The Embassy of the Philippines and U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have renewed its partnership to promote worker’s rights at a signing ceremony in the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Building in Atlanta. Sung Kim Chu, assistant district director, Wage and Hour Division, Atlanta, Américo Pagán, assistant regional administrator cooperative and state programs, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Atlanta, and Emilio T. Fernandez, Consul General of the Philippines, District of Columbia represented their agencies at the signing.
The agreement renewed a collaborative partnership with the Philippines to provide information, guidance and access to education and training resources for Filipino nationals working in Georgia. The consular section of the Philippine Embassy in the District of Columbia and the department’s district and area offices will work together to develop ways of communicating information to both workers and employers to make them aware of the rights and responsibilities of all parties under the OSH Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, H-2A and H-2B programs.
According to assistant district director, Sung Kim Chu of the Wage and Hour Division, “the agreement allows for a collaborative effort to deliver education and training on the laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division. In addition, the agreement helps to ensure a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work by promoting a safe procedure to file wage related complaints by all workers, both documented and undocumented, without retaliation.”
Following the signing, the Wage and Hour Division, OSHA and the White House Initiative on Asian-Americans and Pacific-Islanders (WHIAAPI) Southeast Regional Network hosted a roundtable discussion on issues facing the Filipino and Filipino-American communities in Georgia and the Southeast. Consul General Emilio T. Fernandez, Chair Ron Stephens of the WHIAAPI Southeast Regional Network, and Public Relations Officer Willy Blanco of the Filipino-American Association of Greater Atlanta, engaged representatives from over ten federal agencies, the City of Atlanta, and community organizations in a discussion about ways to serve the community better. Agencies represented at the event included the Wage and Hour Division, OSHA, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Government Services Administration (GSA), Small Business Administration (SBA), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), U.S. Peace Corps, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, the City of Atlanta’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, and the Atlanta Police Department. “The WHIAAPI Southeast Regional Network is honored to be a part of this collaborative effort,” said Ron Stephens, Chair, WHIAAPI Southeast Regional Network. “We will continue to strengthen relationships with the AAPI communities across the Southeast to ensure that federal programs and services are readily available for all.”
Consul General Emilio T. Fernandez closed the event by saying, “I have been Consul General since 2014 traveling to many places under our jurisdiction, and this is the first time that local government officials – in this case, representing WHIAAPI and US DOL – have gone out of their way to reach out to the Filipino American community to conduct a dialogue on issues of concern to them, including topics relating to workers’ rights, immigration, assistance-to-nationals, Filipino veterans, small businesses, home ownership, and welcoming newcomers. This is truly a commendable undertaking, a testament to the commitment of public officials here in the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia, and hopefully the start of a fruitful and productive relationship for both sides.”