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Advancing (In)Justice: AFSCME Condemns Layoffs at Asian American Nonprofit in Los Angeles

Photo Credit: Advancing Injustice - LA
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By AFSCME Staff Worth the Fight Workers' Rights

AFSCME International joins our sisters and brothers of AFSCME District Council 36 who are employed by Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles in condemning the sudden layoffs of 18 staff, including many who led their effort to unionize.

The layoffs, announced this week, were made amidst collective bargaining negotiations for a first contract for staff members, who do critical work to help low-income Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities.

The layoff decision seems designed to strike more fear and anxiety among the remaining staff and would confirm management’s absence of good faith during negotiations, which began more than a year ago.

“We are shocked the board and management have, in announcing these layoffs, breached their obligation to bargain with the union first,” AFSCME Council 36 wrote in a press release.

Advancing Justice is a nonprofit whose mission is “to advance the civil and human rights for Asian Americans and to build and promote a fair and equitable society for all.” It is deeply ironic that an organization purporting to uphold values of “fairness” and “equity” should now engage in such blatantly unfair and disrespectful actions towards its own workforce.

"The organization purporting to be the leader and services for that community is no longer the leader," Alison Vu, one of the laid-off workers, was quoted as saying in the LAist.

The nonprofit provides community services to thousands of Asian American residents, who will suffer from the staff cutbacks. These include critical services to lower-income families, as well as voting and citizenship services to non-English speakers.

Workers at Advancing Justice successfully petitioned management to recognize their collective bargaining unit in April 2018. They began negotiating a first contract in August of that year.

“We are deeply saddened to see this conduct take place, at an organization with a robust history of supporting workers’ rights and progressive causes,” wrote Advancing Justice staff.