Posted on February 12, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Charlie Fanning
Temporary worker programs in the United States are often presented as a “win-win” process, by which employers and foreign workers come together to both fill industry shortages and meet the needs of immigrant workers on a seasonal basis. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people are recruited from abroad to work on a vast array of temporary visas, in a wide range of industries, from low-wage jobs in agriculture and landscaping, to higher-wage jobs in technology, nursing and teaching. Yet, few discuss how these workers come to the United States and under what terms. Regardless of their visa, internationally recruited workers face disturbingly common patterns of abuse, including fraud, discrimination, economic coercion, blacklisting and, in some cases, forced labor, debt bondage and human trafficking.
The International Labor Recruitment Working Group (ILRWG), a diverse coalition that includes the AFL-CIO, AFT, the Centro de los Derechos del Migrante Inc. (CDM), Farmworker Justice, Global Workers Justice Alliance, National Guestworker Alliance, Southern Poverty Law Center and other international and national organizations, met on February 5 to launch a report highlighting abuses experienced by internationally recruited workers. Directly before the House Judiciary Committee’s first immigration hearing and fresh on the heels of President Obama’s proposal for comprehensive immigration reform, the group called for lawmakers to implement meaningful regulation of recruitment practices as part of a legislative package.
Filed under: Immigrant Workers, Organizing | Tagged: ILRWG, immigration, immigration reform, International Labor Recruitment Working Group, Latino, Philippines, The American Dream Up for Sale, Visa | 1 Comment »
Posted on January 30, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Amy B. Dean
Amy B. Dean
At this moment, various plans to reform America’s broken immigration system are working their way through Congressional debate. On Monday, a bipartisan group of eight lawmakers unveiled a plan that includes what they call a “tough but fair” path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Last Friday, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus met with President Obama to discuss the issue, and this caucus’ input will influential in shaping any final legislation.
In the current political climate, immigration reform is broadly popular, with both parties eager to win over the Hispanic electorate in 2014 and 2016. But that doesn’t mean that a bipartisan effort will pass a good law — especially if long-time opponents of immigration reform are only cynically vying for votes. We have every reason to doubt the sincerity of conservatives such as Senator Marco Rubio, who is leading the charge from the Republican side of the aisle with an eye on his own bid for president.
For the Democrats, the challenge will be to avoid simply jumping at the first deal offered by newly converted conservatives. Instead, for the first time in decades, promoters of reform have the opportunity to hold America to its promise of being a land of liberty and justice for all.
Filed under: Politics | Tagged: immigration, immigration reform | 1 Comment »
Posted on January 18, 2012 by dcampbell1
By David Bacon
Editor’s Note: This is the second installment of a three-part series on migrant rights by journalist and immigration activist David Bacon. This article is taken from the report “Displaced, Unequal and Criminalized – Fighting for the Rights of Migrants in the United States” that examines the origins of the current migratory labor phenomenon, the mechanisms that maintain it, and proposals for a more equitable system. The Americas Program is proud to publish this series in collaboration with the author. Excerpts.
Over the last 25 years, guest worker programs have increasingly become a vehicle for channeling the migration that has stemmed from free market reforms. Increasing numbers of guest workers are recruited each year for labor in the U.S. from Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean under the H1-B, H2-A and H2-B programs. Recruiters promise high wages and charge thousands of dollars for visas, fees and transportation. By the time they leave home, the debts of guest workers are crushing.
..In 2006 Santiago Rafael Cruz, an organizer for the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, was murdered when the union tried to set up an office in Mexico to end the corruption and abuse by guest worker contractors. (more…)
Filed under: Economy, Fair Trade, Global organizing, Immigrant Workers, Politics, Solidarity | Tagged: Bacon, California, David Bacon, Guest worker program, immigration, Mexico, Oakland, United States | Leave a Comment »
Posted on March 29, 2011 by paulgarver
While concern about tobacco use is often in the news, concern about tobacco farmworkers is not. Yet sub-minimum wages, corrupt labor contractors, decrepit housing , and serious health risks, including that of death by heat stroke, are common for tobacco farm workers in North Carolina and the South. This is a tragedy and moral disgrace hidden from the eyes of most Americans. At the top of this exploitative labor system sit some of the world’s largest and most powerful tobacco companies, such as Reynolds American.
The Farm Labor Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO (FLOC), which represents thousands of farmworkers in the Midwest and the Southeast, has sought to begin a dialogue with Reynolds American to end the human rights abuses in their supply chain. But the company has refused to even meet with them.
Daniel M. Delen became the new CEO and President of Reynolds on 1st March. To tell Mr. Delen to work with FLOC to end human rights abuses in his company’s supply chain sign this petition.
Filed under: Immigrant Workers, Low wage workers, Organizing, Solidarity | Tagged: Delen, Farm Labor Organizing Committee, FLOC, immigration, Reynolds American, tobacco | Leave a Comment »
Posted on December 3, 2010 by dcampbell1
Sacramento Dream Act Demonstration
Students and members of SEIU 1877 demonstrated on Dec. 2, 2010 at the Sacramento Capitol building.
The goal of this event was to bring to light the thousands of students caught in the horrible, perpetual limbo of being educated, bright and ready to work, but denied the chance to because of their illegal immigration status.
The DREAM Act would give more than 100,000 young immigrants, brought to the United States before the age of 16, a chance to become legal residents if they attend college or join the military.
Many of us have known or do know Californians that have had to live in hiding. The DREAM Act will prevent young people from being punished for the actions of their parents, giving them the opportunity to obtain legal status by pursuing higher education or by serving in the American armed forces for the country they grew up in and consider their own.
Filed under: Immigrant Workers, Solidarity, Youth | Tagged: California, DREAM Act, immigration | Leave a Comment »
Posted on September 6, 2010 by paulgarver
by Paul Garver
On the occasion of Labor Day, which is celebrated today both in the USA and in Canada, I have reports on two exemplary organizing efforts in Canada from which American union activists might learn.
The Canadian branch of the United Food & Commericial Workers Union (UFCW Canada) has committed itself to a sustained effort to improve conditions for migrant agricultural workers in Canada. Every year Canada’s Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) program imports tens of thousands of agricultural laborers from Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and South Asia. UFCW Canada national president Wayne Hanley describes the TFW as “the federal government’s Exploitation Express that delivers migrant workers to Canada as a vulnerable and disposable work force. The collusion between the farm lobby and the governments is not only appalling, but an assault on the fights and safety of precarious workers who are fired and shipped out if they voice any concerns.”
Filed under: Economy, Global organizing, Immigrant Workers, Low wage workers, Organizing, Solidarity, Uncategorized, Worker Centers, Workplace health and safety | Tagged: agriculture, Canada, immigration, migrant workers, UFCW Canada | Leave a Comment »
Posted on August 2, 2010 by dcampbell1
“THIS LAW IS VERY UNJUST!”
By Teresa Mina, as told to David Bacon. New America Media, 7/24/10
Teresa Mina was a San Francisco janitor, member of Service Employees Union Local 87, when she was fired because the company said she didn’t have legal immigration documents. Immigration and Customs Enforcement told her employer to fire 463 workers because they lack legal immigration status. She told her story to David Bacon the day before she returned to Mexico.
I come from Tierra Blanca, a very poor town in Veracruz. After my children’s father abandoned us, I decided to come to the U.S. There’s just no money to survive. We couldn’t continue to live that way.
We all felt horrible when I decided to leave. My three kids, my mom, and two sisters are still living at home in Veracruz. The only one supporting them now is me.
My kids’ suffering isn’t so much about money. I’ve been able to send enough to pay the bills. What they lack is love. They don’t have a father; they just have me. My mother cares for them, but it’s not the same. They always ask me to come back. They say maybe we’ll be poor, but we’ll be together.
I haven’t been able to go back to see them for six years, because I don’t have any papers to come back to the U.S. afterwards. To cross now is very hard and expensive. (more…)
Filed under: Immigrant Workers, Low wage workers | Tagged: immigration, Mexico | 1 Comment »
Posted on July 29, 2010 by paulgarver
by Randy Shaw
The July 26 settlement between UNITE HERE and SEIU ended a divisive conflict that badly hurt the labor movement. While the agreement paves the way for closer cooperation around immigrant rights and November’s elections, the once close relationship between SEIU and UNITE HERE is unlikely to be restored anytime soon, if ever. Ultimately, the deal reminds the entire labor movement that grassroots and worker power, not high-priced consultants, robocalls and mailers, is the key to success. The SEIU-UNITE HERE conflict also shows the peril of veteran labor leaders quietly deferring to destructive decisions by top union officials, a lesson that was supposed to have been learned from activists’ experience with Cesar Chavez and the UFW in the 1970’s.
Filed under: Immigrant Workers, Labor History, Union Reform | Tagged: Andy Stern, Cesar Chavez, Eliseo Medina, Fred Ross Jr, immigration, John Wilhelm, Mike Casey, NUHW, SEIU, Unite Here | 3 Comments »
Posted on June 21, 2010 by dcampbell1
by James Parks
The United States needs a new economic strategy to replace the failed model of the past 30 years–one that focuses on developing a workforce with world class skills and world class rights and trade policies that serve the interests of the American people, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told the City Club of Cleveland today.
But we cannot talk about any meaningful workforce strategy without confronting our own “contradictions, hypocrisy and history on immigration,” he said. In a dynamic global economy in the 21st century,
we simply cannot afford to have millions of hard-working people without legal protections, without meaningful access to higher education, shut off from the high-wage, high-productivity economy.
It is just too costly to waste all that talent and strength and drive. (more…)
Filed under: Economy, Fair Trade, Immigrant Workers, Politics, Solidarity, Uncategorized | Tagged: immigration, immigration reform, Richard Trumka | 3 Comments »
Posted on June 21, 2010 by dcampbell1
by Paul Ortiz, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed
María Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, encourages people to organize: “When we build a movement of the working poor, we will have the power to end poverty.” (Photo: L.A. Union AFL-CIO)
Why are there 40 million poor people in America? When you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I’m simply saying that more and more, we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life’s market place. But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring….
-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., message to Southern Christian Leadership Council (1967).
In the debate surrounding Arizona’s laws targeting immigrants and ethnic studies, we’ve heard very little mention of capitalism and its place in American politics. Senate Bill 1070 is an insurance policy for capitalism, a way to ensure that the cheap labor that serves the foundation of the new economy remains cheap forever. House Bill 2281 is part of a package deal. The erasure of ethnic studies courses that show how poor people have changed history – when they have organized – will allow the invention of a historical narrative as one sided as the old myths of the European Conquest. These bills are a gift from a steadily shrinking, white, ruling class to its own posterity and to any white workers and ethnic minorities willing to accept second-class citizenship in order to avoid something far worse. Unless we mobilize to defeat these measures, worse things are on the horizon. Our history proves it.
SB 1070 makes racial profiling the de facto law of the state, but police in Arizona or anywhere else for that matter do not need a law to continue feeding working-class people to the expanding prison industrial complex.(1) We need to listen carefully to Governor Brewer’s rationale for this bill. She consulted closely with major business owners before signing the new law. “The bottom line is that when I go about meeting with businesses that come into Arizona,” Brewer stated, “they want to know that we have a safe and secure environment into which to move their businesses here….They want to know that their employees are going to have a quality of life that they’ve had in the places where they’re moving from to move here.”(2) (more…)
Filed under: Immigrant Workers, Labor History, Low wage workers, Uncategorized | Tagged: Arizona, immigant workers, immigration | 2 Comments »