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.
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.
Like other immigrant groups in America, the history of Asian Americans is essentially a labor history and part of the history of working people in America fighting for justice, equality, and the expansion of democracy. Yet, in contrast to the labor histories of European immigrants, the labor struggles of Asian immigrants and Pacific Islanders are often excluded from traditional accounts of American labor history.
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.