我第一次成功的組織工會活動是在La Rocca Creative Cake。那裡的工人製作美味的蛋糕，並在各地的超市出售。當我看到他們的蛋糕時，我總是有快樂的感覺。該運動由一群主要是移民和種族化的工人領導。他們果斷且組織良好，這對我作為新手組織者來說是一個真正的祝福。錦上添花的是以壓倒性優勢贏得了選票，並在之後與所有工人舉行了盛大的慶祝活動。
Anna Liu is proud of the two organizing campaigns
Anna Liu has been an activist for more than 20 years and is currently an International Representative with the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers. Her work in the labour movement primarily revolves around organizing and education, focused on worker-centered engagement, community activism, and anti-oppression. Anna holds a MA in Labour Studies. As a member of the Asian Canadian Labour Alliance (ACLA), she recently co-authored a chapter in partnership with the Coalition Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) on how environmental racism impacts Racialized and Indigenous people in the workplace during COVID-19.
Q1: How and why did you get involved in the labour movement?
Growing up, I knew little about unions. In my first year of university, I took a women’s studies course and it opened my eyes, changing my perspective on life and the world around me. The same course also placed a lot of emphasis on unions and how they can be a vehicle for women’s economic, social, and political advancement. This inspired me to major in labour studies. Afterwards, I became active on campus helping to write newsletters, supporting striking Teaching Assistants, and participated in my first sit-in at the York University’s President’s office.
Around the same time, I started working at a restaurant unionized by UFCW. I signed up to be a shop steward almost right away. Later, I took a summer position working out of the CLC Ontario Region office. Unions were focusing a lot of attention on increasing youth involvement in labour with dedicated programs and spaces. I found myself immersed, taking in different opportunities to learn more about the labour movement. Along the way, I met several extraordinary activists who gave me guidance and encouragement. They have been pivotal in sustaining my involvement and commitment to the movement.
Q2: What are you proudest of in the work that you do and/or what has been your proudest win?
There are two organizing campaigns that come to mind.
One of my first successful organizing drives was at La Rocca Creative Cakes. The workers there make delicious cakes and they are sold in supermarkets everywhere. I always have happy thoughts when I see their cakes. The campaign was led by a group of predominantly immigrant and racialized workers. They were decisive and well organized which was a real blessing for me as a newbie organizer. The icing on the cake was winning the vote by a landslide and holding a big celebration afterwards with all the workers.
Another proud win is the Legal Aid Ontario Lawyers campaign. It was an unique organizing drive that lasted four years because lawyers are unable to form a union under the Ontario Labour Relations Act like other workers have the right to. However, we found a way to fight by developing a public pressure campaign and subsequently won their historic collective bargaining rights! This victory was published as a case study by the International Center for Development and Decent Work and can be found here: https://kobra.uni-kassel.de/handle/123456789/11625
Q3: What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced, both in the workplace and as an activist?
Dealing with sexism and racism in the labour movement as a worker and activist has been difficult. There are many experiences I can recall that were disappointing, at times cutting deep. However, I remind myself of the important groundwork laid by activists who came before me and those who are actively challenging the status quo to break down the structural and systemic problems within our movement. It gives me hope and the strength to channel those bad experiences into my organizing work to help other workers who may face similar challenges to fight back.
Q4: What do unions need to do to ensure that Asian workers are better represented and supported as workers, as union members and as leaders?
As a member of the Asian Canadian Labour Alliance (ACLA), we have been working for over two decades to strengthen the voices of Asian workers. Within the community and inside the house of labour, we play a multifaceted role organizing to build power and space amongst Asian working-class communities in solidarity with other communities. ACLA has two chapters: one in British Columbia and another in Ontario with Asian activists across Canada contributing to building a narrative of inclusiveness.
As mentioned in an article I contributed to about COVID-19 and the Need for Solidarity, ACLA members believe unions can be doing more to support Asian workers, as well as Indigenous and other racialized workers. Unions play a vital role in countering xenophobia and racism. Unions can do this by taking proactive measures internally to ensure leaders, staff and members have the necessary training and know-how to combat discrimination in the workplace and union. Constituency committees that have been set up need to be adequately supported and resourced as they continue to play a key role in shaping change. Finally, unions can also reinforce the push for all levels of government to take necessary steps to protect all workers, whether those workers are unionized or not. A prime example is continuing to pressure government for much needed employment insurance reforms to protect the most vulnerable.
The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically impacted Indigenous and racialized workers, especially Asian workers with a surge in anti-Asian racism. New data released by the Toronto police in April this year revealed that anti-Asian racism continues to rise. As of Sept 2021, Canada had more reported anti-Asian racism crimes per capita than the United States by over 100%. Unions have a role here to combat what’s happening by extending much needed solidarity by supporting Asian workers from all ranks locally and globally.