YKASEC, AALDEF, and the Korean-Chinese Association of New York announced the launch of a comprehensive new initiative today aimed at protecting the rights of workers in New York City’s growing Korean-Chinese community.
Over the past decade, the population of Korean-Chinese (defined as ethnic Koreans born in China) living in the New York City area has surged to an estimated 20,000. Many of them have settled in Flushing, Queens, and have built a “Korean Chinatown” centered around the intersection of Northern Boulevard and Union Boulevard. Many of these new Korean-Chinese immigrants originally found work as manual laborers, but now many also work in such businesses as nail salons, bars, and construction.
Unfortunately, many of these immigrants are non-citizens, and are often subjected to the same kind of serious labor violations that Korean American workers face. These Korean-Chinese immigrants also often lack the English-language ability and resources to help combat these violations. Given their status as a group that is not classified as either Korean or Chinese, they are one of the most marginalized groups in New York City today. In recognition of this problem, YKASEC—Empowering the Korean American Community and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) Korean Workers Project have launched a comprehensive new initiative with the Korean-Chinese Association of New York to protect these workers’ rights.
The central component of this new initiative is a series of workers’ rights trainings created specifically for Korean-Chinese workers. The first training is scheduled for February 3, 2005 at 9:00 p.m. at the YKASEC office in Flushing, in which Karen Yao, an Assistant Attorney General from the Labor Bureau of the New York State Attorney General’s Office will also give a presentation on wage and hour rights in New York State. This initial training will be followed by regular trainings throughout the year. In addition, the Korean-Chinese Association has agreed to take an active participatory role in outreach on behalf of a new joint YKASEC-AALDEF study of low-wage Korean immigrant workers.
YKASEC Executive Director Yu Soung Mun said, “I am excited about our new partnership with the Korean-Chinese Association, together with AALDEF. The Korean-Chinese community is one of the fastest growing communities in New York City, yet it is one of the most overlooked as well. I believe this new initiative will give this community not only the recognition but the protection it deserves.” AALDEF Korean Workers Project Director Steven Choi said, “The AALDEF Korean Workers Project believes this new initiative is an excellent opportunity to extend the broad range of services it offers Korean workers to Korean-Chinese workers as well. Hopefully, the Project can give these workers legal avenues and help them to stand up for their own rights in the workplace.”