EMPLEO Pinoy renews fight to protect workers

by Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN News

LOS ANGELES — Under any administration in any place, workers rights, wage theft, and discrimination continues to be an issue. Filipinos are continuing to team up with the government to help those who may have fallen victim.

With community partners pitching in either with time, expertise, or finances, and government agencies trying to enforce the law — in Los Angeles, the Pilipino Workers Center is continuing to push the EMPLEO Pinoy Program.

The program hopes to empower workers, regardless of job or immigration status, to protect them from worker abuses of all kinds.  

“Everyone deserves dignity, everyone deserves respect,” said Pilipino Workers Center executive director, Aqui Versoza Soriano. “At this time more and more people are coming together to support our community… to support people who are coming forward to protect their rights, worker rights, immigrant rights, women’s rights. It’s all basic human rights.”

Recent months have seen a spike in hate crimes nationwide. Partners believe EMPLEO Pinoy is even more crucial in helping those in need, through with the help of government agencies or legal council. 

 “We are prioritizing, where we see discrimination and harassment, especially involving vulnerable workers, workers who are low rage, who may be undocumented,” said Christine Park-Gonzalez, from Equal Employment Opportunity. “They still have the right to file with us, so that doesn’t change. We’re seeing the most important thing for the community… is raise your voices.  

Despite a new Trump administration and uncertainties, long running laws that protect worker rights will continue.

 It’s still the same law, still the same protections,” says labor Atty. Joe Salas. “We are against discrimination, laws against discrimination… under state law, under California law, are very much in place. Even if you see hostile conduct like that… [it] shows importance in collaboration among nonprofit agencies, governmental agencies, and private professionals in putting an end towards discrimination.”

 When discriminated workers call the hotline 1-877-Tulong-1, it links them to proper government agencies which will help investigate and enforce any possible violation.

 “We have a great opportunity to reach out to more Pinoys….people who have questions. People who have concerns about things going on in their workplace,” said Danny Pasquil Dist. Director of US Labor Depart Wage & Hr Division. “You have a one-stop shop to reach all of us.”

The information remains confidential, and legal help could be coordinated — resulting in compensation, settlements, or in the case of this one former seasonal farmworker who was eventually forced into a hotel job, a trafficking visa. 

No matter how much uncertainty a new political climate may bring, members of the government, non-profit groups, and the private sector vow to continue reaching out to the most vulnerable communities and bringing the necessary services to them. 

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