Justice Denied: Wards Cove Packing v. Atonio

In the 1970s, led by Filipino activists, workers in Alaskan canneries organized and filed class actions against unfair and discriminatory working conditions that had prevailed for decades against Asian American cannery workers.

Special thanks to David Weinberg of JuryGroup for creating the slide presentation that accompanies the script.

David Weinberg Jury Group Logo rsz


NARRATOR 2:   In Section 2 of the Act, Congress specifically identified the Wards Cove decision as an impetus for the reform, asserting that “the decision of the Supreme Court in Wards Cove Packing Co. v. Atonio has weakened the scope and effectiveness of Federal civil rights protections.”  Congress, however, also carved out an exception with respect to Wards Cove: only the employees of Wards Cove were to be unable to benefit from the Act’s remedies.  The reaction was swift.  [All three come to stand at center stage, in order.  Each steps to mike in turn.]  Here are Gloria Caoile, of the Philippine Heritage Foundation; a writer for the National Law Journal; and the Chairperson of the Seattle Human Rights Commission:

GLORIA CAOILE:  This is like saying everyone can sit in the front of the bus except for Rosa Parks.

NLJ WRITER:  For the first time in American history, a civil rights act contained an exemption for a single employer.  It was later revealed that the cannery had spent $175,000 in lobbying fees.

HUMAN RIGHTS CHAIRPERSON:  It’s as if the Supreme Court had issued its Brown v. Board of Education decision to desegregate the schools but excluded Blacks in Topeka, Kansas.


Ward’s Cove Trial Reenactment, New York City Bar Association, December 7, 2015

Justice Denied: Wards Cove Packing Co. v. Atonio
Performed by AABANY at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, May 12, 2015, New York City

Wards Cove Packing Co v. Atonio, A Tale of Injustice
Presented by the Pan Asian Lawyers of San Diego, San Diego, March 25, 2015

Wards Cove - Arlene Yang, Terri Mast, Jonah TolenoWards Cove - Terri MastWards Cove - 07


Wards Cove Packing Co. v. Atonio, performed by AABANY at Cadwalader on May 12, 2015



NYC Bar Association, New York, NY, December 7, 2015
Cadwalader, New York, NY, May 12, 2015 (SEE VIDEO, ABOVE)
NAPABA Annual Convention, Scottsdale, AZ, November 8, 2014


Justice Denied: Wards Cover Packing c. v. Atonio, University at Buffalo School of Law, November 29, 2017
Justice Denied: Wards Cove Packing Co. v. Atonio, ​Oregon Filipino American Lawyers Association (OFALA), the Council of Filipino American Association (CFAA), and Filipino American National Historic Society (FANHS), Vancouver, WA, October, 21, 2017
Filipino American Lawyers Association of Chicago and the Loyola University Chicago School of Law’s Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, Chicago, Illinois, October 27, 2016
Justice Denied: Wards Cove Packing Co. v. Atonio, FAHNS Conference, John Jay College, New York, NY, June 23, 2016
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Washington, DC, May 27, 2015
Pan Asian Lawyers of San Diego, San Diego, CA, March 25, 2015