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Asian Americans and Latinos are the fastest growing minority groups in the country. Particularly in North Carolina, Asian American population has grown more than 80% from 2000 to 2010 (see Advancing Justice’s recent report on the Asian American demographic in the South here), while Hispanic/Latino populations has grown more than 110%, according to the US Census. This growing demographic could have particularly important implications for politicians in the days to come.

Often headlines choose to highlight differences between Asian Americans and Latinos, focusing on language like “Asians overtake Hispanics as largest US immigration group” and reinforcing the “model minority” myth that effectively renders Asian Americans as a political tool against affirmative action.

Lost in translation is common history and solidarity that these communities have shared and common challenges they continue to face.

To bring to the forefront “real clear moments of collaboration between Asian-Americans and Latinos,” NPR’s Latino USA has put together a special report in the form of an hour-long podcast called “Hyphen-Americans.”

Particularly poignant in the podcast, editor-in-chief of Hyphen magazine (a publication focusing on Asian American issues) Abigail Licad summarizes some political collaborations among the Asian and Latino communities in the past including working together on labor movements in the early 20th century (among one of the most iconic collaborations being between Cesar Chavez and Larry Itliong) to collaboration in the undocumented youth movement in recent years.

Listen to the Latino USA podcast here:

Commentary

Farmworkers 2If you missed it this morning, be sure to take a few minutes to read this morning’s lead story over on the main Policy Watch site: “Twenty-first Century children, Nineteenth Century laws.” The article features a powerful interview with a young woman who describes the pain and hardship she endured for years as a child laborer in 21st Century America — something that, as remarkable as it may seem, remains perfectly legal more than a century after our country supposedly addressed it. Here is an excerpt:

Q. When and why did you start working? Was it your choice?

A. At the age of 8 years old I started working in cotton fields in Arkansas. When I was12-years old I started working in blueberry fields in Michigan, as well as working in the processing plant and various nurseries. I come from a family of migrant farmworkers; we were all expected to work at some point. I am not entirely sure why I started at a much younger age. But growing up I learned that we worked to help pay for bills, school clothes and supplies and also to learn a lesson. Both my parents met in the fields, they both knew how hard the life of a migrant farmworker was and didn’t want for that life to be their children’s. They made us work to show us exactly what was out there without a proper education and to motivate us to stay in school.

Q. What was your typical job and what would be a typical workday? Read More

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Moral MondaysWith today’s Moral Monday focusing on, among other things, the rights of workers in North Carolina, be sure to check out this essay from Saturday’s Raleigh News & Observer by NC AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer MaryBe McMillan. As McMillan notes:

“At what cost to the residents of this state do our lawmakers and our governor do the bidding of organized greed? A devastating coal ash spill fouls our waterways, and fracking threatens our water supply. Children as young as 12 work our tobacco fields. Jobless North Carolinians struggle to make ends meet on reduced and inadequate unemployment benefits. Teachers work without pay raises, textbooks and teaching assistants. Children, the aged and the disabled are being kicked off Medicaid while hundreds of thousands are left to get sick and die, caught up in a Medicaid blockade of lawmakers’ own making. Citizens are made to overcome obstacles in exercising their right to vote. Even our right to vote is under attack. If we stand by and do nothing, we are signing off on this moral bankruptcy. Read More

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As we approach Labor Day weekend, new data from the state Division of Employment Security  shows unemployment rates fell in 97 of North Carolina’s 100 counties last month. However, most of the job growth this past year has occurred in Leisure & Hospitality, the lowest-wage sector.

This industry pays roughly $12 below the statewide average, according to analysis by the NC Budget & Tax Center.

MaryBe McMillan with the NC State AFL-CIO says it’s troubling that the employment opportunities that have replaced the manufacturing jobs lost during the recession fail to provide families a living wage:

“Folks cannot get by on $7.25 an hour, and it’s long overdue we raise the minimum wage, make it a living wage, index it to inflation so we are not going another decade or so without a wage increase,” explained McMillan in an interview with NC Policy Watch.

Minimum wage workers and their supporters will gather today (Thursday) in cities across the nation, including Raleigh, asking to be paid $15 an hour.

For a preview of McMillan’s radio interview with Chris Fitzsimon, click below:

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The statewide unemployment rate is holding steady at 8.8 percent, despite a statewide loss of 11,000 jobs over the last month.

The June employment data was released today by the N.C. Department of Commerce’s Labor and Economic Analysis division.  It was the same as last month, and down from the 9.6 percent unemployment the state battled this time last year.

Today’s release of June data make the third month in a row the state has come in under 9 percent. Click here for more detailed data from the state commerce agency about the unemployment figures.

But it’s far from a rosy picture, with 10,958 less people employed this month over last month and an estimated 10,000 people no longer in the labor force (meaning those who are no longer actively looking for jobs).

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