April 27, 2023
WASHINGTON DC: We at Global Labor Justice – International Labor Rights Forum express our outrage and deep sadness about the brutal murder of labor rights defender Alex Dolorosa, a call center organizer with the BPO Industry Employee Network (BIEN) in the Philippines and an advocate for LGBTQ+ workers. Alex was a visionary organizer, colleague, and friend of GLJ-ILRF in building an inclusive labor movement that could deliver dignity and justice for workers in the Philippines and across borders.
Alex was a union organizer and paralegal with BIEN in Bacolod City, Philippines, which has worked closely with Communications Workers of America (CWA) and UNI Global Union on organizing and campaigns to support internationally recognized labor rights for call center workers on international value chains of U.S. and European multinational companies. Alex was also a dedicated campaigner for the rights of LGBTQ+ people in the industry with the BPO Employees Gay, Lesbian, and Allies for Genuine Acceptance and Democracy (BEGLAD).
After working in call centers and volunteering with BIEN since 2016, Alex became a full-time employee, organizer, and paralegal officer of BIEN. Because of their labor movement efforts, he and other BIEN leaders and staff and others in the Philippine labor movement faced threats and surveillance on multiple occasions. In response to these threats, Alex took precautions – including moving houses in an attempt to stay safe. But, like his union siblings, he refused to allow the threats to keep him from his commitments to organize for rights and dignity for call center workers.
On Monday morning, Alex was found dead behind a chicken coop, beaten and stabbed 31 times.
We share our deepest condolences with Alex’s family, friends, and union. We will honor Alex’s memory by continuing to stand with BIEN and the trade union movement in the Philippines in the struggle for internationally recognized labor rights and human rights.
In the wake of this tragedy, we are disappointed that the Biden Administration will welcome Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. for a White House visit on May 1, celebrated as International Workers’ Day around the world.
We renew our call for the Biden administration to condition U.S.-Philippine engagement, including on trade benefits, on rapid progress in the protection of labor and human rights defenders, and expansion of workers’ meaningful access to internationally recognized fundamental labor rights, including by:
GLJ-ILRF has long supported labor rights defenders in the Philippines through successive waves of violent repression. We and our allies filed petitions seeking the withdrawal of trade benefits from the Philippines in 1995, in 2007, and, with unions from across the U.S. and the Philippines, again in 2021. We updated the 2021 petition with additional incidents from 2022, and in 2023, we wrote to Secretary Raimondo and Ambassador Tai, again urging action as part of the Biden Administration’s worker-centered trade and foreign policy agenda. Each time, we highlighted the persistence of state-sponsored anti-labor violence, arbitrary arrests, and red-tagging targeting worker-activists, along with the impunity that shelters perpetrators. We urged the International Labor Organization, the Philippine government, and U.S. authorities to protect internationally recognized labor rights, demand an end to red-tagging that generates violence and false arrests, and stop the repression of workers across the Philippines.
Our 2021 GSP petition, raising concerns about escalating violence against trade unionists in the Philippines and urging action by the Biden Administration, was elevated by the labor movements of the United States and the Philippines, with signatories such as:
Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU)
American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
American Postal Workers Union (APWU)
Communications Workers of America (CWA)
International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT)
Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement
Workers of America (UAW)
United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union (USW)
United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE)
Global Labor Justice-International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ-ILRF)
BPO Industry Employees’ Network (BIEN) (Philippines)
Council of Global Unions – Pilipinas (CGUP) (Philippines)
Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) (Philippines)
National Congress of Unions in the Sugar Industry in the Philippines (NACUSIP) (Philippines)
National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE) (Philippines)
Nagkaisa Labor Coalition (NLC) (Philippines)
Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) (Philippines)
Partido Manggagawa (PM) (Philippines)
Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) (Philippines)
Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK) (Philippines)
Unified Filipino Service Workers (UFSW) (Philippines)
For more statements of solidarity, please see below:
Global Labor Justice – International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ – ILRF) is a non-governmental organization that works transnationally to advance policies and laws that protect decent work; to strengthen freedom of association and workers’ ability to advocate for their rights; and to hold corporations accountable for labor rights violations in their supply chains.