Union members renew commitment to social justice at APALA and LCLAA conventions

Labor activists across the United States renewed their commitment to social and economic justice at the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) and Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) conventions, both held the first week of August.

APALA and LCLAA are constituency groups of the AFL-CIO that aim to address the challenges that workers from diverse backgrounds face. APALA is the nation’s first national organization of Asian American and Pacific Islander workers that focuses on advancing worker, immigrant, and civil rights.

Members of APALA convened in Seattle for their 17th Biennial Convention where they elected new leadership and participated in workshops on international solidarity, building their local APALA chapters, and more. 

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) ConventionUSW Local 9562 member Kevin Boone is a new union activist who was a first-time attendee at the APALA convention. He serves as a steward at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and was grateful to absorb all of the information presented at the event in Seattle. 

“You get a sense of how wide the diaspora is here and all the work people are doing,” said Boone. 

He also learned a lot that inspired him to take action at his union when he returns home.

“I’ve worked at four library locations across the city and I’m hoping to engage more members to become involved in the local, as well as APALA,” he said.

APALA attendees showing solidarity with Unite Here Local 8Judy Bonilla also attended the convention as a first-timer, an ally, and a new union member who is celebrating her one-year anniversary with USW Local 1010. She works at Cleveland Cliffs Indiana Harbor East and did not expect to be so moved when she participated in a rally for hotel workers in Seattle alongside APALA members.

“It changed me,” Bonilla said, who attended the convention with her wife and fellow Local 1010 member, Amy. “That really opened me up, and I want to spread the news about everything I’ve learned here.”

Local 7600 members from Southern California also participated for the first time at an APALA convention, including Maggie Hernandez. She is incredibly active with her Civil and Human Rights Committee and plans to connect with more AAPI members of her local.

Moving forward with new leadership

Members of APALA elected new leadership at their convention, including Sabrina Liu, who works in the USW Strategic Campaigns department and founded the Pittsburgh chapter of APALA in 2018. She was re-elected as the USW representative on the executive board.

LCLAA members also elected new leaders for their board during their 24th national convention in San Juan, Puerto Rico, including two USW activists. Xochitl Cobarruvias of Local 675 will now serve as executive vice president and Jessica Rios Viner, who also works with Liu in Strategic Campaigns, will serve as the USW representative on the board.

“We need to continue organizing one-by-one in our communities to strengthen LCLAA nationally and across the globe,” said Cobarruvias.

Activists like Cobarruvias were honored during the convention’s third day, which was dedicated to celebrating exceptional women leaders. 

“Women of color have been silenced and misrepresented for too long,” Cobarruvias said. “I firmly believe that women will change the world.”

Panel discussion at LCLAA ConventionLCLAA is the leading national organization for Latino/a workers and their families, representing more than two million workers. LCLAA was born out of the need to educate, organize and mobilize Latino/as in the labor movement. 

Members exercised their voices throughout the convention while voting on changes to the organization's national constitution. They also gave back to the community by volunteering with several organizations, including Casa Rosana, a nurturing haven for women with disabilities.

LCLAA attendees after a workshop

Click here to learn about the seven AFL-CIO constituency groups and how you can get involved.

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