Celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month

Celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month 

Updated May 15, 2023 - AFA is proud to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage (AAPI) Month in May, an annual national observance celebrating the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States.

While we celebrate the contributions of trailblazers, this month is not just a time to highlight history—we must take on racism, poverty and inequality today to make lasting change. That starts in our union, in our industry and our country.

Asian and Pacific Islanders Aviation Heroes >

In 2020, COVID-19 forced the world into an unprecedented, ongoing emergency—and hate against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities rose exponentially during the pandemic, stemming from racist rhetoric surrounding the origination of COVID. Between March 2020 and December 2021 there have been nearly 11,000 reported hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, according to a report published by Stop AAPI Hate. 

Last year, our union developed an AAPI pin. Local Councils will receive the pins starting next week and distribute them. Diversity and Inclusion pins were a concept put forward by AFA members through AFA structure. We now have a PRIDE pin, a Black History Month pin, Black Lives Matter pin, AAPI pin, Hispanic-Latinx Heritage Month Pin, and a Native American pin. We expect to hear from additional members who want to celebrate our diverse history, and we will take similar action when we do.

AFA is highlighting Flight Attendant leaders and activists during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and we want to include you or a flying partner! Submit here >

Stan Kiino, United AFA Council 11 SFO

Stan Kiino originally began his career as a Flight Attendant at Pan Am and then joined United Airlines and our union in 1986. Kiino fought for domestic partner benefits in San Francisco while at United in the '90s. He continues his advocacy today at United AFA Council 11 SFO, Pride At Work, the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and various labor councils.

"He has been the SFO shining star when it comes to engagement with Flight Attendants and the Labor Movement. Whether it's showing up at a picket, a Labor Council meeting or bringing people together, Stan is your man!" - Kristie Rivera, United AFA Council 11 President

Sherrie Thompson, AFA  Frontier / International

Sherrie, AFA International's Finance Manager,  previously AFA Frontier MEC Secretary-Treasurer and a member of CWA's Women's committee. 

“Sherrie left extremely large shoes to fill after she took the position at AFA Headquarters. Her abundance of knowledge and willingness to help has made my MECS/T transition less stressful. Her gentle tone and kind spirit makes it easy to come to her with questions. Sherrie is truly missed on the line at Frontier and her presence is celebrated every time she comes to visit.” - Toi Scott, AFA Frontier MEC Secretary-Treasurer

Wendy Kaihara, Horizon AFA Council 16 BOI, PAE, SEA, GEG

Wendy is the LEC Secretary at Horizon AFA Council 16.

"I flew for Pan Am in 1989 until the end and I joined Horizon Air in 1999 and just started my 25th year. My passion for union work began when I started with Horizon Air and joined the EAP/Professional Standards committee and continue union work today as Local 16 Secretary.

I am proud of my heritage. I am a 4th generation Japanese American. My father was interned during WWII with his entire family including my Grandparents and Great Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles. My father was 7 when he entered camp and was 12 when he left. The U.S. Internment of Japanese families separated families. It’s hard to grasp the magnitude of what was done to my family in the U.S. – they were all U.S. citizens."

Read the rest of Wendy's story >

Lee Sugimoto, United AFA Council 14 HNL

Lee is the Grievance Rep. & Benefits Chair at United AFA Council 14. 

"Lee volunteered to become involved in our Local Council soon after transferring to HNL. He has been extremely helpful to the Council 14 Membership and is well respected by his peers." - Kevin Batey, United AFA Council 14 President

Kawehi Apo, AFA Hawaiian Council 43 HNL

Kawehi is the AFA MEC EAP Chair at Hawaiian AFA Council 43. 

"Kawehi Apo is our EAP Chair who is rooted in her Hawaiian Culture and has so much to share with our AFA 'Ohana (family)." - Joshua Aoki, Hawaiian AFA Council 47 President





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