MING PAO SOLIDARITY PICKET TUESDAY OCTOBER 18TH

ACLA solidarity picket with MingPao strikers

Next Tuesday morning (October 18th) there will be a solidarity picket for striking employees of Ming Pao newspaper in Scarborough, starting at 8:00 am at 1355 Huntingwood Dr west of McCowan.  The 140-member bargaining unit went out on September 21st to achieve a first contract. They deserve your support!

Strike support for the Toronto Ming Pao workers occurred in Hong Kong last week at the Ming Pao headquarters. In attendance was union vice-chair Allen Lam and activist Anita Cheng. They were also joined by Cheuk-yan Lee,  a member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong and General Secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions.  For more go to www.song.on.ca

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ACLA participates in Dragon Boat race and raises $1700 for United Way

On August 20th, ACLA members, friends and supporters gathered together to participate in the United Way York Region Dragon Boat Race. Team ACLA, comprised of 20 paddlers, were eager to show their spirits and commitment to change on the water. Although the races were tough, the presence of Team ACLA supporters cheering from the sidelines were definitely unmatched. A very special thank you to ACLA member and Team Captain, Jennifer Huang, for coordinating ACLA’s participation in this worthwhile cause.

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Commemorating Chinese Railroad Workers: Linking the Past to the Present

ACLA members laying the wreath

 

As we commemorate the Chinese railroad workers, what have we learnt from the past?
 
The images of Chinese workers toiling under deplorable working conditions are a stark reminder of Canada’s hidden and racist past. Over 17,000 workers came to toil on Canada’s Railway. Approximately 4,000 of these men did not return home. Chinese workers were given the most dangerous, dirty and deplorable occupations during the building of the railroad which laid the bedrock for the expansion of Canada. For its part, Canada has apologized for its past action through the use of symbolic gestures.

While today we commemorate the sacrifices and contribution of the Chinese railroad workers as an important Canadian treasure, as a country we have to ask ourselves what have we learnt from the past? If we scratch beneath the surface of ceremonies, good intentions and tokenism, are today’s racialized immigrants treated any better than those that came before us? The Asian Canadian Labour Alliance argues that much more still needs to be done in the area of race and labour in Canada. Racialized and immigrant workers today face greater precarious working conditions than workers employed in Canada a generation ago. Last year the Chinese Canadian National Council (CCNC) in conjunction with the Chinese Interagency Network (CIN) released a report highlighting specific experiences that Chinese workers face in Toronto. The report concluded that the protections enshrined in existing labour laws and practices were largely unknown to the Chinese immigrant workers who were interviewed. Interviews recounted worker’s experiences of working over 70 hours a week and earning only $4 dollars an hour. The report found that 40% of interviewees did not know what the current minimum wage was in Ontario and more than two thirds of workers were not aware of rights under overtime pay and holiday pay. These findings are similar to findings undertaken by other communities showing a greater divide between those with jobs with protection and those without. Workers are not simply facing abuses in their wages, but the work undertaken by immigrants also tends to be more dangerous.

Workplace injuries and fatalities are still a tragic daily reminder of the conditions facing workers across Canada. In 2009 close to 1,000 workers died at work. According to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board in 2010 over 300 workers died at work while nearly 200,000 others were injured in Ontario. The media has reported numerous workplace fatalities involving racialized and immigrant workers.Immigration laws have always placed restrictions on immigrants. The Chinese railroad workers were not permitted to apply for residency in Canada. Threats of deportations, and the constant prospect of not being able to provide for their families coerced many to work under deadly conditions. Over one hundred years later our labour and immigration laws still work in tandem to deny hundreds of thousands of workers decent working conditions in Canada. In 2010 Canada accepted more temporary foreign workers (migrants employed under similar restrictions as the railroad workers) than those coming to Canada as permanent residents. Hundreds of thousands more work without status or under a precarious immigration status that may deny them the ability to exert labour and other civil rights. In 2007 two Chinese migrant workers were crushed to death when a tank collapsed upon them in Fort McMurray, Alberta. The migrant workers were employed by Canadian Natural Resources Ltd who were subsequently charged with 53 violations under Alberta’s Health and Safety Act. The migrant workers employed under the auspices of Canada’s ‘Temporary Foreign Workers Program’ (TFW) like the over 280,000 others currently in Canada cannot exert workplace rights and many are tied to employer specific work permits thus denying them labour and social mobility in Canada. That is, although they may be working in Canada, they are not protected under Canadian law.

To honour the memory of the Chinese workers, and the thousands of others who have died because of dangerous working conditions, it is imperative that labour laws be reformed to protect the most marginalized, the most vulnerable workers in our communities. Enforcement of our laws should not be incumbent of the disadvantaged being left to fend for themselves but by both levels of governments providing the following (1) proactive inspections of workplaces (2) loosening the obstacles on workers to organize and to bargain collectively. At the Federal level we need to regularize the thousands of temporary foreign workers and provide status to those who are undocumented. We must ensure that workers are not indentured in their workplace, not at the mercy of their employers, and not facing the ever present threat of deportation for demanding safe and decent working conditions.
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Go Ethnics Go !?!?

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Rally for Everyone April 9, 2011

The 10,000 person rally on April 9th showed that the people of Toronto are calling on City Hall and Mayor Rob Ford to show respect for all – not just a select few.

The next event to watch for is on Thursday, April 26th, when the City’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee will decide on the Mayor’s proposal to privatize all recycling and garbage collection west of Yonge Street. The majority of the committee are expected to go along with his plan, even though the numbers don’t make sense. The cost of collection in Toronto averages $79 per ton, lower than the Ontario average of $103 and far less than private collection in other GTA municipalities. Continue reading

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Myth of the Ethnic Vote

Does the ‘ethnic vote’ exist? If

it does, will it have any

political clout in the 2 March

elections?

Nick Economou examines the

complexities of the ethnic

lobby and its potential.

Read the article http://www.multiculturalaustralia.edu.au/doc/economou_1.pdf

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OFL Workers of Colour Assembly – March 25 & 26

Workers of Colour Assembly/Educational

March 25 & 26, 2011

OFL Building, 15 Gervais Drive, Auditorium, Toronto

 

This will be the first ever OFL Workers of Colour Assembly/Educational organized by the OFL Workers of Colour Committee co-sponsored by the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Latin American Trade Unionists Coalition and Asian Canadian Labour Alliance. 

For more info, please visit http://ofl.ca/index.php/html/index_in/workers_of_colour_assembly_march_25_26_2011_register_now

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Community responds to maclean’s racist “Too Asian?” article

A Call to End Anti-Asian Racism
November 18, 2010

We, the undersigned, believe that the articles published by the Maclean’s newsmagazine and the Toronto Star newspaper on November 10, 2010, worked to racially profile and stereotype Asian Canadians as perpetual foreigners in Canada. They also reinforced anti-Asian resentment and antagonism by raising anxieties over Canada’s changing demographics and China’s emergence as a global power. Both media outlets generated ‘us’ versus ‘them’ distinctions between white and Asian Canadians, consequently inciting racial antipathy and division, instead of fostering a constructive dialogue on diversity and integration. The damaging and violent impact of racial stereotyping and antagonism are far-reaching, not just in the realms of media, education, workplace, and the society at large, but also to the targeted individuals and communities.

Maclean’s and the Toronto Star recycled historical and ongoing depictions of Asians as yellow and brown perils that threaten the Canadian social order. These media depictions reinforce and manifest in anti-Asian government policies and public thinking. The Head Tax and Immigration Exclusion laws, the Continuous Journey regulations, and the World War II Internment targeted the Chinese, South Asian, and Japanese Canadian communities, respectively. In 1979 the news television series W5 portrayed ‘oriental foreign students’ as taking over Canadian educational institutions. We therefore see Maclean’s and the Toronto Star as reinforcing a long and deeply ingrained history of racial anxiety and profiling that have led to the oppression and exclusion of Asian Canadians.

The media’s racial distinction of ‘us’ versus ‘them’ works within a troubling understanding of Canada in which whites or people of European descent are considered the sole rightful citizens and beneficiaries of the nation. Such an understanding makes it difficult to conceive of Canadian universities as educational institutions where Asians as well as other communities of colour, such as Aboriginal, African, Caribbean, Latin American, and Middle Eastern people, can also belong. Racialized individuals and communities face challenges to their claims of belonging when certain institutions and entitlements are already deemed as not for them.

The media also continue to portray Asian Canadians in homogeneous ways and fail to account for the differences within the group. They do not distinguish among Asians who are international students, newcomer immigrants, or Canadian-born citizens. They do not report on the varying educational conditions of Asian Canadians based on class, gender, and language. They lump Asians together regardless if their ancestral background is from South Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam, or Sri Lanka. Since Maclean’s and the Toronto Star depicted Asian Canadians as a homogeneous model minority, they failed to see the structural roots of the academic and social struggles of many Asian Canadian students. They also missed seeing how community groups are addressing barriers that hinder their pathways for genuine settlement, integration, and wellbeing in this country.

Although Asian Canadians have borne the brunt of racist government policies, media portrayals, and public opinions, they also have been actively recruited for their labour and money. Their labour has been crucial in the development of Canada, ranging from the construction of the railways in the late 1800s to the live-in care of children and the elderly within the past 25 years. Their financial resources are keenly sought after, as economic migrants who could bring investment and entrepreneurial capital and as international students whose high tuition fees help compensate for the government’s inadequate funding of public education. Many Canadian universities aggressively outreach and recruit students from Asia. In fact, 15 presidents of Canadian universities traveled to India this month to enhance Canada’s profile in the global knowledge economy.

As such, Asian Canadians are trapped in a perpetual racist contradiction: they are both wanted and unwanted in Canada. So long as they provide labour, money, and expertise, they are wanted. However, when they assert their right to full humanity and genuine integration in Canada, they confront exclusion.

Since the media – as well as educational institutions – have perpetrated anti-Asian racial stereotyping, oppression, and antagonism, they need to change their policies and practices in order to help realize the promise of a multicultural nation.

Therefore, we demand that Macleans’ and Toronto Star:
•         Must give a comprehensive public apology.
•         Must engage in public consultations to address racial profiling and stereotyping in their media outlets.
•         Must implement measurable corporate and editorial anti-racism policies in consultation with relevant community constituents, and must publish the results annually.
•         Must implement employment equity programs to diversify its editorial and frontline personnel.

We also demand that Canadian institutions of higher education:
•         Must develop academic programs and courses that explicitly address racism in Canada and the historical and contemporary experiences, representations, and contributions of Asian Canadians.
•         Must undertake campus climate surveys of racialized students, staff, and faculty.
•         Must establish advocacy and support offices for racialized students, staff, and faculty.

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2010-2011 Film Lecture Series

film lecture series – final

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An Open Letter to the Right Honourable Stephen Harper

Dear Prime Minister:

Re:       Stop the Attack on Employment Equity

As Canadians who believe in a discrimination-free society, we are writing to express our grave concerns regarding recent comments made by the Hon. Stockwell Day, President of the Treasury Board, who insinuated that the Federal Employment Equity program is barring qualified Canadians from job opportunities in the federal public service. 

We are equally dismayed by similar comments made by the Hon. Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, who stated that all Canadians should have an equal opportunity to work for their government based on merit, regardless of race or ethnicity, as if to suggest that unmerited candidates from racialized communities are taking over the jobs of qualified white candidates, thanks to affirmative action.

The truth, as you are well aware, is the opposite.  Employment equity guarantees merit-based hiring because it removes artificial barriers to employment.  All too often, qualified candidates from racialized communities do not get hired because of their race or ethnicity. Continue reading

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