• May 15 rally for Adriane, all restaurant workers • PH calls on countries to ban guns

Adriane Padilla. Photo: Ugnayan

Consider May 15 V-Day not just for Adriane Padilla but for all restaurant workers in the New York-New Jersey area.

“Justice for Adriane Campaign Celebration and Restaurant Workers Appreciation Day” will celebrate the triumph of Adriane Padilla, 19, a former restaurant worker who has been seeking compensation from her employers for unpaid wages. Adriane sued the Barrio Fiesta Filipino Restaurant & Bar in Woodside, Queens, citing abuse and workplace violations. She won a final judgment from the Eastern District of New York in September 2010 and was awarded $26,000, with the stipulation that her employer also pay her legal fees.

“This huge victory that Ugnayan celebrates with Ms. Padilla and the community reveals the just, collective struggle of youth, Filipinos, women and workers,” said the Ugnayan, a community-based organization for based in New York and New Jersey.

Santiago Manlapaz and Lilia Reyes, owners of Barrio Fiesta, were named in the lawsuit. As a result of the media coverage, extensive community organizing and outreach, and to avoid a costly court case, the employers decided to negotiate with Padilla and her legal team. The first settlement meeting happened on January 16, 2007.

Adriane is not alone, according to data provided by Ugnayan. In 2010, workers in low-wage jobs lost more than $18.4 million per week as a result of employment and labor law violations. About 21 percent of workers were paid less than minimum wage and 77 percent of those who worked more than 40 hours a week did not receive overtime pay.

“Amongst young workers in our Filipino community, this has a negative effect, impacting their ability to thrive, pay for school, and support their families,” said Ugnayan in a statement. “Like Ms. Padilla, women workers are additionally vulnerable to sexual harassment. Undocumented workers, often unaware that they have the right to get paid legal wages regardless of their immigration status, often suffer the worst abuses. Ms. Padilla is part of a community of youth who are forced to migrate abroad; and upon arrival in the US, are pushed into low-wage work where abuses, exploitation and discrimination are prevalent.”

Small Filipino business and restaurant owners are not immune from the systemic problems plaguing the Filipino community as a whole, such as racism and racial profiling by the police. In particular, they find it extremely hard to do and build their business because of fierce capital competition. They tend to exploit, abuse and harass their workers, especially women, like Padilla, said Riya Ortiz, spokesman of Ugnayan.

“Padilla is one of the thousands of educated, skilled youth from the Philippines who are forced to migrate because of lack of opportunities in the country. As many as 3,400 Filipinos leave everyday to work abroad, 70 percent are women, and 90 percent become low-wage workers,” said Ortiz.

Adriane is demanding a written apology from her former bosses at Barrio Fiesta for the workplace violations she experienced while working in the eatery for three years.

“This is not just about the money but a matter of principle,” she said. “I deserve to get back every single penny that I worked hard for. With the help of the lawyers and organization, I will keep on fighting not only or myself but for the other workers as well.”

On May 15, Ugnayan and supporters will gather 12 p.m., at the Woodside Plaza, on Roosevelt Avenue and 59th Street. There will be a Know Your Rights Workshop at 3:30 p.m. at Ugnayan’s ally organization, DRUM, at 72-18 Roosevelt Avenue, 2nd Floor, Jackson Heights.
A Philippine official spoke at the United Nations on May 11, citing the need for countries to prevent the illicit trade of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALWs).

Rachel Jane Osit of the Philippine National Police’s Firearms and Explosives Office said Manila has made gains in preventing the spread of small arms, through verification and tracing. This led to the PNP intercepting a cache of SALWs coming from a neighboring country. She was part of the Philippine delegation attending the meeting on the UN Program of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons.

According to Osit, the Philippines was able to assist in the tracing of 115 of the 181 weapons of various calibers intercepted recently. This led to the filing of criminal and administrative cases against the perpetrators.

She stressed the need for greater international cooperation to sustain the strides made by nations. Collaboration in upgrading technology and sharing of information was key in verification and tracing, she added. Osit revealed there are ongoing talks with the United States and Australia in this regard, and that “triboundary cooperation among the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia in the Sulu and Celebes seas in Mindanao” remains in effect.


  1. Debbie wrote:

    Are restaurant workers required to wear gloves? […] • May 15 rally for Adriane, all restaurant workers • PH calls on … […]

  2. diether wrote:

    Great topic. I need to spend some time learning much more about the restaurant business. Thanks for fantastic info.

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