|Dear ACLA Members and Allies,
This year marks ACLA’s 20th anniversary. For two decades ACLA has played an integral role in demanding racial justice for Workers of Colour in our communities and our workplaces. We are also celebrating the rejuvenation of ACLA BC and pledge our support to ensure our chapters remain vibrant. Racialized workers have played an integral role in advancing the struggle for workers’ rights and we are committed to continuing our involvement on this front. As long as bosses make it their priority to suppress the agenda of working-class peoples, we will work with and alongside our comrades to resist, fight back, and WIN.
2020 will be remembered as a year where the COVID-19 pandemic reshaped the world. While governments deployed empty rhetoric that we are all in this together, Indigenous, Black and Racialized working-class communities have been disproportionately impacted by this pandemic.
In February, ACLA issued a challenged to labour to heed the lessons of history and undertake proactive and immediate steps to address head on both overt and systemic violence directed at Asian workers. ACLA wrote: “History repeats itself only if we forget the errors of the past. We are in the middle of a crisis, a crisis we can tackle head-on together by learning from the past and by forging forms of solidarity in the wake of ever-increasing attacks on Asian workers. Since Confederation, Chinese and other Asian workers have been targeted and denied equal membership in our society. By laying a foundation of inclusiveness, this can be our moment as a labour movement to send a strong message that we stand firmly against racism and an end to the racial profiling of communities across Canada.”
2020 will also be remembered as the year of the essential worker. Workers all across the front line: from healthcare workers, the service and food workers, transportation to agricultural workers kept our society running at great risk to their own health and well-being. While politicians praised essential workers, most frontline workers were denied basic protections: no hazard or pandemic pay, no paid sick days, no meaningful protections from workplace refusals. In one sense, workers faced heightened levels of economic insecurity because of the pandemic. Simultaneously, we saw multiple acts of resistance all along the supply chain where both unionized and non-unionized workers took the law literally in their own hands to demand protections that won significant victories in many situations. Countless lives were saved by workers demanding PPE or other protections to protect themselves and their co-workers.
It is easy to fall into despair thinking of the lives unnecessarily lost and the economic consequences of this pandemic, but there is hope. It is not empty rhetoric or naïveté; workers are demanding change. This year and every year we take time to honour and commemorate the sacrifices and victories of workers who across the world fight back to demand dignity, fairness, and respect.
Below are highlights of ACLA Ontario’s activities for 2020:
Solidarity with Wet’suwet’en Peoples: ACLA issues solidarity statement in support of the Wet’suwet’en peoples and allies resisting attempts by the Canadian colonial state to extract natural resources from unceded territory – February 2020
PSAC Ontario Region Racially Visible Conference: Presentation to conference delegates – February 9, 2020
Our Times Magazine: ACLA Calls for Education and Solidarity in Response to Coronavirus – February 20, 2020
Diversity in the Canadian Workplace, York University: Presentation to class – February 26, 2020
PSAC Ontario Region Staff Conference: Presentation to attendees – May 27, 2020
Anti-Asian Racism & The Pandemic: Solidarity In A Time Of Crisis: ACLA partners with labour and community allies, organizing a zoom discussion on COVID-19 and the rise of anti-Asian racism – May 28, 2020
Asian Solidarity with Black Lives: Dismantling Racial Capitalism: ACLA partners with labour and community allies, organizing a zoom discussion on anti-racism and solidarity with Black and Indigenous lives – June 29, 2020
What Can Unions Do To Stop Environmental Racism?: ACLA continues to partner with CBTU to deliver Environmental Racism Educationals. This webinar explored how COVID-19 has exposed the deep economic and environmental inequalities experienced by Racialized and Indigenous peoples in Canada – July 23, 2020
Are We Complicit? A Dialogue about Anti-Blackness for Self-Identified East and Southeast Asians: ACLA partners with labour and community allies, organizing a community discussion examining what Asian solidarity with Black and Indigenous lives looks like – August 27, 2020
Solidarity with 1492 Land Back Lane Land Defenders: ACLA issues solidarity statement in support of the Haudenosaunee land defenders and allies resisting unauthorized development on their land – October 2020
RISING TOGETHER: Women for a Just Economy, Anti-Oppression and the Green Economy: ACLA spoke about our work with the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces’ Environmental Racism workshop. The presentation focused on the impact of COVID-19 on Racialized and Indigenous peoples, and the opportunities for resistance – October 21, 2020
Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario’s (ETFO) Racialized Members Conference: ACLA spoke about our work with the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces’ Environmental Racism workshop with a focus on COVID-19 – November 7, 2020
Asians Still Fighting for Justice: Celebrating 20 years of the Asian Canadian Labour Alliance: ACLA BC relaunches, revisiting past and present need to organize and resist – November 14, 2020
Canadian Labour International Film Festival 2020: ACLA participates in film festival and hosts a screening – November 28, 2020
Workers’ Bowl: As part of our 20th Year Anniversary, ACLA joined the Workers’ Bowl to raise funds to support the Workers’ Action Centre. The ACLA@20 team raised $5,848.00! – December 5, 2020
Peace, love & solidarity,
Asian Canadian Labour Alliance