are not limited to the leadership of the Delaware AFL-CIO. That’s why APALA created the Labor Toolkit on Anti-Asian Racism. It urges the following steps for State Feds and CLCs to stop Anti-Asian racism in the labor movement:
- State Federations and CLCs should make every effort to ensure that all constituency groups are meaningfully represented on their boards;
- create and enforce codes of conduct that hold leaders and members accountable for anti-Asian racism;
- strengthen and invest in partnerships with worker centers and community organizations; and
- make meaningful investments in equity, inclusion, racial justice, and supporting the development of Black indigenous and people of color leaders within the labor movement. Back up solidarity statements and resolutions with investments of money and other resources.