Han Dong Fang has been fighting for workers rights in China since the first shot was fired at Tiananmen Square in 1989. But throughout his long career as a trade union activist and reformer, the veteran activist is driven by a belief in a peaceful transition to democracy. A former railway worker who marched alongside student dissidents in Beijing and endured prison for his activism, Han heads China Labour Bulletin , a Hong Kong-based watchdog and advocacy organization that tracks the struggles of China’s budding independent labor movement. Although China’s formal unions are state controlled, CLB helps workers develop grassroots campaign strategies aimed at stopping abuse and exploitation and encouraging collective bargaining to improve wages and working conditions.
Han argues that, despite the suppression of China's independent labor activists and restrictions on free assembly, there is growing momentum for a real workers’ rights movement, and he believes that this will help Chinese workers forge a path to democracy. Whether you think his reform approach is too gradual or too radical, Han's insights are worth a listen. Because, since China plays such a massive role in the global production chain, the future of China’s labor movement is the future of all labor movements everywhere.
In recent months, activists have been rallying to defend the city’s immigrant communities from deportation, pressuring Mayor Bill De Blasio to cut off the city’s cooperation with federal immigration enforcement. If you’re friends, coworkers or neighbors with an immigrant, this issue probably touches your life in some way. So what does it mean for people’s everyday lives when they or their family lives in terror of being detained and exiled every day? A panel discussion, sponsored by Dissent Magazine and moderated by APF's Michelle Chen at this year’s Left Forum about President Obama’s egregious track record on deportation--having overseen about two million deportations since 2008. we speak to Daniel Coates of Make the Road NY and Abraham Paulos of Families for Freedom about how immigrants are responding to and resisting the deportation threat.