May 2023 Newsletter
Time after time after time, nothing has shown itself to be more powerful than a group of people dedicated to changing the world. Watching the Oakland Education Association use their collective bargaining power to advocate for teachers reminds us of the immense strength of solidarity. Unionizing and labor strikes are crucial tools in the fight for equity and justice in our communities. They give us the space to collaborate and the capacity to demand better for ourselves, our families, and the future.
In this spirit, nearly 50 years ago, in San Francisco’s Chinatown, 135 workers at the Jung Sai clothing manufacturing factory embraced their collective power. They organized against the discriminatory and abusive labor practices upheld by management, Esprit De Corp, including harms like toilet paper rationing, wage withholding, and wrongful termination. Workers at the factory were primarily Chinese immigrant women who spoke little English. As such, management felt very comfortable intimidating and abusing them, thinking the workers would remain silent about these harms as they needed to keep their jobs.
What started with four brave workers distributing and collecting union cards would grow into a national conversation about fair working conditions. Seventeen months later, their efforts resulted in a successful lawsuit, the founding of the Chinese Progressive Association (one of our Equity at Work Council members), and a blueprint for successful community organizing that informs our work today.
As we seek to ReWork the Bay, we must remember that our greatest strength is in each other and the power we hold when we move in solidarity. Building a Bay Area that works for everyone will take the work of everyone. Join us in solidarity, and let’s fight for a future where we all can live full lives with security, dignity, and agency in our work, home, and communities.
Brianna and Rob