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Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA lays off 20 percent of staff

Staff and supporters of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA celebrated Advancing Justice-LA day at Los Angele’s City Hall this past November. Via Facebook

Asian American advocacy group Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles this week laid off 18 staffers, 20 percent for their staff. The advocacy group is one of LA’s top civil rights organization.

According to the LA ist, the organization let go a spokeswoman, labor rights lawyer, outreach staffers, bilingual phone operators, and citizenship teachers in response to what Rafu Shimpo reported as a $2 million budget shortfall.

“The layoff decision seems designed to strike more fear and anxiety among the remaining staff and would confirm management’s absence of good faith during negotiations, which began more than a year ago,” AFSCME International wrote in a statement. “We are shocked the board and management have, in announcing these layoffs, breached their obligation to bargain with the union first,”

The board of directors denied these layoffs are related to current labor negotiations.

“The decisions announced today were made after extensive input and analysis with staff and leadership of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles in order to position our organization to be stronger and more financially stable in the future. While difficult, actions taken were critical to allow us to continue the important work of advancing justice in AANHPI communities, all communities of color, immigrants and other marginalized groups moving forward. All efforts to reset the organization for success are being done alongside contract negotiations with the union. The board and management fully support the right of staff to organize and will continue to work in good faith with the collective bargaining unit as we have from the beginning. Any characterizations of our intentions otherwise are not true,” the board said.

Laid off staffer Alison Vu told LA ist that management had been struggling with finances for 10 to 15 years. Vu mentioned that the laid off hotline workers spoke different languages and now there will not be Khmer, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Hindi staffers to answer the phone. While a 19th person would have been fired, a co-worker resigned to save another person’s job.

“The organization purporting to be the leader and services for that community is no longer the leader,” Vu said.

Advancing Justice – LA’s about page describes the group as the “largest legal and civil rights organization for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (NHPI). Founded in 1983 as the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Advancing Justice – LA serves more than 15,000 individuals and organizations every year.” 

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