Filipinas in New York City March to Defend Workers Rights on May Day

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 2, 2011

Filipinas in New York City March to Defend Workers Rights on May Day

Reference: Irma Bajar, Chairperson, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment; fire.nyc@gmail.com

New York City – On May 1, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment joined 20,000 people at Union Square with the May 1st Coalition to march for job security, workers rights, and legalization for all. The march ended at Foley Square, where the Coalition was greeted by various unions holding a unified May 1st rally.

Today, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) still suffer from damaging work conditions, exploitation, and government neglect. As a result of unequal U.S. foreign policies, trade agreements, and the cooperation of puppet governments, the working poor in third world countries, and specifically the Philippines are forced to leave and find work elsewhere. The Labor Export Program (LEP) in the Philippines is a government system that currently forces close to 4,000 Filipinos to leave the country everyday, 70% of whom are women. Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment urge all women and their families to join the struggle against forced migration and fight for genuine comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. “We demand an end to the raids and deportation that are separating and hurting our families. We march and stand together with women, immigrants, and workers across all communities to defend the rights of workers, especially the majority of whom fall victim to exploitative situations and are deprived of their basic rights,” said Irma Bajar, Chairperson of FiRE.

The slew of neoliberal policies have resulted in the worst global economic crisis faced since the Great Depression. Workers feel the brunt of this crisis, both citizen and immigrant, and remain vulnerable to exploitation. “It’s definitely a pressing issue in the Filipino community as the majority of our people in the United States are marginalized workers. Migrant workers are caught between the Philippine government’s Labor Export Program and racist legislation like SB1070 and House Bill 87 in the US,” explained Cris Hilo, Secretary General of FiRE.

FiRE sisters march for legalization for all.

The march ending with various unions like SEIU 1199 and TWU 100, and made clear the need for workers and immigrants in the United States to collaborate and unite in these dark times. “Job security is a real issue that the media refuses to cover. Union busting, like in Wisconsin, or even locally like the Woodlawn Cemetery Workers strike, leaves all workers, both citizens and immigrants, open to attack,” said Hanalei Ramos, Vice-Chair of FiRE.

As the on-going economic crisis continues to bring hardship to working families, especially immigrant communities and women, it is vital to organize and fight for their rights as scapegoating and deportations threaten their livelihood,” said Candice Sering, FiRE member.

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