The Pilipino Association of Workers and Immigrants (PAWIS) condemns in the strongest possible terms the ongoing anti-Asian violence and crimes sweeping across the United States.

Most of our members are essential workers who continue going to work despite and inspite, of COVID 19. They risk their lives everyday so that they can continue to send money back home to their families in the Philippines. However, the anti-Asian sentiment that has long plagued this nation and has escalated to violence and attacks against Asians in these past weeks sowed added fears and worries to our community that has been through so much already in the past year. Filipinos and our Asian brothers and sisters are subjected to horrific physical attacks, racial slurs and other forms of harassment.

Violence is not new to Filipino immigrants. Structural violence caused many Filipinos to migrate and/or work abroad. Currently, our home country is under the grip of a fascist dictator drunk on killing suspected drug peddlers and human rights defenders. It is disheartening that in our adopted country we continue to experience violence — violence , bias and prejudice rooted in systematic racism that continues to operate in this nation and in all its institutions.

We urge our community to stand strong and in solidarity with our Asian sisters and brothers. We denounce the type of scapegoating that we Asians and Asian Americans have been subjected to in the wake of the pandemic. We deserve to live, breathe and work in this country. We must continue to advocate and fight for our rights and welfare because every person in this world deserves to live their lives with safety, dignity and respect.

Op-Ed: We Must Crack Down on Companies Exploiting the Pandemic to Cheat Workers


By Lorena Gonzalez and Ruth Silver Taube

Lurking in the shadows in any crisis are the unscrupulous characters looking to take advantage of those struggling the most. We’ve been warned of the scammers pretending to be contact tracers to commit identity theft. We saw giant corporations ripping off taxpayer-funded relief intended to prevent small businesses from going bankrupt.

Likewise, unscrupulous companies that cheated their workers out of wages before the pandemic are exploiting the weakness in our worker protections by shutting down and reopening under a new name in order to avoid paying the wages they owe.

Since March, it’s been low-wage workers, workers of color, and immigrant workers who’ve borne the brunt of layoffs; they’re also the workers most likely to be victimized by wage theft as companies shut down without paying them back wages they’re owed.

These companies hope that their theft will go unnoticed among the thousands of legitimate, Covid-related business closures and new business filings as California recovers. Ensuring exploited workers are not left further behind as California recovers is why it’s so important that Gov. Gavin Newsom sign AB 3075.

Workers like Tess are counting on us.

She worked long hours in a care home for the elderly and people with disabilities. When Tess and her co-workers insisted they be paid overtime, the owner turned management of the home over to an administrator who sought to avoid overtime by putting a three hour gap in the middle of an eight-hour shift.

While responsibility for the home changed on paper, day-to-day management didn’t and neither did the needs to care for Tess’ patients. The same owner called the shots and forced Tess and her colleagues to work through their three-hour “breaks.”

Tess joined the Pillipino Association of Workers and Immigrants and is fighting to recover the wages she’s earned.

In industries with many low-road employers like care homes, employers commit
wage theft with impunity precisely because they know how rarely workers like Tess
are successful in collecting back wages- and that was before Covid-19.

Just 17 percent of workers who’ve gone through the difficult process to secure a court
judgment ordering their employers to pay back wages ever see even a dime of what they’re owed—precisely because companies can simply close up shop and open under a new name. California workers lose an estimated $2 billion from their paychecks to theft from their own employers each year, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

AB 3075 begins to remedy this by requiring anyone who wishes to incorporate
to sign a statement indicating that they don’t have any outstanding wage judgments.

The vast majority of California companies are doing right by their workers during this pandemic. Many small business owners are even dipping into their own savings or retirement funds to make payroll, to buy safety equipment to keep workers safe, or to keep the doors open so workers can put in the hours they need to feed their families.

But businesses who closed up shop in the pandemic and sent workers home without their last paychecks should ensure those workers are made whole when they reopen. AB 3075 would make California’s recovery is fair to the companies that did the right thing—and the workers who’ve been paying the most difficult price in recent months.

Lorena Gonzalez represents the 80th Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes parts of San Diego and the South Bay. Ruth Silver Taube is the workers’ rights supervising attorney at the Alexander Community Law Center, an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, and coordinator of the Santa Clara County Wage Theft Coalition. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Send op-ed pitches to

PAWIS Workers Push For AB 3075 to Hold Employers Accountable for Paying Wage Theft Judgments


-Ruth Silver Taube and Ethan Chua

Wage theft occurs when employers don’t pay workers commensurately for the hours they’ve worked, don’t pay minimum wage, or deny workers overtime pay. In California, employers use wage theft tactics to steal an estimated $2 billion from workers each year, yet only 17% of workers who’ve received court judgments in their favor secure any repayment from employers who have underpaid them.[1] A primary reason for this low figure is that businesses can avoid wage theft judgments by closing down and reopening under a new name, leaving business owners with the capital they’ve stolen while workers themselves are left in the dust. The spate of lay-offs occurring due to COVID-19 has only exacerbated the problem, with many laid off workers still owed back pay by their employers. In addition, workers who are most vulnerable to exploitation such as low-wage workers, workers of color, and immigrant and undocumented workers are those who suffer most from unpaid wage theft claims.

PAWIS, as a member of the Santa Clara County Wage Theft Coalition, has been fighting hard for the passage of AB 3075, a bill which would close the loophole of employers shirking wage theft judgments by reopening their businesses under new names or transferring them to family members, friends, or managers. AB 3075 would extend liability for unpaid wage theft judgments to an individual or business entity that 1) uses substantially the same facilities or substantially the same workforce to offer substantially the same services as the predecessor employer; 2) has the same owners or managers; 3) employs as a managing agent any person who directly controlled the wages, hours, or working conditions of the workforce of the predecessor employer; or 4) is a family member of an owner, partner, manager, or director of the predecessor employer.

PAWIS has played a significant role in advocating for AB 3075. PAWIS member Tess Brillante participated in over 30 lobby visits and eloquently described how her former employer, who committed wage theft, transferred ownership of his company to a care home administrator in order to evade liability. Her former employer required workers to take a three hour “break” while they continued caring for patients without compensation. During these lobby visits, Tess’s testimony clearly moved legislators, one of whom even interrupted her to express his displeasure with her employer. Tess also spoke passionately about the urgency of the bill on behalf of all care home workers, who are risking their lives during COVID to receive the pay they are owed. During the Assembly Banking Committee and Senate Labor and Employment Committee hearings, PAWIS members Tess Brillante, Lilybeth Torogi, and Felwina Mondina expressed their support for the bill.  By the time the bill was heard in the Banking Committee, there was no opposition, and the bill passed with 4 members in favor and 1 member abstaining. Several senators commented that it was a “great bill.” The bill is headed for the Senate floor, then back to the Assembly for a vote on the amended bill, and finally to the Governor for signature. When the Governor signs it into law, it will be a powerful victory for all workers who are victims of wage theft.


Our Writers

Ruth Silver Taube

Supervising Attorney of the Workers' Rights Clinic at the Katharine & George Alexander Community Law Center at Santa Clara University School of Law and the Legal Advice Line of the OLSE Fair Workplace Collaborative; Special Counsel to Legal Aid at Work; and an Adjunct Professor at Santa Clara University School of Law. She collaborates with the PAWIS to conduct legal clinics and training. She is Legal Services Chair of the South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking, a member of the South Bay Coalition’s Executive Board, a delegate to the Santa Clara County’s Human Trafficking Commission, Coordinator of the Santa Clara County Wage Theft Coalition, and a founding member of the Bay Area Equal Pay Collaborative.

Ethan Chua (He/They)

Undergraduate at Stanford studying anthropology and creative writing, and a member of the Malaya Movement.




Delivered by a PAWIS member at the 2020 PSONA
Philippine Consulate, San Francisco USA
July 27, 2020


Magandang Hapon po sa inyong lahat! Ako ay isang myembro ng Pilipino Association of Workers and Immigrants o PAWIS. Ako ay isang proud na caregiver dahil ang pagiging-caregiver ang bumuhay sa aking anak at pamilya sa Pilipinas. Tiniis ng mga migranteng manggagawa na tulad ko ang mawalay sa aming mga mahal sa buhay kahit sa mahabang panahon dahil sa kakulangan ng oportunidad sa ating bansa.

Dugo at pawis ang puhunan namin sa pagtatrabaho dito sa America. Ngunit sa kabila nito, marami sa sa mga migrante ang nata-traffic at karamihan ay naging biktima ng wage theft na tulad ko. Akala ng iba kung nasa Amerika kana, masarap ang buhay. Hindi lang nila alam kung gaano kahirap ang dinaranas ng maraming Filipino dito. At ang mas masaklap, kahit inaabuso ang mga manggagawang migrante sa mga host countries tulad ng America, walang paki-alam ang gobyerno ng Pilipinas sa amin. Oo, inaamin ko, ibinoto ko si Duterte dahil sa kanyang pangako’ng pagbabago. Ngayon, may nababago na ba sa mga buhay ng mga mahihirap sa Pilipinas? May nabago na ba sa kalagayan ng mga migrante sa ibang bansa na nangangailangan ng tulong? Nagsisisi na ako dahil sa isang boto, boto na napunta sa mga pangakong napako. Tulad na lang ng sinabi ni Duterte noong 2017, “he will never lift a finger” para tulongan ang mga undocumented workers America na ginigipit ni Trump. Nassan ang pusong makatao at maka-Pilipino ni Duterte? Undocumented man ang mga manggagawang Pilipino pero hindi sila inutil. Nakakatulong sila ng malaki sa bayan dahil dagdag ang pinapadala nilang pinaghirapang dolyar sa ekonomiya ng Pilipinas.

Maraming dumadaing, marami pang migrante ang nangangailangan ng tulong. Tuloy na bang nagbingibingihan ang administrasyong Duterte sa kanila? Wala namang pakialam si Duterte sa mga migrante. Kahit pa sumipsip sa gobyerno sa social media ang iba pang mga migrante na hanggang ngayon ay Dutertards pa rin. Nasaan ang tulong? Nasaan ang ayuda? Daan-daang mga OFWs ang napauwi dahil sa pandemic at na-stranded sa mga airports. Daan-daang seafarers din ang na-stranded sa mga barko. Marami na ring mga OFWs ang nag-suicide dahil sa kawalan ng pag-asa sa panahon ng pandemya. Dito sa US, ang mga J1 workers na ginawang mga cheap labor o utusan lang sa mga kusina ng mga hotels ay wala ring natanggap na tulong mula sa gobyerno ng Pilipinas ng sila ay tinanggal at ina-bandona ng kanilang mga amo sa nagsarang mga hotels. Ngayon sa panahon ng COVID, ang mga caregivers ay mga frontliners. Kami rin ay nababalot ng takot at nababahala dahil mataas ang posibilidad na maari kaming ma-infect dahil na rin sa ganitong klaseng trabaho. Nandyan pa ang kawalan ng PPEs at hindi naman nagbibigay ng health insurance ang mga may-ari ng carehomes. Mararami rin sa mga caregivers na matatanda at may underlying conditions. Ngunit mas lalong nagpapabigat sa kalooban namin ang nangyayari sa aming mga pamilya at komunidad sa Pilipinas na hanggang ngayon ay walang mass testing. Nasa ilalim pa rin ng enhanced quarantine at hindi sila makalabas ng basta basta. At ngayon nandito ang Anti-Terror Law na pansindak ni Duterte sa mga mamamayan upang takutin at hindi na magreklamo sa kanyang inutil na pamamalakad sa gobyerno.

Nasaan ang pangako ng pagbabago? Tayo lang pala ay ginagago! Si Duterte ay traydor ng sambayanang Pilipino. Traydor sya ng mga migrante. Nabalewala lang ang aking boto! At ngayon, gusto nya tayong patahimikin sa pamagitan ng Anti-Terror Law. Ito lang ang masasabi namin bilang mga mangagawa dito sa US — gagawin namin ang aming papel para suportahan ang pakikibaka ng mga maggagawa sa Pilipinas at nang buong sambayang Pilipino laban sa diktadurya ni Duterte! Patuloy kaming mag-iinggay laban sa Anti-Terror Law at patuloy naming abutin ang iba pang mga migranteng Pilipino at ipamulat sa totoong kalagayan ng ating bansa.


PAWIS Statement on the BLACK LIVES MATTER Movement


PAWIS stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protestors and supports the Black Lives Matter movement.

The death of George Floyd and the thousands of black people due to police brutality is rooted in racism, the belief that one race is superior over the others. As immigrants in this country, we condemn racism and oppressive policies.

We urge our kababayans who are scared of protests and who have been annoyed with the looters and protestors during the early days of the protests to really understand the context of the Black Lives Matter movement that is sweeping across the US today. Let us not forget that the rights and privileges we now enjoy in this country were fought for by our black brothers and sisters which resulted in the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968. If black people did not fight then, immigrants would not have the right to become citizens or be considered citizens, will not be allowed to vote, to own properties and to use the bathrooms used by white people. And most importantly, we will not have the right to marry white people.

The pandemic shatters the American dream bubble and exposes the deep class inequality in America. Majority of the people who died from COVID19 are from black and brown communities. The situation is exacerbated by a racist President who does not believe in science and is proven time and again to be anti-immigrant.



The fight of our Black brothers and sisters for a dignified life, living wage, free health care, access to resources, among others, is also our fight. Their freedom is also our freedom. Let us stand with them in their struggle for the realization of a society devoid of any form discrimination and exploitation.