The AFT exposes abusive practices of firm that recruits teachers from overseas
INGRID CRUZ came to the United States to teach. It was not her intention to end up on the front page of USA Today. Nor did she expect to be part of a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Labor.
But that's exactiy what happened.
In October, the AFT and its Louisiana state affiliate filed a complaint with the Labor Department alleging that Filipino teachers recruited by Universal Placement International (UPI) were illegally forced to pay thousands of dollars in fees to the recruitment company. The complaint charges that the firm forced the teachers to sign an illegal contract, under duress, requiring payment of fees that federal law dictates should be paid by the employer.
Many of the teachers say they were also required to pay for housing provided by UPI. Living four to a two-bedroom apartment, they were not allowed to choose their own roommates or seek alternative living arrangements.
"The sad picture painted in this complaint brings to mind some of the worst worker abuses in our students' history books: indentured servitude, debt bondage and labor contracts signed under duress. We need to put this part of our history, once and for all, behind us," AFT president Randi Weingarten says.
Cruz is one of the teachers on whose behalf me complaint was filed. And, despite the risks associated with speaking out, she has publicly sided witìi the AFT and its effort to draw attention to the abusive practices of UPI and its president, Lourdes "Lulu" Navarro.
"When I decided to speak out, I knew …