Arlene Inouye, secretary of United Teachers of Los Angeles, and Trinity Tran, leader of Public Bank-L.A., were honored on Nov. 30 by Asian American Pacific Islanders for Bernie Sanders as “Asian American Women Warriors” who made historic contributions to improve the lives of Californians in 2019.
The recognition took place at Café Bleu in Koreatown following a watch party for the Democratic presidential candidates’ debate.
Inouye was born and raised in Los Angeles. Her grandparents emigrated from Japan to Boyle Heights, and her family was incarcerated during World War II. Three generations of her family have attended LAUSD schools.
As secretary of United Teachers of Los Angeles, she led the UTLA bargaining team during the historic 30,000-strong L.A. teachers strike, which lasted from Jan. 14 to 22 and won improvements for students and communities, including:
• A full-time nurse in every school
• More counselors and librarians
• Decrease in class sizes across the board
• 6 percent pay raise with no trade-off health-care concessions
• Political support for a statewide moratorium on charters
• End to racist “random” searches
• Building green spaces at schools
• Establishment of an immigrant defense fund
UTLA recently endorsed Sanders for president by an overwhelming 80 percent.
Inouye has also been a community organizer, human rights activist, parent educator, multicultural and human relations specialist, and leader in progressive educational reform.
She has served as an executive board member of Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), secretary of the California Teachers Association’s (CTA) Pacific Asian American Caucus, and founder/director of Coalition for Alternatives to Militarism in Our Schools (CAMS).
Tran, a Vietnamese American born and raised in Southern California, has dedicated her life to transforming economic institutions to create lasting progressive change. She is the co-founder and lead organizer of California Public Banking Alliance, Public Bank L.A. and Divest L.A.
In February 2017, she created Divest L.A., which successfully mobilized activists behind the campaign to move the City of Los Angeles’ public funds from Wells Fargo. In June 2017, she co-founded Public Bank L.A., which led the Measure B ballot initiative to create a city-owned bank in Los Angeles.
In June 2018, Tran was a founding member of the California Public Banking Alliance and lead organizer for a statewide coalition of grassroots groups that conceived of and sponsored AB 857, a state legislative bill to create local public banks in California. The Public Banking Act was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Oct. 2.
Los Angeles was the epicenter of Wells Fargo’s fraudulent creation of millions of accounts without the knowledge or approval of customers. The city was also hit hard.
The law will allow local public banks governed by citizens to offer banking services with less risk since they will not be “gambling” on investments with customers’ savings. Local governments will be able to save millions in banking fees paid to mega-banks that can be used for housing, education and other needs.
“Asian women or anyone who benefits our kids and working people by strikes and grassroots activism rarely receive the recognition that is due to them by the mainstream media, even when their contributions are game-changing,” stated David Monkawa of AAPIs for Bernie.
AAPIs for Bernie is a volunteer organization and is not connected to the Sanders campaign.