After five years, Chinese Progressive Association San Gabriel Valley (CPA-SGV) has ended its low-wage organizing. Founded initially to undertake this work and to be a center for progressive Chinese Americans, they have been unable to expand their core of activists.
Unlike Chinese Progressive Associations in other cities, CPA SGV remained an all-volunteer organization. The low-wage organizing work included a survey of workers, "Know Your Rights" workshops, regular outreach to supermarket and restaurant workers, and the opening of an office. CPA SGV will continue work on other projects still to be chosen.
Text of the full statement below.
Chinese Progressive Association San Gabriel Valley
CPA SGV Statement of Change
Dear friends, allies, and community,
On behalf of the Chinese Progressive Association ? San Gabriel Valley (CPA?SGV), we would like to thank all of you for your continued support and love over the past five years.
CPA?SGV initially came together to organize low?wage Chinese workers and to build a progressive space for Chinese Americans. It was important to us to organize in the SGV because of the large number of low?wage Chinese workers concentrated there and the lack of organizing from a political, class?based perspective. We began our work in partnership with the Garment Worker Center, who had decided to support our group in order to work with many of the Chinese garment workers that they no longer had the capacity to support within their organization. They have remained our fiscal sponsor and supporter for the past five years.
In 2006, we formed an all?volunteer group and named ourselves the Chinese Progressive Association ? San Gabriel Valley. Our group consisted of a variety of activists that had already been involved in community work in other spaces but wanted to do work with the Chinese immigrant community and shared a set of political principles. We decided to form a volunteer group, because many of us were critical of the funding and other restrictions placed on non?profits. We wanted to experiment with a collective structure in order to develop our own leadership and to have more flexibility to conduct grassroots organizing. As part of our initial forming, we held a study group from which we developed our principles and vision of a just, accountable, democratic, and worker?led group and society rooted in grassroots organizing.
In the past five years, we have been able to:
· Conduct a survey of 67 Chinese restaurant, homecare, supermarket, garment and massage workers and writing a research report based on the results
· Engage in regular outreach to supermarket and restaurant workers
· Open an office in Alhambra Hold two sessions of ESL classes incorporating political education, which were attended by over 55 community members
· Hold several "Know Your Rights" workshops on wage and hour issues Support Chinese workers in their wage claims
· Participated in national exchanges with other Chinese & API organizing groups
· Host several interns and Summer Activist Trainings
· Attend national gatherings of organizations organizing Chinese communities
· Support ourselves through grassroots fundraisers and member contributions
We are proud of all of the work we have accomplished.
Our Chinese Low?Wage Worker Organizing Project
We have found that we can no longer sustain our work as we envisioned it ? to create a worker?led grassroots organization of low?wage Chinese workers in the SGV. Over the years, we have faced many challenges in building an organizing project from the ground up: our lack of fully bi?lingual and bi?cultural organizers, accountability within an all?volunteer structure, inconsistent participation, and a lack of organizers who regularly engage with first generation Chinese immigrants.
Although a core group of us have been committed to our work and each other over the past few years, we have found it difficult to grow our core group of progressive Chinese activists. Although all of us still firmly believe that there needs to be a progressive political voice and space for Chinese immigrant workers in Los Angeles, we do not have the capacity to carry out that work at this time.
Because of these challenges, we are closing out our Chinese Low?Wage Worker Organizing Project. This project has been the main focus and drive of CPA SGV since its inception. This has been a difficult decision for all of us, but we hope our efforts inspire and generate spaces for other progressive Chinese activists to build work in the greater Los Angeles area with low?income communities. All of us still believe in the need to build a movement that involves working class Chinese immigrants, and some of us will be taking a new direction in our work with lowincome communities. A number of people involved with that project intend to continue doing work with the larger Chinese American community. The form that will take is still under discussion, and we hope that others can join us to build that work.
In this spirit, although we are closing this project of CPA SGV, all of us are happy to share lessons and resources with any other activists that are interested in doing grassroots organizing with low?income Chinese communities in Los Angeles. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like any of this information.
In Solidarity and Struggle,
SHIU MING CHEER