Last week, under a brutal 100 degree sun, hundreds of union members, Walmart workers, and a few SEACA members (most were still in school) marched through downtown LA to protest the Chinatown Walmart. The march ended in Chinatown, where 21 community leaders, workers, and union members sat down at the intersection of Broadway and Cesar Chavez in an act of civil disobedience.
This week, the AFL-CIO is in town for its national convention and during one of the action sessions, delegates from unions all over the country went back to Chinatown to send a message to Walmart that all workers deserve good wages and respect on the job.
Seeing all these union activists in Chinatown has been encouraging, especially given labor’s historically poor track record with Asian communities (labor had previously been very anti-immigrant and was instrumental in the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act). In a community where wage theft and sweatshops are as common as dim sum, families need more than just any job to survive, they need good, safe, living wage jobs. Just as with the CASP campaign we helped to create incentives for affordable housing, in SEACA’s next chapter, we’re going to be working with our allies to create opportunities to bring in good employers that pay decent wages for our community members and all workers. Let’s hope that labor remains a committed partner to Chinatown post-Walmart.