APALA unconditionally supports your historic California Bill SB403 to end caste discrimination. We stand in full solidarity with our allies at Equality Labs, Californians for Caste Equity, and the coalition of brave caste-oppressed workers, caste oppressed, racial, and gender justice organizations whose tireless organizing made this historic legislation possible.
Freedom from caste discrimination is inextricably tied to workers’ rights. In 2021, APALA passed a resolution condemning caste discrimination and added caste to our own list of protected classes. We have also publicly supported the listing of caste among the protected classes in the public sector in order to ensure that oppressed castes have unobstructed access to good jobs, quality education, social benefits, and representation at the federal, state, county and city levels including school districts. The seriousness of caste discrimination complaints arising from multiple industries including tech, university, construction, and domestic workers makes this an urgent issue.
Despite this urgency, we know that a small group of opponents are trying to use disinformation and bigotry to derail this process by intimidating dalit civil rights organizations and workers rights organizations who are coming together to build power. They also have brazenly attacked your office with gendered islamophobic attacks. They use common anti-worker tactics of smearing Dalit leaders, workers, and electeds who are braving violence and discrimination to break the silence in their advocacy. These acts are deeply anti-democratic. And we ask that the California legislature ensure safe access for all so this bill can pass as swiftly as possible.
As California begins to ensure accountability for the discrimination and harassment that caste-oppressed Californians and workers face within the state, it is imperative to continue the path forward by ratifying and implementing caste protections as quickly as possible, given the grave complaints of caste oppressed stakeholders.
Any attempt to derail this legislation by opponents to caste equity would harm California workers and would undermine the legally guaranteed, democratic processes of civil and workers rights . Workers often face attacks for their organizing on behalf of their workplace and civil rights, and while we are dismayed at the attacks that caste-oppressed workers and students have faced, we believe that their courage and their foundation in the law will ultimately bear fruit. We strongly believe that attempts to discredit these vulnerable stakeholders and their demands for equity and safety are rooted in casteism and make it even clearer that these institutional protections are imperative to ensuring equity. In the United States, one’s future should not be determined by the family you are born into. The oppression of caste goes against the very principles and ideals on which this country was founded.
For this reason we believe that it is significant for both civil and workers’ rights that California leads the nation and passes this historical law. Including caste as a protected category is in line with other institutions who have added caste including Cal State University System, Brown, Brandeis, and Colby college as well as academic union contracts, such as the one passed by the California Faculty Union, Harvard Graduate Student Union, and many ongoing collective bargaining projects underway. We urge you to pass this resolution immediately and thank you again for your courage in standing with caste-oppressed workers and moving California as a leader in diversity and inclusion in the nation.
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO