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11 July 2011 One Comment

Published : Monday, July 11, 2011 16:41

Written by : Ryan Ponce Pacpaco


TWO progressive party-list lawmakers yesterday blamed unfair labor practices in the United States and its troubled economy for the plight of hundreds of Filipino teachers in Prince George’s County in Maryland.

Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan and Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Rep. Antonio Tinio said the situation of Filipino teachers in Maryland, who are facing immigration issues that may cost them their jobs, is another wake-up call for the government to provide decent and competitive jobs for Filipinos.

Ilagan said the situation of Filipino teachers in Maryand “is one form of exploitation of our OFWs. They are victims of unfair and unjust policies of advanced countries, like the US, which violated labor laws at the expense of migrant workers.”

“The US agencies are actually justifying a clamor to hire their own people now because of the economic crisis. So, they have to look for a legality to get rid of migrant workers,” said Ilagan.

Tinio admitted that Filipino teachers in Maryland ”will likely lose their jobs as well as their right to stay and work in the US.”

“The Filipino teachers in Maryland are doubly victimized, firstly, by the recession in the US, which is forcing school boards like the one in Prince George’s County, to lay off teaching staff, and secondly, by their employers’ failure to comply with labor regulations and the terms of their contracts,” said Tinio.

Reports said that hundreds of Filipino teachers in Maryland received word on Thursday that they will be reimbursed fees they paid in connection with their recruitment, about $4,000 each, but now face the threat their visas will not be renewed on expiry.

According to Millet Panga of Task Force Bayanihan, she was shocked at news that H-1B visas of Filipino teachers would not be renewed and said they were meeting lawyers, community leaders and embassy officials discuss how to delay or stop the implementation of the ban on visa extensions.

About 1,000 foreign teachers were caught in a dispute between the Prince George’s County Public Schools and the US Labor Department over who should pay H-1B visa fees incurred in their recruitment.

The Labor Department insisted that the Prince George’s County should have paid the fees instead of the foreign teachers.

Based on its ruling, the county should pay the foreign teachers, about 800 of them Filipinos, $4.2 million in back pay and fined it $1.7 million for willful violation of a statute.

(Source: http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/headlines/9109-lay-off-scare)

  • Anonymous

    (Filipino Teachers in Prince George School County experience…) different forms of exploitation, manipulation and abuse…” I agree, but NOT by Americans, but by fellow Filipinos. Who in the world owns “Healthquest Enterprises” and “Arrowhead Manpower?” Filipinos! I’m sure they (the owners of those agencies) knew it was illegal to ask Filipino teachers to pay—they had lawyers processing the papers! I’m sure their lawyers would have told them.

    While I admire the ACT for their statement, I daresay it’s futile and useless. Statements like these have no bearing in the United States of America especially with the economic downturn. Instead, I urge the “ACT” to concentrate on their sphere of influence and pass laws in the Philippines so that Filipino teachers won’t have to be lured to go out of the Philippines for a better life.

    Lastly, it is callous and hypocritical for this Partido to accuse Americans of exploitation, manipulation and abuse. Why? Is it not a fact that Public school teachers in the Philippines are “exploited” by very low salary, “manipulated” and threatened during elections and “abused” when salaries they should be receiving aren’t received?

    As they say, “remove the plank from your eye BEFORE telling your brother to remove the speck from his.”