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Lora Jo Foo Papers, 1980-2009
16 boxes (14 linear ft.)
Collection number: MS 561

Abstract:
Lawyer; Labor organizer. Materials documenting Foo's activism in advocating for the rights of immigrant workers in the U.S., primarily via the Asian Law Caucus and Sweatshop Watch; plus published writings, speeches, and interviews.

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

The papers are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection.

This collection has not been fully processed and therefore may be difficult to use.

Access to audiovisual materials may first require production of research copies.

Restrictions on use:

Lora Jo Foo retains copyright ownership for her writings. Permission must be obtained to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use." Copyright to materials authored by others may be owned by those individuals or their heirs or assigns. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights. Permission to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use" must also be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection as owners of the physical property.

Sophia Smith Collection
Smith College
Northampton, MA

Biographical Note

Lora Jo Foo is a labor organizer and attorney specializing in employment/labor law. She is a native of San Francisco, born and raised in the Chinatown community, where she began working as a garment worker in a sweatshop at the age of 11. She went back into a garment factory to work after college, this time as a union organizer. She then became a hotel worker and was a leader in the 1980 citywide strike of 6000 San Francisco hotel workers. After graduating from law school, she worked for a private labor law firm representing unions.

From 1992 to 2000, she was the employment/labor attorney for the Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco, California where she represented Asian American immigrant workers in sweatshop industries - garment, restaurant, construction, domestic and other low-wage industries, in their struggles for decent wages and working conditions. Ms. Foo's numerous litigation successes as an attorney for the Caucus include the 1993 case of Anna Chan et al v. Moviestar, in which she obtained the first judgment from a California court holding a garment manufacturer responsible for the wages of its subcontractor's employees. In 1998 she won the Cuadra et al v. Labor Commissioner case before the state Supreme Court, a case which ensured that workers throughout California who utilize the administrative process to recover unpaid wages would recover 100% instead of a diminished portion due to an arbitrary method of calculations by the agency. In 1999 she led a statewide coalition of garment worker advocates in passing the California Garment Accountability Bill, which holds retailers and apparel firms strictly liable for the minimum wage and overtime violations of their contractors.

Ms. Foo stopped litigating in 2000, returned to school, and obtained a Masters in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 2002. In 2004, she returned to her roots as a labor organizer and was the National Coordinator of the AFL-CIO's Voting Rights Protection Program, where she launched programs to protect the vote in 11 battleground states. In 2006 she joined the California Faculty Association as its Northern California Organizing Director.

Foo co-founded the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum and was its National Chair from 1996 to 1998. She is also a co-founder of the California-based Sweatshop Watch and served as its Board President from 1995 to 2004. In 1995 she attended the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. She is the author of Asian American Women: Issues, Concerns and Responsive Human and Civil Rights Advocacy, published by the Ford Foundation in September 2002 (second edition, 2007).

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Lora Jo Foo Papers document her work as a lawyer, activist, and labor organizer, advocating for the rights of immigrant workers in the U.S., primarily via the Asian Law Caucus and Sweatshop Watch. Included are legal and legislative documents from garment worker and sweatshop labor lawsuits and legislative initiatives in which Foo was involved: the Korean immigrant electronic workers (In re: USM Technology, for unpaid wages); Cuadra v. California Labor Commissioner (overturning State policy of awarding partial rather than full wages to workers who utilize its hearing process); Bay Area Garment Industry (charges of conspiracy between clothing manufacturers, designers and retailers, and passage of California Assembly Bill 633); and Chan v. Ocean Garment (re: liability for unpaid wages). Other cases include: Florentino V. Ramirez et al. v. American Mutual Protective Bureau (Filipino private security guards allegedly being transferred away from their jobs due to their accents); 1980 San Francisco Hotel Strike (stalled contract negotiations between hotel workers and the Hotel Employers Association); St. Francis Maids Arbitration (dispute between St. Francis Hotel and Local 2 of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees and Bartenders Union re: maids being allowed to take their breaks). Types of materials include correspondence and emails, writings, audiovisual materials, reports, grant proposals, speeches, interviews, legislative documents, legal files, notes, research files, conference materials, and memorabilia. There are also printed materials generated by Sweatshop Watch; conference materials from the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China; the National Lawyers Guild; and videotaped interviews.

[NOTE: The contents list for this collection is not online. Contact the Sophia Smith Collection if you would like one sent to you.]


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

The papers are open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection.

This collection has not been fully processed and therefore may be difficult to use.

Access to audiovisual materials may first require production of research copies.

Restrictions on use:

Lora Jo Foo retains copyright ownership for her writings. Permission must be obtained to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use." Copyright to materials authored by others may be owned by those individuals or their heirs or assigns. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights. Permission to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use" must also be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection as owners of the physical property.

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

Lora Jo Foo Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.

History of the Collection

The Lora Jo Foo Papers were donated to the Sophia Smith Collection by Lora Jo Foo from 2007 to 2009. Periodic additions to her papers are expected.

Accruals:

Periodic additions to collection are expected and may not be reflected in this record.

Processing Information

Accessioned by Burd Schlessinger.


Additional Information
Contact Information
Sophia Smith Collection
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: (413) 585-2970
Fax: (413) 585-2886

Email Reference Form: http://www.smith.edu/libraries/libs/ssc/emailform.html
URL: http://www.smith.edu/libraries/libs/ssc/

Language
English


Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

Subjects
  • Asian Americans--History--Sources
  • Asian American women--Biography--Sources
  • Asian Law Caucus
  • Chinese Americans--Biography--Sources
  • Foo, Lora Jo
  • Immigrants--United States--History--Sources
  • Labor laws and legislation--California--History--Sources
  • Labor leaders--United States--Biography--Sources
  • National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum
  • NGO Forum on Women, Beijing '95
  • San Francisco (Calif.)--Social conditions
  • Sweatshops--California--San Francisco
  • Sweatshop Watch (San Francisco, CA)


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