NorCal Filipinos call for an end to workers’ abuse on May Day protests

In the heart of NorCal’s Silicon Valley, kababayans joined the thousands who denounced the so-called unfair treatment of immigrant workers on May 1st.

Filipinos were among the thousands who marched throughout the streets of San Jose under the blistering heat, as part of International Worker’s Day.

These workers and their advocates say they marched to stand up for all workers with or without valid immigration status — because all workers are vital to the country’s labor force.

“This is a day without immigrants, a day without workers. And we’re showing the power of immigrants and workers to really shape government policies and keep this economy a float,” said Michael Tayag from the Pilipino Association of Workers and Immigrants.

These workers advocates say immigrant workers, including Filipinos, usually become victims of abusive employers who do not pay fair wages and violate their rights.

“A lot of our kababayans in the Filipino community are forced are again by poverty, landlessness, and government corruption in the Philippines, and pushed to migrate to countries like the US for work,” said Tayag. “Yet when they come here, they often face issues like wage theft, human trafficking, exploitation, and sexual abuse in their workplaces.”

While many people in May Day marches around the country are protesting what they call the divisive rhetoric of President Donald Trump that marginalizes immigrants, some Filipinos are also calling out Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for what he said about undocumented Filipinos in the US.

“Now we know that both these people are anti-immigrant because of what Trump is doing and Duterte, of course, has said undocumented Filipino immigrants here should not be helped and just shipped back home,” said Vivian Zalvidea Araullo from the Filipino-American Human Rights Alliance. “This is alarming. It’s important for our people to stand up and fight back right now.”

Thousands of people participated in numerous protests throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

The demonstrations were mainly peaceful, with the exception of the four protesters who were arrested for civil disobedience in Oakland.

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