Secaucus, NJ – Filipino activists and community advocates rallied at Alaris Health at the Fountains- South Campus early Tuesday morning to demand full back wages and job reinstatement for two Filipino workers. Bernadette De Leon and Yolando Simon, both dietary aides, were unjustly suspended on May 29, 2014, and eventually terminated on July 10, 2014. The rally was held coinciding with the arbitration hearing between 1199J, who are representing the workers, versus Alaris Health.
Protesters held a banner saying, “We support Bernadette and Yolando! Reinstatement now!” They also chanted, “When workers rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up! Fight Back!”
The two Filipino workers were terminated by Patricia Meyers, Administrator at Alaris Health at the Fountains – South Campus for allegedly stealing frozen goods. These were denied by De Leon and Simon. The two workers said that they were not afforded the opportunity to tell their side and were not provided due process. Both workers were reliable, long-term employees of Alaris Health, who consistently received certificates of recognition.
“We are here to show support for Bernadette and Yolando who are fighting against their unjust termination. We are here to show that the community is on the side of workers rights.” said Hanalei Ramos, an organizer with the Filipino Immigrants and Workers Organizing Project.
The protest culminated with the advocates delivering a letter to Pat Meyers, Administrator of the Alaris site. The delivered letter was also signed by a number of local community organizations, demanding that Meyers be held accountable for her conduct.
“As a Filipino youth organization, we stand with Bernadette and Yolando. We demand that Patricia Meyers be held accountable for the blatant discrimination and unprofessionalism that occurred under her watch,” said Nina Macapinlac of Anakbayan New Jersey. “Workers’ rights are always under threat by employers who seek to exploit their workers. It is therefore important that workers be always vigilant and ready to assert their rights,” Macapinlac concluded.
The rally was organized by Anakbayan New Jersey and the Filipino Immigrants and Workers Organizing Project. With more than 20,000 Filipinos in Hudson County alone, these organizations anticipate more Filipino workers to come out with experiences of discrimination, exploitation, and unsafe working environments. Community activists are hoping that De Leon and Simon’s case sets an example of community members uniting to defend workers’ rights.