Filipino workers and immigrants in New York

celebrate May Day 2011






Photos courtesy of Bea Sabino & Jonna Baldres

For Immediate Release
May 6, 2011

Reference: Garry Labao, BAYAN USA , e-mail:
photo credits: Bea Sabino & Jonna Baldres

Filipino-American Alliance BAYAN USA Joins Historic May Day Action in New York City

Wielding giant paper-mache hammers, the international symbol for workers, member organizations of the US chapters of Philippine national democratic alliances BAYAN and Gabriela mobilized and marched along thousands of immigrant workers, community and workers organizations, and various labor unions from Union Square to Foley Square in New York City during this year's May Day commemoration.

Hanalei Ramos, BAYAN USA North East coordinator, blasted from the stage in Union Square that the Filipinos are "celebrating the ongoing militant class struggle of workers for living wages, job security, and safe working conditions." Ramos emphasized the need for unity between immigrants and workers in the US and that "workers in the US, both citizen and immigrant, play a decisive role of exposing the bankruptcy of the neo-liberal economic agenda responsible for the worst economic crisis in history."

BAYAN USA also paid tribute to the Filipino workers by recognizing the ongoing militant trade union movement at the forefront of the struggle for genuine national independence from US intervention in the Philippines as well as demanding jobs for American workers and the legalization of all undocumented immigrants.

Meanwhile the Chairperson of Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), Irma Bajar representing GABRIELA USA, reminded the audience to "continue to fight for the workers, fight for the women, fight for our children." Bajar denounced US imperialism for driving Filipinos, mostly women, out of the Philippines to look for work abroad. She also criticized President Obama for the continuing suffering of American women workers and immigrant workers. She appealed for all workers including men, women, lesbians, gays and transgendered people to unite and to "take to the streets to fight and organize together for legalization for all."

The annual May Day commemoration in Union Square has been organized by the New York City May 1st Coalition since 2006. The rally swelled into the tens of thousands before marching along Broadway to merge with another rally being held at the Foley Square organized by labor unions. Speakers representing various unions, worker organizations, immigrant rights groups and communities spoke about the importance of unity and the need to continue to struggle for just wages, more jobs, legalization for all and other demands. In between speakers and cultural performances Jackie Mariano, also from GABRIELA and a BAYAN USA co-coordinator led the huge crowd with inspiring chants and slogans as a co-emcee of the event.

According to Garry Labao of the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), also a member organization of BAYAN USA, this May Day commemoration is "a historic occasion because for the first time since the formation of the May 1st Coalition in 2006 labor unions and immigrants are joining together for a unified rally." He said that in previous years there have been separate May Day actions in the city. "Separate mobilizations on May Day is divisive because unionized labor, non-unionized labor, documented and undocumented immigrants need to unite and fight for a common cause. This year unions and immigrants united under demands from basic human rights to decent jobs to legalization for all," he added.

The New Jersey Chapter of the Filipino youth organization Anakbayan called for public funding of education and other social services. Yves Nibungco, Anakbayan Chairperson, stated "the state should stop cutting down the budget for education because many students, particularly those children of working class and immigrants can no longer afford to go to college in order to get decent jobs." He added "the youth and students here in the US are losing their opportunity to have a better future. The only way to ensure a bright future is to join and unite with the workers and immigrants in their struggle for a society that puts the need of the people above profit."

BAYAN USA is a national alliance of 14 Filipino organizations in the United States representing youth, students, women, workers, artists and human rights advocates working for the social and economic justice in the Philippines and for Filipinos in the US. BAYAN USA was a convenor of the New York May 1st Coalition and remains a coordinating committee member. ###


For Immediate Release
04 May 2011

Reference: Jonna Baldres, NAFCON-US North East Coordinator
Email:, (718) 5658862

Filipino Workers and Immigrants in NY Show Strength and Resistance on May Day

New York, NY – National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), and its member and allied migrants' and workers' organizations in the northeast of the United States, including Philippine Forum, Anakbayan New York/New Jersey, New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), BAYAN USA, GABRIELA USA, Nodutdol for Korean Community Development, Movimiento Independiente Trabajadores and Frente Unido de Inmigrantes Ecuatorianos, made their voices heard on the May 1st rally that began at Union Square at 12PM. Holding giant hammers with "Immigrants' power" and "Workers' power" written on them, Filipino workers and students in red, struck at people wearing boxes with signs such as Union-Busting, Labor Export Policy, Human Trafficking, and Raids and Deportations to represent the resistance of migrants and workers, undocumented or documented, against these repressive, oppressive and anti-human policies and practices.

NAFCON, and its member organizations across the U.S. have been an active force in the May 1st Coalition since the coalition began in 2005 to fight for the rights of immigrants and workers. This year, NAFCON and their immigrant allies, have focused their fight for all workers, as attacks have increased over the past year. From racist legislative bills such as the Arizona SB1070, to bills attacking union rights, to increased labor trafficking of Filipino migrant workers, the Filipino migrant community sees the need to intensify its campaigns to protect workers’ rights and to continue the fight for legalization for all.

"NAFCON recognizes and demands that the governments, both US and countries of origin, should take up the responsibility to protect its workers and do their best to provide and assure workers, migrants or not, documented or undocumented, of the benefits and best working conditions possible. Without the workers, the countries will not have anything. It's not the workers' faults if they need to migrate and take up jobs in other countries as they are forced to take these measures because their governments cannot provide. And when they come here to the US, it's the same thing, workers' rights get attacked. We, in the Filipino community, will not let this continue," said Julia Camagong, Co-Executive Director of Philippine Forum and Vice President for NAFCON.

With the May 1st Coalition, NAFCON contingent marched along Broadway all the way to Foley Square to merge with the unions who were also having a program. At Foley Square, group discussions were conducted for the workers to share their plight with the youth and other members and allies.

Felipe Asuncion, an organizer for AnakBayan - New York, an organization of immigrant youth, relates that, “While we were at the rally, we walked and talked with the Filipino workers who have been trafficked. They could have been our mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers. More than that, they could have been us. In the future, we will be workers ourselves. It’s important that we fight for their rights because those are our rights, whether it’s the right to work or the right to feed our families.”

NAFCON calls on its communities and their allies, to continue the struggle and join the campaigns of NAFCON in protecting immigrants and workers. For more information on NAFCON campaigns, please visit

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