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Over 150 participants attended the New York Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) Worker Protection Summit hosted by OSHA and the U.S. Department of Labors Wage and Hour Division on July 9, 2011 in Flushing, New York. The summit was co-sponsored by the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), community-based organizations, service providers, advocacy organizations, and labor unions representing AAPI workers.

The summit provided an opportunity to build bridges between government agencies and workers in the AAPI community. It focused on workplace safety and health issues, workplace wage and hour issues, worker rights, and how workers can voice their concerns when those rights are violated.

Robert Kulick, the Regional Administrator for OSHA Region 2, provided opening remarks. Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) Director Patricia A. Shiu gave the keynote speech. "None of us should have to worry about losing our lives or risking our health simply because we clocked into work," said Shiu. Other speakers included Lenny Moy, President of the APALA New York Chapter and John C. Liu, Comptroller of the City of New York.

Kay Gee, Area Director of the OSHA Manhattan Area Office, moderated a session called "AAPI Workers and Community Leaders Speak Out." The session featured an AAPI worker who discussed her experience in the workplace. Also during this session, Steven Choi, Executive Director of the MinKwon Center for Community Action, and David Ho, Vice President, Home Care Division of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, highlighted their organizations' activities and accomplishments on behalf of AAPI workers.

Educational materials were available in Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese and breakout groups had staff fluent in Cantonese, Mandarin and Korean. Beatriz Cabrera, an OSHA Compliance Assistance Specialist from the Parsippany, New Jersey Area Office, Guo Mei from OSHA's Queens District Office, Zwa Kyaw Thein from OSHA's Manhattan Area Office, and others performed a skit on how to file an OSHA complaint. To address the particular needs of the area's AAPI workforce, the summit focused on how to exercise workplace rights in various industries, including manufacturing, restaurants, nail salons, domestic work, and construction. Many participants expressed appreciation for the opportunity to raise their own issues in the small group discussion and acknowledged how effective the skit was in providing important information on filing a complaint.

Guo Mei (left) from OSHA's Queens District Office and Liz Rhee (right) with the MinKwon Center for Community Action demonstrate how to file complaints at the Asian American Pacific Islander Worker Protection Summit in Flushing, N.Y. Guo Mei (left) from OSHA's Queens District Office and Liz Rhee (right) with the MinKwon Center for Community Action demonstrate how to file complaints at the Asian American Pacific Islander Worker Protection Summit in Flushing, N.Y.

The Department of Labor, including both OSHA and Wage Hour, are increasing outreach to immigrant workers throughout the country," said Regional Administrator Kulick. "Immigrant workers are often exposed to some of the most hazardous working conditions, and frequently not properly compensated for their time. This Summit is an effective way to get the word out about how the Department of Labor can help.

See a slideshow of pictures from the summit. For more information, please contact Laura Kenny, Labor Liaison for OSHA's Region 2.