The Chinese Staff and Workers

After you listen to the podcast for this week, read about one of the organizations mentioned, Chinese Staff and Workers’ Association. Look at their website’s Program (Links to an external site.) tab, and read about what they offer to workers they advocate for: Labor Rights Clinic, English Class, and Recreational and Cultural Activities.

Write two paragraphs (about 5-6 sentences each paragraph) about what needs these three programs serve for the Asian American working class laborers. Use at least one reference from the Asian America chapter reading from this week to support your response.

After you post your response, comment on at least THREE of your peers’ comments. Your comment should be at least 3-4 sentences and in these templates:

1). The “model minority” myth paints Asians as passive, submissive, emotionless creatures. This perpetuates the idea that Asians can take the abuse without complaining, thus normalizing the exploitation of Asian American workers. The Labor Rights Clinic acknowledges that Asians do indeed have emotions, and it provides a safe environment to touch on these feelings and to figure out what to do next. This is significant, as workers often mask their frustrations because they feel that they have no choice but to stay in these jobs due to their need for money and discrimination from other employers. Thus, their vulnerability and tolerance for abuse contributes to their treatment almost as “objects”, which “one would buy and then discard when no longer needed” (Dhingra, Rodriguez, 11). The Labor Rights Clinic also helps workers develop leadership abilities by organizing campaigns to confront their exploitation, consequently challenging the perception that Asians will forever be only compliant.

Additionally, Asian immigrants often struggle attaining upward social mobility as a result of their poor English. Asian workers are not encouraged to learn English, which, in turn, stunts their economic advancement. The english classes at CSWA will develop their English skills, which will increase their employment opportunities. This will help them assimilate into the American working culture and learn the “American way” to work. However, not all Asian Americans wish to fully assimilate, so some “seek ways to integrate their cultural preferences in the workplace” and “create ways to express their culture” (Dhingra, Rodriguez, 13). The recreational and cultural activities will help preserve the Asian culture by promoting community among the Asian American workers. So, while the english classes will help Asians adapt to the American employment system, the recreational and cultural activities will unite the Asian American working class community and encourage them to still uphold their values in the workplace. 

2) The three programs that are offered from the CSWA website serve several needs for Asian American working class laborers. For Labor Rights Clinic, this program provides the laborers an environment, where they share their thoughts about unfair issues that arise from their workplace with each other, asking for advice of what they can do to overcome the issues. For English Class, it provides the laborers an opportunity to learn communication skills to help develop their relationships with each other and other Americans. For Recreational and Cultural Activities, this program provides the laborers a place to interact with each other by doing various sports and other activities such as Singing, traditional dance, etc. All of these programs give them courage and supports to fight for unfairness that they experience from their workspace together as an organization and to establish a better working environment in America.

The programs indeed are necessary for Asian American working laborers because many Asian laborers feel isolated at work, thinking that they are alone and that there are not much choices for them to improve their working conditions. They feel powerless to pursue a better life due to institutional discrimination that currently exists at work. It turns out that it becomes difficult for many Asians with lower-level managerial jobs “to make the right connections or learn the necessary skills to move into higher-level management” (Chapter 4 Asian America, 9). They are being kept out of “key social support networks” mainly due to language barriers (Chapter 4 Asian America, 9). Therefore, it is important for them to utilize the CSWA programs to satisfy their needs and to seek for better working conditions. 

3) Thanks to the Chinese Staff and Workers Association, members of the community all over New York are able to advocate for themselves as well as making new connections with others. Some ways that CSWA helps with advocating is by utilizing the drop in hours they provide. From the website’s program page it says that, “Workers can drop by to seek advice and support in a safe and supportive environment.” Not only that, but workers can take classes to learn english. By learning the language, it can help them to develop relationships as well as understand what is happening in their work environment.

Making connections with those in our communities can be important because it is beneficial to our overall mental health as well as being a great way to involve yourself in neighborhood activities. Some opportunities that the CSWA provides for workers looking to make connections include cultural and recreational activities. They have an array of options like, “yoga, Singing, Traditional and Modern Dance, Puppet-Making and Recreational Table Tennis, which many workers join, between shifts at the restaurants or on their breaks from other workplaces.” The best part about this is that these activities are all coordinated by volunteer members. We also see a connection of topics from the Asian America text when they discuss why people tend to choose certain careers. The text goes on to explain that, “at times, Asian Americans and other minorities may seek out job assignments tailored to their ethnic group, such as working with co- ethnic clients. The reasoning is that, if one is going to be framed as an ethnic minority, one might as well use that to one’s advantage”(Chapter 4 Asian America, 13). When you chose a job for reasons like this it is easier for you to create connections with others.

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