“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” – Frederick Douglass
Joann Lo is the Executive Director of the Food Chain Workers Alliance. She graduated from Yale University with a degree in Environmental Biology and first organized with SEIU after college. In 2000, Joann was one of two staff who started the Garment Worker Center, and she organized with garment workers in Los Angeles who led a successful campaign against retailer Forever 21, memorialized in the Emmy-winning documentary “Made in L.A.” In 2005 Joann joined Enlace, an alliance of worker centers and unions and a year later became Co-Director. Joann is a member of the City of Los Angeles’ Sweatfree Advisory Committee, the Building a Market for Good Food working group of the LA Food Policy Council, and the Restaurant Opportunities Center of LA Advisory Board.
Labor topics Joann can speak about
Food-system workers, worker centers, immigrant worker organizing
What union leadership positions (E.g., Officer, Committee Member, etc.) have you held and/or currently hold?
I was a shop steward for my staff union at SEIU Local 399; I was a bargaining committee member for our staff union at the Garment Worker Center.
How and why did you become involved in the Labor Movement?
I was well aware of racism as an Asian American growing up in Ohio. When I went to college, the two unions representing the university employees were in a struggle to protect their jobs from subcontracting and to protect their benefits. Getting involved in that struggle opened my eyes to the power of people organizing together for social and economic justice.
What labor leader, past or present, had the biggest influence on you? How/why?
I majored in environmental biology and considered going to grad school or organizing with an environmental organization, but then Kent Wong, the director of the UCLA Labor Center, spoke at my university during my senior year about the need for more Asian American organizers in the labor movement and the exciting positive changes happening in the movement. He told me about APALA’s joint training with the AFL-CIO’s Organizing Institute, which I later attended, and that took me on the road that I’m still on of labor organizing and alliance-building.
How can students and faculty connect with you? (I.e. a link to your website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.)