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Lawyer attacks union for defending immigrant teachers

In an effort to overturn a decision against a recruiting company charged with victimizing Filipino teachers hired to work in Louisiana schools, attorney Murphy J. Foster went on the offensive Monday against the unions representing the foreign teachers.

The American and Louisiana Federation of Teachers filed charges that resulted in the judgment against Universal Placement International and owner Lourdes “Lulu” Navarro. An administrative law judge awarded $1.8 million to the foreign teachers represented by the union.

The union, Foster said, “hates” the teachers it represents. He called the union lawsuit a plot “to halt the importation of Filipino teachers to this country.”

The Federation is representing more than 300 Filipino teachers who were cheated out of tens of thousands of dollars and forced into exploitative contracts by Navarro, who has been convicted of felonies in California and New Jersey.

Last spring, a Louisiana Workforce Commission judge ruled that UPI and Navarro were guilty of numerous violations of state labor law. The judge ordered the recruiting firm to refund fees that were collected in violation of law.

Other than union bashing, Foster argued that Filipino teachers signed contracts in The Philippines and California, but not in Louisiana, and that our state’s laws therefore should not apply. He also claimed that UPI is a “placement service” and not an “employment agency.”

Regardless of where the teachers signed contracts or what the company is called, AFT attorney Dan McNeil argued, the simple fact is that UPI and Navarro broke state law. He urged District Judge Janice Clark to uphold the Workforce Commission judgment.

Judge Clark took the issue under advisement, and will render a decision later