MIGRANTE Northern California Workers Stand In Solidarity with Filipino Workers and Victims of Grand Isle Shipyard in New Orleans

For Immediate Release

February 6, 2013

Reference: Mario De Mira, MIGRANTE Northern California, mario@filipinocc.org, (415) 333-6267

 MIGRANTE Northern California Workers Stand In Solidarity with Filipino Workers and Victims of Grand Isle Shipyard in New Orleans

In November 2012, an explosion on a Gulf Coast oil platform, owned by Black Elk Energy and staffed by Grand Isle Shipyards (GIS), Inc., claimed the lives of three Filipino migrant workers not far from New Orleans, Louisiana. Following the deaths of the migrant workers, 100 or more employees of GIS have filed a lawsuit against the corporation and others reporting a range of horrific working conditions from millions of dollars in wage theft, inhumane work hours, substandard living facilities, illegal recruiting, and threats of deportation, to name a few.  (Please, visit http://j4gisfilipinoworkers.wordpress.com/ for more information.)

In our organization, we have members who were also victims of labor trafficking in similar industries in the different parts of the US. Now our members who escaped these tragic circumstances are working in other unstable industries such as domestic and caregiving work. For this reason MIGRANTE Nor Cal are in spirit with the workers of GIS as we come from the same exploitative conditions.

We believe the lethargic response of the Philippine consulate to the campaign for justice for the deceased workers and current workers is deplorable. We want to highlight that the Philippine government has, in the past, sought out opportunities to broker Filipino workers to multinational corporations like GIS. And although the GIS case highlights workers’ vulnerability and exploitation, the Philippine government and its representation by Ambassador Jose Cuisia, continues to entertain business with exploitative corporations such as GIS.While migrants abroad are hailed as heroes of our homeland, the Philippines, our dignity and protection by the Philippine government is repeatedly neglected and discarded.

The members of Migrante Northern California extend our solidarity to the victims of the Black Elk Explosion and to the Filipino workers at Grand Isle Shipyard (GIS) in New Orleans, Louisiana. As migrant Filipino workers here in the US, we are calling for all Filipinos to unite and advance the campaign to seek justice for the victims of the Black Elk Explosion. We will not stand by as the legacy of slavery and discrimination continues with a different set of imported migrant workers from the Philippines or any other country, and we support local workers in their struggle to have more voices at work and in their communities as well.

We, Migrante Northern California, will join a fact-finding mission led by the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) on February 22-25, 2013 in New Orleans to deepen our understanding of the experiences of Filipino migrant workers within GIS.We call out to the other Filipino workers at GIS to step forward and join the fight initiated by 17 workers, but now including over 100 former employees, with the class action suit against the harsh conditions, oppression, and exploitation suffered at the hands of GIS and DNR Resources among others. We also call out to the broader Filipino community, members of the church, regional associations, youth and students and professional Filipinos to join the campaign for “Justice for the GIS Filipino Workers” because all of us are or have had family members who have been migrant workers.

Justice for Filipino Grand Isle Shipyard Workers!

Justice for all migrant workers!

Migrante Northern California stands with Filipino GIS Workers!

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