by Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN News
LOS ANGELES — Federal labor and Philippine officials have vowed to continue fighting for the rights of overseas Filipino workers, regardless of their job or immigration status.
The continuation of a partnership in the battle for workers rights.
For the last 5 years, the US Labor Department and Philippine Consulate have been working together to inform Filipino workers of their rights while protecting them from abuse, regardless of immigration status.
They recently renewed the vow to protect workers with a signing ceremony.
“The signing of this arrangement is in keeping with the consulates programs in pursuit of the third pillar of Philippine foreign policy which is the protection of the rights and the promotion of the welfare and interests of Filipinos overseas,” said Los Angeles PH Consul General Adel Cruz.
Protecting and fighting for Filipino workers is something US regional director Ruben Rosalez takes pride in — especially during his early days as an investigator, working with Filipino farm workers.
While many worker exploitation cases have been found in the health care industry, the US Labor Department is looking at every industry, finding people who are making as little as two dollars and hour, with no breaks.
They make it a point to collect money for abused workers.
“We don’t conclude our cases until they’re all paid up. Sometimes we have to go into litigation though, we have to use our lawyers and that can take a lot of time,” said Ruben Rosalez, who serves as district director of the Labor Department. “I can tell you at the federal level. We don’t close those cases until everyone is paid.”
Tips come from workers themselves.
The Labor Department says immigration status should not prevent workers from seeking justice.
“We understand in the current climate,” Rosalez added. “A lot of workers are afraid to talk to people in the government and we’re not immigration. I want to make that very clear; we’re not part of it we don’t share information with immigration at all. We’re here to help.”
In the years they’ve created this partnership, they’ve successfully gotten the community involved with the EMPLEO Pinoy hotline — one of the ways they find those that need help.