May Day Call to Action!
International Workers’ Day or May Day is a global celebration of the working class and the struggles of the proletariat, with its roots reaching back to the fight for an 8-hour work day, led and popularized by a global alliance of communist and labor parties called the Second International. More than a century later and in the midst of a global pandemic, the urgency to build a strong worker-led movement remains. We see how our society depends on the labor of the working class as they run agriculture, food production and distribution, healthcare, manufacturing, transportation and other industries essential to society. On the other hand, we also see the utter failure of neoliberalism and the anarchic, privatized mode of production in safeguarding the rights, health and safety not just of workers, but of society in general.
Filipino workers conditions in the U.S.:
The majority of Filipinos in the U.S. are part of the working class who are now suffering from unemployment, high risk of exposure to COVID-19 due to the lack of equipment and weak healthcare infrastructure, lack of access to basic needs, and state neglect. Decades of forced migration through the labor export policy have produced legions of overseas Filipino workers who are stranded and neglected. Among them are seafarers and J-1 workers in the U.S.
Hundreds of J-1 workers, who are hospitality workers on the J-1 cultural exchange visa, have experienced massive lay-offs and abandonment from their hosts, visa sponsors, recruitment agencies and U.S. and Philippine governments. Many are unable to return home because of lockdown policies, piling debt, and fear of public health risks. We must expose the J-1 visa program as yet another neoliberal scheme to exploit migrant workers.
Additionally, there are an estimated 400,000 Filipinos working in the maritime industry as seafarers, facing some of the most inhumane treatment and violation of rights before, during, and after disembarkment. Most recently, over 600 workers aboard the Grand Princess Cruise Ship were denied disembarkment, access to testing, and safe quarantine when it docked in Oakland, CA, which resulted in the death of one crewmember on April 1st from COVID-19. Crew members faced abandonment, including 400 workers who were repatriated without proper health treatment or financial support, putting them and their families at risk. Migrante USA and NAFCON supported the workers with their demands for disembarkment, humane treatment, access to testing and health services, safe housing, compensation for lost wages, and covering all costs attendant to repatriating workers to their countries of origin. There is a petition and ongoing efforts to hold Grand Princess Cruises responsible.
There is also a high concentration of Filipino workers and professionals in the healthcare sector in the U.S., many of whom are women. So far, there have been at least 9,000 cases of COVID-19 among health care workers and 27 reported deaths. We must support their organizing efforts for personal protective equipment (PPE), hazard pay and safer working conditions, while connecting to their experience of forced migration due to the three root problems. As of April 18th, there have been 766 healthcare workers with confirmed cases of Covid-19, and 22 reported deaths in the Philippines, amounting to 13 percent of cases in the Philippines. This percentage is much higher than the regional average of 2 to 3 percent. We can draw parallels between the risks and exploitation of health care workers in the homeland, here, and abroad. Duterte’s saying that “It is an honor to die for your country” shows that he has no respect for the lives of healthcare workers and the broad masses, and deserves to be ousted. #OUSTDUTERTE
TAKE ACTION NOW:
- PARTICIPATE in Migrante International’s 5,000 signature gathering campaign for May Day, calling on the Philippine government to immediately release financial assistance for all Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in need and who are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Please sign & share widely: Petition for OFWs (English translation here).
- JOIN the Global Noise Barrage on May 1 (12pm PST) to protect the rights of Filipino migrants and OFWs during this time of pandemic! Participate by posting pictures and videos (at least 15 seconds) of you banging pots on social media with the hashtags below! Refer to these instructions and tag @MigranteUSA & @MigranteInternational. Check out this sample video by Migrante USA
- May Day Webinars:
- Friday, May 1, 1pm PST: Mission to End Modern Slavery (MEMS) Anti-Trafficking Webinar https://www.facebook.com/events/4230039790343367/
- Friday, May 1, 5:30pm PST: GABRIELA USA One Billion Rising online action (concept paper here)
- Saturday, May 2, 7pm PST: Philippine National Situationer in the Time of COVID19 & Duterte (in Tagalog) by Migrante USA webinar RSVP: tinyurl.com/phcovidnatsit
- Nationalize public health systems! Resist and condemn neoliberal policies!
- Solusyon medikal, hindi militar! (Medical solution, not militarization!)
- OFW assistance now!
- Workers of the world unite!
- The workers united will never be defeated!
- Build the migrant worker movement!
- Oust Duterte Now!