LA // Session C




• People believe that they're very capable, but language barrier largely limit their choices—They see it as the biggest challenge for them (most people of my table already had their citizenship.)

• Despite the fact that their work is very hard(home care) and very exhausting, they're getting paid too little($12/hour)

• They see a lot of unfairness in the system—they've been paying taxes for so many year and getting not enough social security, whereas some people just came to the country and are getting all the welfare and benefits. According to Julie, a lot of Chinese immigrant seniors are 'poor seniors'.

• Everyone is so involved in the volunteer work at SEIU. They've been very busy with their work but still participate in all the protests/call people to vote/help events in city hall etc.

• Union got their back—they've seen how their hourly rate went from $4.25 all the way to $12 today as the they speak up with the union.

• A lot of good resources are disappearing as the government is cutting budget on those free classes like adult schools. When comes to drawing ideas, everyone drew about free classes.

• Even there is free classes in the union sometimes, the time doesn't work with their schedule at all.(eg. week days in the morning)

• They know a lot of resources/programs from either word of mouth or on the union website.



• Caiying talked about that they are not getting enough hours to work. Besides that, some clients even take some percentage of their money.

• Li talked about how she didn't know how to cook before, but since she knew the other lady on our table, she started to cook lots of traditional Chinese deserts—those ladies spent fair amount of time with each other besides union activities.

• Julie wants to make the china town a better place—more trees, a safer place, and more computer classes.



  • The importance of an organization like SIEU cannot be understated. The organization served as the go-to resource and way for people to stay politically active, engaged with other community members, and illicit change. 
  • Language came up again as a significant barrier for finding work
  • While learning English was a top priority, many agreed that retaining a connection to their native culture was as important.
  • Again, people expressed a desire for either more money or more work to earn more money to provide a better life for themselves and family
  • Education was seen as a gateway to a job, and therefore a better life



  • To help her overcome the language barrier, one woman turned to volunteering at SEIU in English to enable her to practice her language skills.
  • Two people at the table spent an exorbitant amount of time volunteering with SEIU: 400 hours over 2 months.



  • One Catch 22 for care professionals is that they are only allowed a certain number of hours per week and are penalized if they do more
  • They are also only paid for 7 hours of travel time total between clients, but if they have 3 clients the gas, mileage and time can add up quickly
  • Once again, because they're part of the union they are SUPER active when it comes to voice -- said they do "it all"
  • Said canvassing was the most important -- you have to look someone in the eyes and ask for their support and explain why it is important
  • When asked who should run for President next time, they couldn't think of anyone right away...finally mentioned Al Gore (was super sad)



  • They talked about how "they got Kamala Davis elected" and got the proposition on housing passed. Took personal pride in accomplishing these outcomes.
  • One woman had started a skin care business out of her home, but didn't know how to get help sourcing supplies or with marketing -- she was willing to put in the hard work but needed support.
  • Several of them talked about a particular challenge for their type of work (home care) -- when your client passes away or doesn't need you any more, it can take time to find another client -- you have to collect unemployment, but it's so little it barely helps
Jonathan Ota