Profile: Felix de los Santos, treasurer of CUPE Local 474, grew up in the Philippines on his family’s farm. His family sold their livestock to afford his higher education. There was no automatic funding available for education. As a student, he was an active part of the student protest movement that united with unions to fight for common demands including higher education for the poor, equal distribution of land, and an adequate national healthcare system. Foreign powers like the United States strongly influenced the country’s politics. De los Santos exposed the privileges and influence for those tied to the Marcos regime and the repression experienced by the student groups of the 120 million student population.
In Canada, de los Santos worked many unsafe jobs late at night, and faced many other barriers to gainful employment. De los Santos persevered even though his credentials from the Philippines were not validated in Canada. He also faced discrimination in lumbering and roofing jobs. Determined to succeed in Canada and with the strength of his union convictions, de los Santos endured. His eventual employment with the School Board allowed him to strengthen his union contributions, and to mobilize and represent CUPE on national committees. His active union role in fighting harassment and discrimination helped to set up training programmes for the entire seven districts of CUPE. De los Santos has made many contributions to CUPE’s training materials; these have been requested nationally and internationally.
Keywords: Discrimination; Foreign-trained labour; Harassment; Philippines; Privatization; Union Activism
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