Unions, community groups divide on immigration reform

Divisions on immigration bill.

Duane Campbellby Duane Campbell

Until last week there was  substantive unity between immigrants rights groups, community groups,  religious groups, and  major parts of organized labor in the effort to craft a comprehensive immigration reform bill.  Now, with the amendments and passage of S477, the Senate bill, this unity is challenged.   The draft of S477 by the Gang of Eight was  always a compromise. There is, for example, a redesigned  guest worker program,  the growth of a special status for H1 B hi tech workers,  enhancement of border enforcement,  a extended period of time required for application for legal status, and more.

Conservative Republican forces in the Senate amended the bill to achieve a massive  30 Billion  $ expansion of border enforcement.  The National Network for Immigrants Rights, a network of grass roots community groups, sharply criticized this developments and Presente, a new on-line group that claims to speak with the Latino community has called the bill unacceptable, while the big Washington D.C. lobbying groups such as the National Council de La Raza continue to support the bill.

Labor too is dividing. The national AFL-CIO praised the passage of S477 in the Senate, Richard Trumka  said,

The United States Senate today moved our country a big step closer to building a common sense immigration system that will allow millions of aspiring Americans to become citizens.  Continue reading

Assault on labor in Michigan

RTW

By Duane Campbell

While labor won big in the 2012 elections, we did not win everywhere.  Labor did not win in Michigan.  Republican legislators in Michigan on Thursday passed so called Right-To-Work  legislation  for private sector work by six votes in the Senate and the House.  The governor has indicated he will sign the bill.  A following bill restricting public sector workers is following close behind in the lame duck session.

From: Kitchen table economics:  in  DSA’s Democratic Left.  Winter 2012.What is Right To Work?  What motivates and who funds  these state campaigns against organized labor?  Answer: In states that have adopted so called Right To Work, annual wages and benefits are about $1,500 lower than for comparable workers in non-RTW states—for both union and nonunion workers.  And the odds of getting health insurance or a pension through one’s job are also lower. (1)

Right to work (RTW)  is a misleading slogan.  It does not guarantee anyone a job, that is a right to work.   Rather, it makes it illegal for unions to require that each worker who benefits from a union contract pays his or her  fair share of the costs of administering that contract.

“Right to Work” is a propaganda title that unfortunately the corporate owned  has successfully branded and the media repeats day by day.  We should avoid repeating the phrase.  Instead we should call it what it is, an assault on unions. Continue reading

Union leaders praise Obama on immigration decision

by Laura Clawson

English: Eliseo Medina, Executive Vice Preside...

English: Eliseo Medina, Executive Vice President of the Service Employees International Union, testifying on immigration reform before the Subcommittee on Immigration of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, April 30, 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The AFL-CIO and the SEIU are applauding President Obama’s decision to give work permits to young, law-abiding undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, rather than deporting them.

“President Obama showed leadership and courage,” according to SEIU Secretary Treasurer Eliseo Medina, on a “common sense move [that] is fiscally responsible and widely supported.”

“President Obama is showing great courage in taking this action, and it presents a stark contrast with the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee who has vowed to stop the DREAM Act if elected. In Congress, polarizing partisan politics kept the DREAM Act from becoming law in 2010.

“Through President Obama’s courageous leadership, DREAM eligible students can get relief from the immediate threat of deportation. The president has now done all he can do, but the kind of relief he is able to grant is temporary. It is now up to Congress to pass the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform, which is the only way that the dreams of these productive Americans can be realized.”

[note: Eliseo Medina is an Honorary Chair of DSA]

“We are thrilled,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement.

The President’s actions bring much-needed security and encouragement to our nation’s youth who can finally live without fear of separation from their families and deportation to a country they barely remember. [...] The AFL-CIO commends the Administration for its courage and leadership in taking an important step towards a more just America. Continue reading

Migration – a product of “Free Market” Reforms

By Duane Campbell

Labor journalist and photo journalist  David Bacon is a frequent contributor to Talking Union.  In a new three part series, “Migration- a product of Free Market Reforms” he describes the displacement of some 500,000 people from Oaxaca, Mexico.  Most to the fields of California.

David Bacon

“It is the financial crashes and the economic disasters that drive people to work for dollars in the U.S., to replace life savings, or just to earn enough to keep their family at home together,” says Harvard historian John Womack. “The debt-induced crash in the 1980s, before NAFTA, drove people north…The financial crash and the Rubin-induced reform of NAFTA, New York’s financial expropriation of Mexican finances between 1995 and 2000, drove the economically wrecked, dispossessed and impoverished north again.”

The U.S. immigration debate has no vocabulary that describes what happens to migrants before they cross borders – the factors that force them into motion. In the U.S. political debate, Veracruz’s uprooted coffee pickers or unemployed workers from Mexico City are called immigrants, because that debate doesn’t recognize their existence before they leave Mexico. It would be more accurate to call them migrants, and the process migration, since that takes into account both people’s communities of origin and those where they travel to find work. Continue reading

California Teachers Union begins “State of Emergency” campaign

David Sanchez in Sacramento

by Duane Campbell

Almost 800 teachers and their supporters rallied in Sacramento on Monday  and marched to the state capitol to demand that the legislature pass a budget that adequately funds the schools. Scores of protests, rallies, teacher sit-ins and grade-ins, and town halls are part of a statewide “State of Emergency” campaign week of actions  launched Monday by the California Teachers Association (NEA) CTA and a coalition of all of organized labor and parent supporters calling on the Legislature to extend current taxes now to avoid the catastrophe of an all-cuts budget.

David Sanchez in Sacramento

“We are living in a state of emergency,” said David A. Sanchez, president of the 325,000-member California Teachers Association. “Educators, parents and community leaders are fighting back against state budget cuts that are decimating our schools, public safety and health care services. To protect essential public services, the Legislature must finish the job of resolving the state budget crisis by extending current tax rates legislatively. Time is running out for our students and our communities.”David Sanchez in Sacramento

Educators are fed up with endless cuts and will be holding daily sit-ins at the Capitol building in Sacramento. In the past three years, K-12 and higher education have been cut by more than $20 billion. An all-cuts state budget would add another $4 billion in education cuts, the state’s nonpartisan legislative analyst warns. CTA supported the governor’s call for a June special election to extend taxes, but Republican  lawmakers hijacked the process and blocked that vote. The time to protect the revenue we have is now.

Events this week will   show the impacts of budget cuts on students and our communities.  Rallies will be held in  5  California cities on Friday, culminating in a march on the capitol and a potential occupation of the California Capitol.

The campaign website is www.castateofemergency.com and features events planned statewide, along with blogs, videos and news coverage about cuts and the growing crisis in California.

What is similar to the occupations in Wisconsin and the demonstrations in Ohio and Indiana? Continue reading

More than 1500 join in Sacramento Capitol in second rally.

Union Solidarity

by Duane Campbell

Over 1500  union members and supporters rallied again  at the State Capitol in Sacramento  on Feb.26,  called by Move- on.com,  Jobs with Justice, and organized by local labor activists  to support the working people in Wisconsin in their struggle to defend their  union rights.  Speakers described the financial crisis that began  2007  as  an assault on organized  labor, working people, and our democracy.   A retired teacher from Wisconsin detailed many of the events occurring in Madison in an effort to end the occupations of buildings and  demonstrations by public employees and families there.  She noted that  Wisconsin teachers and public employees have agree to all of the demanded salary and benefit cuts, but insist that their union rights to negotiate be protected.  This defense of union rights is not acceptable to Governor Walker and the Koch Brothers who fund him.

CSU Employees (CSUEU) a SEIU local was one of the primary organizers of the event (not the faculty union).   Speakers from that union  and several signs noted that the assault in Wisconsin is class war- by the rich against working people. Continue reading

Thousands Take Stand in Sacramento for Workers’ Rights in Wisconsin


By Steve Smith, California Labor Federation

When Wisconsin’s new right-wing Governor decided to make it his personal mission to eliminate the rights of teachers, nurses, bus drivers and other public servants, he probably thought it would be a cakewalk. After all, Gov. Scott Walker has a Republican-controlled legislature that is on board with his radical plan to eliminate collective bargaining for public sector workers. What he didn’t count on was the extraordinary resolve of working people to stop his assault on our values. For more than a week, tens of thousands have protested at the Wisconsin Capitol. The fight back spread to Ohio, Indiana and other states where politicians are attempting to strip workers of their voice. And it didn’t stop there. All over the country, workers are standing in solidarity to beat back these attacks.

Last night, the spirit of solidarity was tangible in Sacramento, as more than 3,000 workers – teachers, Teamsters, nurses, ironworkers, janitors and many others – descended on the State Capitol to send a message loud and clear across California and the country: An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.

Continue reading

Join the Wisconsin Campaign for justice

Public employees and their allies are taking action to fight Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) proposals to cut pay and benefits and take away nearly all collective bargaining rights for state workers. Walker has alerted the National Guard in case state workers strike or rise in protest. Help fight this outrage.

* Join a Facebook campaign here:

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=200777516604842

* Sign a Twitter petition here.

* If you’re in Wisconsin, find out about rallies here.

 

Richard Trumka on the Obama tax deal

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka today issued the following statement on the tax cut deal reached between President Obama and congressional Republicans:

Two years ago, working Americans had high hopes that we would ultimately emerge from the deep, punishing financial debacle with a sharp focus on a fundamentally stronger, fairer and more balanced economy.  Today, that vision has dimmed.

The tax cut deal rewards Republican obstructionism by giving the wealthy the tax breaks they demanded.  It throws away precious resources needed for investments in jobs and our economy on upper income tax cuts that will do very little to propel economic growth — setting up excuses for the deficit hypocrites to argue for even more cuts to programs serving working families.  It lards the tax cuts for the top 2 percent with an indefensible cut in the estate tax — giving yet another bonus to the super-rich.  Taken together, this package locks in the growing income inequality that has plagued our country for at least another two years — and quite possibly much longer.

It is unconscionable that the price of support for struggling middle class families and workers who have been unable to find jobs for months and months and months is yet more giveaways for our country’s wealthiest families. Millions of jobless workers have lived in fear for months while Senate Republicans had the gall to use their hardships as political leverage for the benefit of the rich. Continue reading

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