Anakbayan East Bay mourns the death of Danilo Orcullo, a Labor Leader


Working Class Hero

Working Class Hero

For Immediate Release


November 4, 2009

Contact: Katie Joaquin, Secretary-General

Progressive Fil-Am youth group mourns the death of Danilo Orcullo, A leader who inspired Youth to join the struggle of Overseas Filipino Workers!

Anakbayan East Bay mourns the loss of Danilo Orcullo, a labor leader well-known amongst Oakland Airport workers as a loving friend, comedian and tireless fighter for workers rights.

Many of us witnessed Danilo’s fighting spirit and endless humor firsthand when we joined Filipino immigrant workers in the “Justice for Screeners” campaign – a struggle that inspired youth across the U.S. to join Filipino workers in the fight to preserve their jobs and expose immigrant scapegoating after the passing of the Aviation Transportation Security Act (ATSA) following the 9/11 tragedies. ATSA made U.S. citizenship a requirement for Airport Security Screening jobs and displaced thousands of Filipino screeners in the name of a “War on Terror.” Danilo’s courageous leadership was critical in organizing Oakland Airport screeners to overcome their fears and unite to defend their rights. This campaign led to the 2002 founding of the workers’ organization the Peoples Association of Workers and Immigrants, or PAWIS, where Danilo served as Chair for the Oakland chapter and continued to organize his co-workers to fight workers rights abuses. Also an active union leader, Danilo defended airport food concession workers’ rights to a union contract with UNITE HERE 2850 and led airport passenger service workers to win union recognition with SEIU 1877.

Danilo’s death feels heavy as a mountain and hits painfully close to home. His legacy is an inspiration for all Fil-Am youth to join the struggle of Overseas Filipino Workers.

Danilo collapsed from cardiac arrest while doing his job as a utility worker for food concessions at Oakland Airport, where he worked for 12 years. He worked to exhaustion in multiple jobs for meager wages. As sons and daughters of Immigrant families, Danilo’s story is not different from those of our parents, our grandparents, and our friends who work themselves ragged and way past retirement age, often lacking the economic means and benefits that would allow them to rest, even after decades of tireless work. Especially in times of economic crisis, workers feel pressure to push through their fatigue if they expect to hang onto their jobs – a widespread reality illustrated by the fact that Danilo is the 3rd PAWIS member to literally collapse on the job.

Danilo was amongst the 9.2 million overseas Filipino workers forced to leave our homeland because of the Philippine government’s failure to develop national industries and create jobs at home. Instead, Filipinos must struggle to make a living in foreign countries to meet our needs and support family in the Philippines. Filipino workers like Danilo, like our families and co-workers, are responsible for propping up no less than half of the Philippine economy with the money we send back home, yet the Philippine government does nothing to improve our trying situation overseas. The economic hardship of workers in our community lead to increased difficulty for Fil-Am youth to access quality education, healthcare and other basic needs.

Danilo’s life is a reminder that it is up to the youth and all sectors of our community, guided by the leadership of the workers, to address the problems we face. We extend our deepest sympathies to the family of Danilo and express our grief for his loss. Danilo was committed to improving the conditions for Immigrant Workers in the U.S. With his recent death, we are inspired more than ever to keep his fire alive!

To learn more about Danilo —

His message was clear: Workers of the World, Unite!

Mabuhay Danilo!

Mabuhay the struggle for the rights and welfare of Overseas Filipino Workers!

Youth and Workers of the World Unite!

AnakBayan-East Bay is a youth/student organization in the East Bay that seeks to build a progressive organization that engages, organizes and mobilizes Filipino youth and students around the collective interest of poor and working-class Filipino communities in the East Bay While linking their particular struggles to the conditions and popular movements for Philippines National Democracy.