A BRIEF HISTORY OF CHINESE STAFF:

1979 CSWA is founded by a group of restaurant workers in Chinatown.
1980 Silver Palace workers are fired on March 18 because they protest management's taking of tips. CSWA's first campaign leads to the formation of the independent 318 Restaurant Workers' Union.
1981 Women members of CSWA launch a successful campaign to compel Local 23-25 of the garment workers union to set up a daycare center in Chinatown for garment workers.
1984 In a landmark case, CSWA and others block a luxury-housing development in Chinatown, arguing that low-income people would be displaced by the development and that people should be considered part of the environment.
1985

CSWA led the Concerned Committee of the Chung Park Project to call for community space, including a day-care center.

CSWA organizes the first group of Chinese homesteaders on the Lower East Side, creating 12 low-income co-op units and two community spaces.

1989 Chinese workers in CPC's training program and African-American construction workers demonstrated at Housing and Preservation Department offices to protest the government's exploitation of participants in a federally funded "training" program. CSWA also begins picketing the CPC's Chinese New Year fundraising dinner. CPC had underpaid its construction workers and fired them for organizing. After 6 years of struggle, the construction workers were awarded a $2.15 million settlement in 1994.
1990

CSWA and workers at Wai Chang Fashions organize an unprecedented rally in Chinatown, kicking off our Campaign Against Nonpayment of Wages. We are successful in having the boss, Stanley Chang, thrown in jail and the case inspires numerous workers from other garment factories to speak out. Workers at Nineties Fashions and 318 Fashion also set precedents by forcing manufacturers to take responsibility for the wage-law violations of their subcontractors.

CSWA organized 200 supporters of the Shinwa Restaurant workers in a sit-down demonstration and picket to protest the management's exploitative and racially divisive practices, bringing together Latino, Asian, African American and white workers uniting to confront an employer who divided workers by race and pitted them against one another.

1991 During our Campaign for Economic Justice at Foley Square, we lambasted the discriminatory hiring and contracting policies at 2 multi-million federal projects built in the Chinatown area. CSWA organized demonstrations in July and August, during which 3,000 workers and other community members came out each time to protest. We successfully forced an increase of Asian workers to be hired at the site.
1992

State Senator Franz Leichter and Assemblyman Frank Barbaro introduced a set of bills, drafted with our help, that would make nonpayment of wages a felony and garment manufacturers liable for their contractors' wages law violations.

44 workers are locked out of Silver Palace and began daily picketing that lasted seven months.

1993

Su Deng, the first and only Chinese woman carpenter in NYC, is hired as a result of our Campaign for Justice at Foley Square.

1994

The Silver Palace Victory Rally celebrated the reinstatement of workers under a fair contract, and marks the beginning of the Campaign to End Slave Labor.

1995

Students and workers launch campaign against scofflaw Jing Fong Restaurant which includes a week long hunger strike outside Jing Fong, collecting over 5,000 petition signatures urging the government to keep violators in check, and a town hall meeting to call for stronger labor-law enforcement in Chinatown.

CSWA opens a second center, the Brooklyn Workers' Center, in Sunset Park.

CSWA leads a broad coalition of Asian Americans to block the opening of an Off-Track Betting (OTB) parlor on Bowery.

1996 CSWA kicks off a new project, the National Mobilization Against Sweatshops.
1997

Days after the New York State Attorney General announces a $1.5million lawsuit against Jing Fong, CSWA's Manhattan office is fire bombed. Jing Fong later offers a settlement of $1.14million.

Several Chinese workers are excluded from work at a construction site of New York University, which leads to the launching of the Campaign for Economic Justice at NYU by CCWA and others, holding the landowner responsible for the discriminatory hiring practices of its contractors.

CSWA organizes a picket and press conference outside the notorious Hua Great Procetech factory in Sunset Park for the first time to protest the injury of Xue Yan Huang.

The New Silver Palace Campaign begins after the "new" management tells union workers they must pay $5,000 to be rehired at the restaurant.

1998

Workers at Hua Great Procetech are fired after speaking out against 137-hour workweeks at a factory where clothes are made for manufacturer Street Beat Sportswear. The workers, coming forward to pursue their reinstatement as well as their owed wages, with the support of CSWA, set in motion a campaign holding the contractor, the manufacturer Street Beat, and retailers such as Sears responsible for the sweatshop conditions under which these workers labored.

1999 Street Beat Sportswear pays $300,000 to the garment workers to settle part of the overtime case.

MORE HISTORY COMING SOON...


Chinese Staff & Workers Association (CSWA)
Phone: (212) 334-2333
Email: cswa@cswa.org