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Distressed Filipino Teachers in U.S. Get More Support

Philippine Daily Inquirer, Posted: Nov 03, 2009

MANILAThe Filipino teachers in Louisiana who have accused their recruiter of labor contract violations continue to gain support in the United States after a widely circulated newspaper detailed their suffering. USA Today published in its Oct. 28 issue an article on the teachers, focusing on three Ingrid Cruz, Ian Cainglet and Luzellene Perez who borrowed up to $1,000 to be able to go to Louisiana but ended up deeper in debt.

The teachers experience echoed that of the 27 so-called Sentosa nurses Filipinos in New York City who sued their employer and recruiter for labor malpractice and illegal recruitment. Cruz, Cainglet and Perez were among the estimated 300 Filipino public school teachers deployed over the past two years by the Los Angeles-based Universal Placement International Inc. through its Philippine sister firm, PARS International Placement Agency, which maintains an office in Quezon City, the Philippines.

Cruz and other teachers, with the support of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the second largest education sector union in the United States, have sued UPI for labor malpractice before Louisiana's Workforce Commission. AFT President Randi Weingarten said the Filipinos were being treated like chattel. On Oct. 20, AFT filed another complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor on behalf of the teachers, who the union said were kept with "virtual servitude" by their recruiter.

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