FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Reference: Raquel Redondiez, Chairperson, GABRIELA-USAEmail: chair@gabusa.org 

May 1, 2011 — On International Worker’s Day, member organizations of GABRIELA-USA: Babae-San Francisco, Samahan ng Kababaihan San Francisco (SAMAKA), Pinay sa Seattle, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) in New York and Sisters of GABRIELA Awaken (SiGAw) in Los Angeles stand together with the international community to defend the rights of workers, especially the majority of whom fall victim to exploitative situations and are deprived of their basic rights. This May 1st, we are mobilizing and participating in local May Day marches hosted in our respective cities, to celebrate and stand in solidarity with workers worldwide. 

As the on-going economic crisis continues to devastate working families, especially immigrant communities and women, the fight to protect their rights is ever more crucial as scapegoating and deportations threaten our families and livelihood. As an example, domestic workers and caregivers have taken unprecedented steps to ensure equal protection and recognition for their work. In California, the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights is in progress of reaching the state senate for passage. This bill would grant fair wages and standards to protect them from exploitation, including their right to overtime pay and at least 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Last fall, this Bill of Rights was passed in New York and other states have yet to catch up in improving working conditions for domestic workers, many of whom are immigrant women. We must also continue the fight against wage theft in home care facilities and build on last year’s victory where Filipino caregivers in San Francisco, Victoria Aquino and Lourdes Torres won over $70,000 in unpaid wages and penalties after filing suit against their employer. 

As immigrant workers are continually scapegoated during the economic crisis, we must expose the root causes of forced migration.  Due to unequal U.S. foreign policies and trade agreements along with the cooperation of puppet governments, the working poor in 3rd world countries are forced to leave and seek work elsewhere.  As an example, the systematization of the Labor Export Program (LEP) in the Philippines currently forces nearly 4,000 Filipinos to leave their country everyday, 70% of whom are women.

However, even through a government-sponsored export program, protection of their rights as workers is not guaranteed. In fact, in July 2010, a group of workers from the Philippines arrived in the U.S., hoping to provide for their families back home. Treated as indentured servants, 11 of them escaped and sought out for help in Los Angeles. To this day, the Philippine government has given very limited support to this group of workers, now known as “Luha Ko”, pushing them to turn to local grassroots organizations in seeking justice.

GABRIELA-USA calls on all women and their families to continue the struggle against forced migration and for comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S.  We join the working men and women of the broad immigrant rights movement to demand from the Obama administration an end to the raids and deportation that are tearing our families apart! As vital contributors to the U.S. economy, immigrant workers, whether documented or undocumented, need protection, not criminalization! 

Justice and Protection for all Workers!Pass the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in California!Legalization for ALL immigrant workers! 

 
Sunday, May 1st Marches in local GABRIELA-USA regions:
FiRE – New YorkMARCH AND RALLY at UNION SQUARE! WEAR RED and meet at 12pm on the SE corner of Union Square (Across from ShoeMania).  Look for our GORGEOUS rainbow FiRE flag!

Pinay sa SeattleMeet at Hidmo parking lot (20th and Jackson) at 12 noon. We’ll be wearing tubaos. We’re joining the annual May 1st march led by El Comite, and we’ll be marching with  local Bayan forces and in solidarity with our API Unified contingent. 

Babae and SAMAKA of San FranciscoMeet at 24th Street and Mission at 12 noon. WEAR RED. Local Bayan and GABRIELA organizations are joining AROC (meeting near Bank of the West), and Progressive Workers Alliance (behind McDonalds). 

SiGAw in Los AngelesMeet at Broadway & Olympic at 10am. Marching in Downtown LA as a part of the Southern California Immigration Coalition.