CREATING OPPORTUNITIES FOR
THE ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN
Under the leadership of Secretary Elaine L. Chao, the Department of Labor has made outreach to minority communities throughout the country a top priority. As the first American woman of Asian descent to serve in a President's Cabinet, Secretary Chao understands the challenges and obstacles these communities face.
As part of the Department's outreach, Secretary Chao has made significant contributions to the advancement of Asian Pacific Americans through partnership activities, targeted compliance assistance, human capital development and enhanced enforcement of labor laws.
Opening doors to Asian Pacific Americans at the highest levels of government
President Bush has appointed more Asian Pacific Americans to positions in his Administration - more than 400 - than any other President in history. Two of these were Cabinet Secretaries and 157 others are PAS (Presidential Appointees, Senate Confirmed) and PA (Presidential Appointees) serving in the highest ranks of the Administration. Twenty-three Asian Pacific Americans, a record number, have served in the White House under President Bush.
Secretary Chao is the first Chinese-American, and first Asian American woman, to be appointed to the Cabinet. She has appointed more Asian Pacific Americans to positions at the Department of Labor than any other Cabinet Secretary.
Helping Asian Pacific American workers and employers understand their rights and obligations
The Rapid Employee Assistance in Chinese Hotline, or REACH, is a Chinese language hotline in New York City for workers with questions about their pay. Chinese-speaking staff from the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division answer the help number (212-264-4175) Monday thru Friday. During non-business hours a recording instructs callers to leave a message in Cantonese, Mandarin, or Fukianese. A Chinese-speaking investigator then promptly responds to provide assistance. Along with the hotline, 39 Chinese employment agencies serving the New York City area are providing job seekers with information regarding their rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in Chinese, reinforced through posters and wallet-sized cards.
In Houston, Texas, The Information Group for Asian American Rights (TIGAAR) was formed to educate the Asian American community about their workplace rights. TIGAAR is a collaborative partnership spearheaded by the United States Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division with other government agencies and local Asian Pacific American community organizations. Through this program 403 employees recovered $439,000 in back pay and benefits.
Northern New Jersey has the Compliance Outreach to the Asian Community and Hispanics (COACH) program, run by the Wage and Hour Division. The COACH program goes into the Asian and Hispanic communities to work directly with employers and workers who traditionally have been reluctant to seek the Department's services. Outreach has taken place in Hudson and Essex Counties with visits to businesses in Jersey City, North Bergen, Union City, Guttenberg, and West New York. Most of the employers visited identified their ethnicity as East Indian, Pakistani, Korean, Filipino, Arab or Hispanic.
Helping Asian Pacific Americans overcome challenges and more fully participate in the American Dream
To help Asian Pacific Americans recover from the September 11 attacks, the Administration funded emergency efforts to assist dislocated workers in the New York City community.
Protecting the benefit plans of America's workforce, the Department's Employee Benefit Security Administration achieved monetary results totaling $9.2 billion since 2001.
To improve the lives of Korean and other Asian Pacific American at-risk youth and young adults, the Department awarded a $1 million grant in California through a competitive process to a coalition of faith-based organizations. The program enhanced the employability of participants by providing them with educational and vocational training, counseling, peer support, mentoring, life skills services, and job placement services.
To assist Asian Pacific American seniors, the Administration awarded a $6.1 million competitive grant under the Senior Community Service Employment Program to the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging in Seattle, Washington. The program provides on-the-job experience and training to low-income seniors age 55 and older.
Recognizing that economic freedom and entrepreneurship are a foundation for individual success and prosperity, the Employment and Training Administration's "Growing America Through Entrepreneurship Project" (Project GATE), allocated $9 million to reach historically underserved ethnic populations and help diverse urban and rural populations create, support and expand small businesses.
To better serve the Asian Pacific American communities, the United States Department of Labor's monthly employment report includes, for the first time, specific data on Asian Americans.
To make non-English speaking workers aware of government services and labor rules, the United States Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has worker safety awareness materials available in Chinese and Vietnamese. To ensure the safety of youth workers, the Department also distributes Chinese language manuals to teen workers.
Enforcing Executive Order 11246 to fight discrimination against women and minorities, including Asian Pacific Americans by federal government contractors and subcontractors
Executive Order 11246 tasks the Labor Department with enforcing nondiscrimination in employment by government contractors and subcontractors only. Overall workplace discrimination issues are addressed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Since 2001, the Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has obtained settlements that provided over $210 million in financial remedies to minority and female workers. In a number of these cases, Asian Pacific Americans received settlements under Executive Order 11246.
For example, in 2004, OFCCP financial settlements in hiring discrimination cases in Texas alone awarded back pay of $173,632 to Asian Pacific Americans and other minority applicants. Another $1 million was awarded in 2005 covering lost wages, fringe benefits, and interest to minorities and women - including Asian Pacific Americans - in a case involving a federal contractor in South Carolina.
Last year, OFCCP recovered a record $51,525,235 for a record 15,273 American workers - many of whom are of Asian descent - that had been subjected to illegal discrimination. In 2006, OFCCP conducted 31 Corporate Management Compliance Evaluations (CMCEs), also known as "Glass Ceiling" audits. CMCEs ensure that women and minorities do not face discriminatory barriers to advancement into management and executive positions.
Fighting discrimination in low-wage industries with chronic violations, where large numbers of immigrant workers, including Asian Pacific Americans, are employed
Since 2001, the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division recovered back wages totaling about $1.1 billion. In fiscal year 2006 alone, the Department's direct enforcement efforts in low-wage industries, such as garment manufacturing, health care, janitorial services, restaurants and the hotel industries, yielded $50.6 million in back wages for particularly vulnerable workers. Nearly 86,700 workers in these industries received back wages.
In February 2003, because of Wage and Hour Division enforcement, 11 Chicago area Chinese-style buffet restaurants agreed to pay over $665,000 to more than 100 workers employed as busboys and kitchen help. The workers, mostly Asian and Hispanic, worked as many as 66 hours a week and were not paid overtime. In some instances, employees were paid less than minimum wage.
In February 2003 as a result of a Wage and Hour Division investigation, an owner of a garment factory in American Samoa was found guilty of 14 criminal counts including involuntary servitude, forced labor, extortion, money laundering and conspiracy to violate the rights of more than 200 Vietnamese and Chinese immigrant workers who operated his factory.
Creating opportunities for the growing Asian Pacific American community
To foster a new generation of leaders and promote diversity in the workforce, Secretary Chao established an internship program at the United States Department of Labor that has benefited over 60 Asian Pacific Americans. Secretary Chao meets annually with Asian Pacific American interns in the Washington D.C. area to highlight careers in leadership and public service.
To help Asian Pacific Americans access career and leadership opportunities in the federal government, Secretary Chao initiated the annual Asian Pacific American Federal Career Advancement Summit in May 2001. Drawing over 1,200 federal employees in 2007, this unprecedented training program aims to equip APA government employees with the skill sets to become leaders in the American workforce. In 2004, Secretary Chao introduced the Asian Pacific American Federal Career Guide explaining the federal job search process, which is available online at www.dol.gov/dol/jobs/apa_fcg.pdf. For more information about this past year's May 3, 2007 APA Summit in Washington, DC, visit www.apasummit.gov.
Since 2003, the Department of Labor has hosted the Opportunity Conference, inviting other federal agencies and non-profit organizations to address the unique needs of the Asian Pacific, Hispanic, and African American communities. Workshop topics have included small business development, accessing capital, doing business with the government, opportunities for faith-based and community organizations, and assistance to workers with limited English proficiency. The conferences have drawn attendees from across the nation and focused on helping Asian Pacific Americans, Hispanics and African-Americans continue to play leadership roles in the American economy. The November 2005 Opportunity Conference in Illinois marked the first regional expansion of this program. Last year the National Conference was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For more information about the September 18, 2007 Opportunity Conference in Washington, DC, visit www.opportunityconference.gov.