Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Delaware AFL-CIO Leaders in Hot Water After Anti-Asian Comments

Back in April 2020, James Maravelias — president of the Delaware AFL-CIO and president of the Delaware Building Trades — posted a number of “public Facebook posts that seem[ed] to cross the line into racial remarks by blaming Asians for the coronavirus.”

One post implied that Greeks and Sicilians — Maravelias’ own heritage — were ‘superior’ “because of their blood.” Another was a crude cartoon of a Chinese Adam and Eve being asked by a serpent if they wanted an apple. The cartoon then showed the two roasting the serpent over a fire, encouraging one commenter to respond: “If aliens from outer space came to earth they would eat them lol.” Maraveillas posted the cartoon with the comment: “Here you go come on you know it’s funny.” It was a clear reference to the wet markets in China where coronavirus was said to have originated from.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, yet another now-deleted post featured “a video of people eating wild animals where Maravelias wrote: ‘Hey snowflakes…See no nationality to insult your feelings…BUT eating this [expletive] is why the virus COVID-19 has killed a couple of hundred thousand people so far.’”

After reports came out highlighting Maravelias’ racist Facebook activity, he issued a public apology. But that wasn’t the end of the AFL-CIO’s troubles.

This past Summer, Delaware State Representative and Executive Director of the state AFL-CIO Gerald Brady was asked to resign after an email was leaked in which he used an Asian slur. From an official government email, Brady sent the following message:

“Is the dude basically saying, if we provide free [sex acts] for Uncle Pervie there will be few rapes and chink broads will be shipped in CONEX containers to the Port of Wilmington??” 

As a result, Brady said he would not run for reelection. But for many, it wasn’t good enough. The founder of Delaware Asian American Voice took to social media saying, “We’re talking about setting an example for future lawmakers. Not running for reelection? For me, it’s not enough.”

The Delaware Chinese American Association also condemned Brady’s remarks saying, “Mr. Brady’s careless use of archaic racist and sexist slurs has struck us hard again…It is a painful reminder of the cultural, gender and racial intolerance that many communities continue to face each day.” We can only imagine the Delaware AFL-CIO’s members must feel the same.

In the middle of these two scandals, the national AFL-CIO put out a press release condemning Anti-Asian racism “in all forms.” The release quoted former AFL-CIO president Richard Trumpka saying, “The entire labor movement is appalled by the continued rise in anti-Asian racism across the country.” Conveniently, the union left out the racist comments made within its own ranks.

Categories: AFL-CIO