SF Pinoys’ advocacy for fair wages inspired by 1960s farm workers

SAN FRANCISCO – Fifty years ago, thousands of Filipino American labor workers sparked the farm labor movement of the 20th century when they refused to work under unfair wages and working conditions.

And today Pinoys in San Francisco are carrying on the fight for justice.

The Filipino Community Center in San Francisco (FCC) acts as a safe place where kababayans can come for help when facing unfair treatment in the work place.

These kababayans say they draw inspiration from the courage of the farm workers of the past when they fight for their own rights.

“We want to make those connections between the labor history of the past era but also educate and empower people in the broader community and workers now about the issues that are impacting Filipino migrant workers like labor trafficking, wage theft and various other forms of exploitation,” said FCC Staff Mario de Mira.

Over the years, the FCC has been able to win back thousands of dollars in back wages for many Filipinos, especially in the care giving profession where live-in workers have been prone to wage theft and abuse.

“We can’t look at labor wage theft victories as workers winning the lottery or suddenly having this huge sum of money because basically they should have been at the very minimum earning this money throughout the year,” said de Mira.

These advocates say like the farm workers in the 1960s, today’s migrant workers came to the U.S. in search for a better life for their families.

This is why the FCC works so hard to ensure that these Pinoys are treated fairly.

“You have this dual duty of not only taking care of yourself and your family here but you have your family, your kababayans in the Philippines that are needing support and for many that was the reason why they came to this country because of the economic and social crisis that is in the Philippines that forces 6,000 people to leave the country daily,” said de Mira.

“That’s why it’s not easy to immigrate to the US, to leave the country, to be far from any family and then experience abuse. The experience is not all that different from what is happening in the Philippines,” said FCC Staff Edong Pichay.

These community organizers continues to call on more Filipino workers who are experiencing wage theft or other worker rights violations to stand for justice.

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  • Mario
    7 September 2015 at 4:32 pm - Reply

    Pinoy farm workers ask for wage hike?. Blame your politicians, the Democrat,they supported the illegal alien to come here and allowed them to stay in your Sanctuary City. Then the illegals grabbed your farm jobs at a very much lower rate. Illegals accept (under the table wages) $3-5 per hour.Lets hope they will be all deported so that you can get back your job.