Encouraging AA and NHPI Workers to Speak Up
Title: Encouraging AA and NHPI Workers to Speak Up: Empowering the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Community
In pursuit of the American dream, many immigrants, like my parents, have come to this country with the hope of creating a better life through hard work and abiding by the rules. As the Acting Secretary of Labor, I have inherited the same qualities of resilience and courage from my ancestors who ventured across the oceans in search of a better life. Today, I continue to uphold those values by working diligently to empower and protect the rights of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) workers.
Sharing Personal Experiences:
Reflecting on my own family’s journey, I remember my mother spending a challenging thirty days in the cargo hold due to our inability to afford a cabin ticket for her first voyage. Like many other newcomers, my parents initially struggled to find jobs that paid a meager wage. However, when my mother secured a clerical position in Los Angeles County, it changed our lives. This unionized job offered stability, steady income, retirement benefits, and healthcare, paving the way for our family to achieve the American dream.
Addressing the Inaccessible American Dream:
Nevertheless, I am fully aware that the American dream continues to remain out of reach for many families. Recognizing this, I recently held a roundtable discussion with community leaders, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, and representatives from the AA and NHPI community. The purpose of this meeting was to ascertain how we could work together to protect and empower AA and NHPI workers, providing them with better job opportunities. It is crucial to acknowledge that AA and NHPI enterprises form an essential part of our economy, especially in small businesses, which rely on fair labor practices to sustain a competitive environment.
Actions Taken by the Department of Labor:
1. Promoting worker health and safety, as well as raising awareness about minimum wage and overtime rights: We collaborate with trusted organizations within communities, conducting outreach to identify illegal practices and providing compliance assistance to employers.
2. Investing in all American workers is investing in America: We prioritize labor training programs to ensure that all workers, including AA and NHPI workers, have ample access to quality job opportunities within their communities.
3. Effective communication: We communicate with workers in their own languages, engaging with them in their communities where they live and work. We provide materials in easy-to-understand formats to better connect with AA and NHPI workers and enhance their understanding of the resources available from the Department of Labor. For example, we have translated the “Know Your Rights” brochure into 19 languages, including Chinese, Mongolian, Japanese, Korean, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese.
4. Collecting detailed data from the wider AA and NHPI communities: By gathering nuanced information about different communities and subgroups, we can implement category-specific measures to achieve more equitable economic development and address the complex challenges faced by diverse communities.
Appreciation and Continued Efforts:
Lastly, I express sincere gratitude to the community leaders and organizations who share their expertise with us. Throughout my life, I have witnessed how good jobs can transform lives, and I remain steadfast in our commitment to help every AA and NHPI worker and their families realize the American dream.
In conclusion, as Acting Secretary of Labor, I am dedicated to protecting the rights of AA and NHPI workers and ensuring they have a seat at the decision-making table. We strive to listen to their voices and empower them. By working together with the community and organizations, we can forge a brighter future where every AA and NHPI worker can achieve their dreams.