Asian-American scientists end two-year lab boycott

Monday March 18, 2002

LIVERMORE, Calif. — After two years of urging Asian-American scientists to pass up jobs at nuclear weapons labs, the Berkeley professor who organized the boycott says he’s proven his point. 

“I am committed not only to ending this boycott, but also to becoming actively involved in recruiting Asian-Americans to these labs,” Ling-chi Wang said. 

Officials at Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos national laboratories agree a negotiated deal is near. 

Wang, a longtime activist, is still waiting for a written plan that would address issues of promotion, disparity in pay and a workplace culture that sometimes leaves Asian-American employees feeling left out. 

“As long as that type of discrimination exists, there’s no reason an Asian-American scientist would want to go in there and work in these Department of Energy labs,” he told the San Jose Mercury News for a story Sunday. 

Wang, the head of the ethnic-studies program at the University of California-Berkeley, initiated the boycott at a conference of Asian-Pacific Americans in Higher Education in Long Beach in March 2000. He persuaded the organization to pass a resolution calling for “all Asian-American scientists and engineers not to apply for jobs at the national labs.” The resolution came at a vulnerable time for the labs. As a result of the Wen Ho Lee case, Los Alamos and Livermore had already seen a drastic drop in the number of Asians, both U.S. citizens and foreigners, applying for assignments at the labs.