Update on Cesar Chavez, farmworker organizing, and immigration reform

by Duane Campbell

Cesar Chavez at the Delano UFW rally.

Cesar Chavez at the Delano UFW rally. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Monday, as Californians celebrated Cesar Chavez Day the Real News Network has recorded an excellent two interviews with persons presently engaged in farmworker organizing. Both had worked with Chavez-
Marc Grossman and Rosalinda Guillen. They give current testimony to conditions in the fields, the role of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act, and two different views of the issues of immigration reform. Guillen describes the current largely indigenous labor force in the fields

I encourage all friends of labor to inform themselves and these important struggles.

http://antiracismdsa.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-current-status-of-farmworkers-and.html

 

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Its a bad deal !

Duane Campbellby Duane Campbell

The Congressional  negotiators have announced a deal for the budget- a bad deal.   The proposal includes not extending the unemployment benefits for the long term unemployed.  This is an outrage. Corporate agriculture gets bailed out, the banks get bailed out, but the unemployed get pushed aside.

The crisis was caused by finance capital.  The unemployed  should not have to pay for their crisis.

From The Coalition on Human Needs.     Important issues.
Some are saying that since the unemployment rate went down in November, we don’t need any more federal unemployment insurance for those out of work more than six months.
But wait:  long-term unemployment ROSE last month.  In November, 37.3% of the jobless had been out of work for six months or more, up from 36.9% in September.  The proportion of long-term unemployed is double the rate in 2007 (before the recession hit).  (Source:  Economic Policy Institute.)
Congress has never let long-term UI benefits expire unless the long-term jobless were no more than 1.3 percent of the labor force.  Now, they are double that – 2.6 percent. Continue reading

The Right To Stay Home: How U.S. Policy Drives Mexican Migration

BaconA review by Duane Campbell

The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration by David Bacon  is a well written, well informed book that explains political and economic currents shaping the US immigration experience.

The U.S. public is  engaged  in a sustained and divisive debate over immigration. Unfortunately, at the same  time ,  most U.S. do not recognize that U.S. economic policy,  particularly NAFTA created many of  the conditions that produce the very immigration of some 8 million people  that many on the Right and the Tea Party   so oppose.

The passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994 accelerated a neo-liberal form of economic growth in Mexico that drove poor farmers, particularly in the indigenous south to lose their farms and their livelihood.  In  response  young men, and increasingly the young women,  made the dangerous trek to the U.S. in search of work and an income to feed their families and keep their families from losing their  farms.    Continue reading

AFL-CIO Repositions Itself to Speak for All Workers

Fletcherby Bill Fletcher Jr. and Jeff Crosby

The AFL-CIO Convention in September took an important turn to reposition unions toward speaking for all working people in the United States. This was a correction to the narrow focus on its dues-paying members and traditional electoral work that has cursed the movement for most of its history.

To argue that this turn represents an abandonment of current members, as Steve Early does here , is factually false and politically wrong.

It helps to understand what the federation is and is not. It is a collection of unions “held together by a rope of sand,” as a former federation president put it. From the central labor councils to the national organization, affiliates that don’t like the turn of events just quit. Continue reading

Join the March on Washington – Saturday

“You can’t talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of the slums. . . . There must be a better distribution of wealth . . . and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.”

-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., speech to the SCLC staff, Frogmore, S.C., November 14, 1966

MARCH We March for the American Dream – August 24

Democratic socialists Bayard Rustin, Walter Reuther and A. Philip Randolph (ABOVE)  helped organize the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom 50 years ago.

They knew that ending legal segregation and winning political rights for African Americans were essential, but not sufficient, to ensure justice and freedom for all. Without access to good education, to health care and above all to decent jobs that paid living wages, the vote was not enough. Continue reading

Detroit Bankruptcy and the assault on labor

Remarks  for DSA Youth Conference August 9, 2013          Jack Clark.

This morning’s session focuses on the future of the labor movement.  That’s proper.  For all its flaws and its current weakness, labor remains the largest and most strategically important social movement fighting for ordinary Americans.  It’s difficult to imagine a revitalized liberal-left coalition without a strengthened labor movement.  It is impossible to imagine the development of an American democratic socialist current in the absence of a strong working class movement.

With that said, I am not beginning my presentation with a look at labor itself.  Rather I want to start by looking at attacks on labor and particular one influential attack that uses the crisis in Detroit as the reason to attack unions. .  I’ll take a provocative look at a large question posed by one of labor’s foes and  suggest a large theme that might inform our struggle, and I’ll end by suggesting some specifics on what we want to fight for as allies and participants in labor’s cause. Continue reading

This immigration bill is not good enough- PICO

Sacramento meeting This immigration reform is not good enough – Pico of California.

by Duane Campbell

At a mass meeting and send-off of pilgrims, hosted by Pico of California, with Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto ,  Pico youth leaders  Cecilia Munoz and Noemi Hernandez declared, “this Immigration reform is not good enough “ at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Sacramento on Aug.11, 2013.

The meeting in the packed church hall was a send off event for eleven pilgrims to begin a 285 mile walk through California’s Central Valley, the vegetable heart land of U.S. agriculture. – a pilgrimage toward citizenship.  The walk begins on Monday Aug. 11.  Religious and human rights activists are also  preparing to go to Modesto to  join with the pilgrims as they walk neighborhoods to bring pressure on Central Valley Congressmen who have not yet supported comprehensive immigration reform.  The 285 mile walk will conclude in 22 days  at the  Bakersfield office of  Cong. Kevin McCarthy, Majority Whip in the House.   McCarthy is not usually counted among the Tea Party Congress persons.  The Bakersfield area district has a 35% Latino population and 22.8 %  of the voters in the 2010 election were Latino. Continue reading

Immigration bill update

Immigration Update.

English: March for America brings 200,000 peop...

English: March for America brings 200,000 people to Washington, DC, to call for comprehensive immigration reform. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Wednesday, July 10th, House Republicans will convene a special meeting to determine their position and strategy on immigration reform. Since Republicans make up a majority of the House of Representatives, this meeting will have a profound influence on the future of immigration reform. If Republicans think they can get away without passing a bill, they won’t do one.
 
Two weeks ago, the Senate passed immigration reform with a robustly bipartisan 68-32 vote, and now the big question is what the House will do. So far, House Committees have approved five bills, none of which create a path to citizenship, and all of which contain provisions that would negatively impact our community members.

Rep.  Bob  Goodlatte,  (  R. Virginia – 6th) Chair of the House Judiciary Committee has a bill HR 1773 which would re-establish the prior bracero program (guest workers) with many  of its worst features, tying the work visa to a single farm corporation, company housing, controlled wages, a external “savings” bank, and more.  Goodlatte has also announced that legislation coming out of his House panel will not include a pathway to citizenship

WHAT IS THE AGRICULTURAL GUESTWORKER ACT?
The “AG” Act, H.R. 1773, would replace the current H-2A agricultural guestworker program with a new H-2C program. It fails to provide any opportunity for farmworkers to pursue a roadmap to citizenship. Instead, they would be required to return to their home country and could only come back to the U.S. as guestworkers, another second-class status. Families would be separated as spouses and children are provided no status. H.R. 1773 would eliminate nearly all protections currently in the H-2A program, allowing for mass exploitation, wage cuts and unsafe working conditions. Continue reading

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

Labor Wrestles With Its Future

Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson

By Harold Meyerson,

Since the emergence of capitalism, workers seeking higher pay and safer workplaces have banded together in guilds and unions to pressure their employers for a better deal. That has been the approach of the American labor movement for the past 200 years.

That approach, however, has begun to change. It’s not because unions think collective bargaining is a bad idea but because workers can’t form unions any more — not in the private sector, not at this time. There are some exceptions: Organizing continues at airlines, for instance, which are governed by different organizing rules than most industries. But employer opposition to organizing has become pervasive in the larger economy, and the penalties for employers that violate workers’ rights as they attempt to unionize are so meager that such violations have become routine. For this and a multitude of other reasons, the share of unionized workers in the private sector dropped from roughly one-third in the mid-20th century to a scant 6.6 percent last year. In consequence, the share of the nation’s economy constituted by wages has sunk to its lowest level since World War II, and U.S. median household income continues to decline.

Unions face an existential problem: If they can’t represent more than a sliver of American workers on the job, what is their mission? Are there other ways they can advance workers’ interests even if those workers aren’t their members? Continue reading

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