This week we welcomed leaders of the labor and people’s moments in the Philippines to Milwaukee. The Young Workers Committee hosted Mong Palatino from Bayan, an alliance of progressive organizations founded during the Marcos dictatorship on May 1st, 1985, and Ed Cubelo from the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) or “May First Movement” to Milwaukee for a very successful International Workers’ Day event at the Milwaukee Area Labor Council.
Tracey and I took Ed and Mong to visit the memorial for Milwaukee’s Bay View Massacre of the 1886 general strike for the eight hour day, which along with the Haymarket events in Chicago were the inspiration for the International Workers’ Day holiday celebrated by working people and labor activists around the world on this day.
Ed and Mong also spoke to a room full of labor, anti-war, environmental, and student activists about the political situation in the Philippines, where President Rodrigo Duterte is using widespread political repression to silence opposition to his Trump-like policies from the poor and working class people’s movements. Since Duterte took office, 42 labor leaders in the Philippines have been killed by extra-judicial means. There have been over 200 labor strikes to fight neo-liberal policies like the expansion of temp work to 70% of the workforce, the use of “company unions,” and general attacks on working conditions and labor rights.
Unionists, environmental activists, women’s rights activists, human rights activists, and Catholic priests have been the victims of illegal arrest and detention, arsons, torture, killings, and political repression from Duterte’s military and police forces.
Despite all this, the people’s movements in the Philippines are growing, and KMU is organizing the “difficult to organize” industries like temp-workers and call centers with incredible speed and success. Because of their effectiveness, Duterte has slandered the KMU as “terrorists,” in order to justify his attacks on labor leaders and activists.
The atrocities committed by Duterte’s military and police have been enabled by the generous financial support of U.S. taxpayers, and of course, the political backing of President Trump. Ed and Mong spoke to the Milwaukee Area Labor Council executive board about how we could stand in solidarity by calling on our legislators to cut U.S. support for the Duterte regime.
I am proud to announce that a resolution I brought to the labor council executive board was passed unanimously on Monday, and passed unanimously by the entire delegate body on May Day.
The resolution condemns the human and labor rights violations committed by the Duterte Regime, and expresses our solidarity with the movements in the Philippines. The resolution calls on our U.S. representatives to be advocates for ending U.S. military aid to the Duterte regime, and to support the House and Senate resolutions that could enact this change. The resolution will also be used by activists to support the case against Duterte which is currently before the International Criminal Court.
-Written by Jacob Flom, Co-Chair of the Young Workers Committee, Member of MALC Executive Board, Vice President of AFSCME Local 526