BAYAN USA Pacific Northwest is an alliance of four progressive Filipino organizations representing youth and students, women, human rights advocates and artists in Seattle, WA and Portland, OR. We serve as the regional campaign coordination center for BAYAN USA, the largest overseas chapter of BAYAN Philippines. We see workers and immigrant rights in the United States as intrinsically linked to the struggle for national liberation and genuine land reform in the Philippines.
2013 was a victorious year for workers, making headlines across the globe as they fought for their rights, dignity and livelihood. Locally, conversations around minimum wage heated up as fast food workers and Kshama Sawant called for a $15 per hour living wage.
Starting in 2012, we as BAYAN PNW decided to focus our internal and external political work on local worker campaigns that impacted Filipinos–primarily Sea-Tac Airport workers, Wal-mart workers, and Seattle hospitality workers. Determined to make an impact on the lives of working-class Filipinos, BAYAN educated and mobilized our membership, and formed the Regional Campaigns Committee (RCC) to lead our region in participating in over 25 actions and events last year alone.
In November, a landmark proposition (Prop 1) passed in Sea-Tac, raising minimum wage to $15 per hour for workers at Sea-Tac airport and surrounding businesses. Claudia Alexandra Paras of Pin@y Sa Seattle was the primary organizer of faith and community groups, and provided Bayan PNW with key insights on how to show our support. In 2013, we were consistently asked by labor unions to participate and give statements during various mobilizations. By mobilizing our membership for actions leading up to ballot initiative, we were an integral part of winning a concrete victory for the workers of Sea-Tac.
What’s Next in 2014?
This year is already looking very promising. With many exciting local, national and international campaigns on the horizon, Eskwela ng Bayan 2.0, focusing on skill-building and campaigns, will deepen the understanding of our leaders on how effective campaign work will strengthen our organizations and expand our membership base. Together, we will analyze our conditions, and determine how the best way to move forward with 2014 campaigns.
We will continue to support campaigns that focus on workers rights:
1. $15/hr minimum wage
2. Sea-Tac Prop 1
3. OUR Wal-mart
4. Migrant Farmer Worker Solidarity
Resource extraction and climate justice:
1. Mining and Militarization in the Philippines
2. Haiyan Relief and Rehabilitation
3. Coal trains and local environmental issues
1. IVOW/ One Billion Rising
2. Lakas: Men’s Dialogue Group
3. Human Trafficking
We look forward to growing our membership this year, looking to Anakbayan as a model for the region. Alay ng Kultura and Pin@y Sa Seattle will be making some changes (to membership structure and name, respectively) as they adjust to the needs of our work.
Philippine exposure trips will be ongoing, as members of Anakbayan will soon be preparing for the next round of exposurists. A committee will form to assist in preparation. And of course, stay tuned for The Epic Expo reportback… coming soon in February 2014.