Last week, nearly 300 dim sum workers won a landmark $4 million dollar settlement from major San Francisco-area restaurant chain, Yank Sing. The workers, who did not have the benefits of a union, were forced to endure multiple labour violations, including retaliatory action and wage theft.
With help from the Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Asian Law Caucus and Chinese Progressive Association, the workers organized a “do-it-yourself” collective bargaining action, including strikes and walkout during high volume business hours. The action worked: in response to the collective action, Yank Sing came to the bargaining table and agreed to the massive settlement, along with agreeing to offer workers a raise, holiday pay and more transparency in scheduling and worker rights. Yank Sing also agreed to offer full healthcare coverage for their workers, a benefit currently made available by only 10% of restaurants nationwide.
Today is Labour Day, a national day to commemorate the role of the American labour movement in shaping contemporary US political and personal life. For AAPIs, our history is closely linked with and can often be told through the fight for labour rights; yet, as Professor Glenn Omatsu points out in this AAPI labour studies class syllabus, our contributions to the labour movement are often overlooked.
While you are out celebrating Labour Day today, please take a minute to remember these two historic moments for AAPIs in the labour movement.
I usually don’t tolerate spoilers, but today I’ll make an exception.
About an hour ago, mainstream news outlets broke the story about 12 hours in advance of the State of the Union that President Obama would be announcing an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors from the federal minimum of $7.25 to $10.10.
For those who don’t want to whip out their calculators, that’s an incredible, whopping, 40% increase, and is a reasonable approximation for a living wage in most parts of this country.
Since 2001, Reappropriate has been the web's foremost Asian American activism, identity, feminism, and pop culture blog!