Reject the Republican Repressive Immigration Bills

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Republicans in Congress have rejected a way to fix DACA and protect Dreamers. Now they are forcing a vote on two cruel bills that hold dreamers hostage to the Trump Administration’s deportation machine that separates kids from their families, deports hard working immigrants from the country, eliminates the diversity visa program, restricts family unification and prevents people fleeing violence and death from seeking asylum.

This is not who we are as a country.

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When we rip babies from their parents arms, build prison camps for children, raid workplaces and round up anyone who is not white, and threaten the 800,000 DACAmented Dreamers who have only ever known America with deportation we have to step up. This is a moral crisis and people like you and me must stand up to this.

Congress must know that these bills allowing the most inhumane parts of Donald Trump’s immigration policies can not pass. Tell your Representative that they must vote NO on these cruel bills.

When President Trump needlessly ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program—a temporary fix to help individuals who came to this country as young immigrants—it became Congress’ responsibility to solve the problem. At every turn, Congress has failed miserably to come up with a solution that protects Dreamers from deportation. And now, House Republican leadership has blocked a fix that has overwhelming public support and a majority of the members of the House want to vote on.

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NAFTA’s Problems

Ask Your State Legislators to Speak Out Against ISDS

Corporate lobby groups are freaking out!  They’re upset the word is finally getting out about the damage that Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) can cause to jobs, the environment and public health.

TAKE ACTION: Please write your state legislators urging them to join others speaking out against the ISDS corporate power grab.

As you may know, the United States, Mexico and Canada are currently renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  One of the proposals on the table is to remove Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions from NAFTA altogether.

Unsurprisingly, wealthy corporate interests are fighting tooth-and-nail to save this system that lets them profit at the expense of our democracy.  Among many other steps, they’ve gone so far as to air television ads in support of ISDS in Washington, DC.

The current ISDS system enables transnational corporations to challenge federal and state laws, local land use ordinances and even court decisions before arbitration panels of three corporate lawyers.  These ISDS panels can award unlimited sums of taxpayer money, including for the loss of future profits.  The corporations need only convince panelists that a law, ordinance or court ruling violates the expansive rights granted to them under NAFTA.  Their decisions are not subject to appeal.

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Pittsburgh Workers Oppose Theft of Wages from Immigrant Roofers

 

by Mike Elk

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O’HARA, PENNSYLVANIA  – Popping out of the luscious greenery along the banks of the Allegheny River emerges the head of a giant 15-foot tall brown rat in a red tank sitting on top of a 4-foot high chunk of cheese.

“For us, the rat represents Stapleton Homes,” says Guillermo Perez, president of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA). “The rat represents a business model that exploits workers.”
The workers here have gathered to protest Stapleton Homes, owners of the Chapel Harbor luxury condos on the banks of the Allegheny, only 15 minutes from the heart of booming Downtown Pittsburgh.

Last summer, a family team of five roofers from Guatemala spent ten days in 100-degree heat roofing the condos as they were preparing to go on the market. When the team completed the job, the immigrant workers building the project were never paid the $5,000 they were owed.

“It’s just wrong,” says 27-year-old Guatemalan immigrant “Gladys” as her young toddler runs around playing in the grass. “We have kids, I have family. I have more family in Guatemala…It’s not fair that we didn’t get paid.”

On Saturday, the Latino workers, members of organized labor and concerned community members gathered near the entrance of Chapel Harbor to protest what they see as wage theft.
“We love our community along the Allegheny, but the one thing we don’t love is taking from workers,” says Chapel Harbor homeowner Kevan Yenerall, whose wife is an immigrant from Thailand.
“[The workers] need to know that the people who live in Chapel Harbor are wonderful people, they work in the neighborhood, they pay taxes in the neighborhood, they aren’t in favor of what’s happening here,” says Yarnell. “My neighbors are wonderful folks, we love our homes, but this is awful.”

Stapleton Homes did not return a request for comment about the incident.

The story of Gladys and her crew is one that’s becoming increasingly common as Latino immigrants show up to take advantage of the massive building boom set off by Pittsburgh’s tech and natural gas boom.

Building contractors and construction unions in the area are struggling to find new workers.  And contractors regularly approach Latino labor leaders, desperately seeking new workers to fill these jobs.

Many immigrants say they prefer construction work to other types of work available to them.

“I used to work in the restaurant industry, I didn’t like it, and so I decided to try this,” says Gladys. “There is more independence.”

However, Latino workers in Pittsburgh often experience wage theft and are chronically underpaid compared to their unionized counterparts. Gladys says members of her crew on average make only $800 a week while working 12-15 hour days often in the heat on top of roofs.

Now, the areas’ unions are trying hard to organize workers regardless of immigration status and documentation.

“If we don’t step up and keep the pressure on [these contractors], they are just going to keep doing it,” says Joseph Hughes, a union representative with Painters’ Union District Council 57.

“I see this every day, thousands of contractors around the state of Pennsylvania do this everyday. This isn’t an isolated problem” Hughes tells the crowd.
Among the crowd, that day on the side of the highway in O’Hara Township, Gladys and her crew of a half-dozen roofers were some of the few Latino faces in the crowd of 50.
As a result of the economic downturn in Pittsburgh in the 1980s and 90s, which saw half the population of Pittsburgh leave, there was never as large of an influx of Latinos as in other areas of the country. In Pittsburgh, Latinos make up only 1.7 percent, while 17.6 percent of the U.S. population is Latino.
The crowd of supporters at the protest was mainly white, but numerous speakers in the crowd said they feel a sense of solidarity as their parents and grandparents worked similar jobs when they came to Pittsburgh from Southern and Eastern Europe in the early 1920s.
“This is such an important issue because it hits home to me. Both of my parents were immigrants that came [from Italy] after World War Two and they meet learning English at Allderdice High School,” says Anita Prizio, a 54-year-old DSA member who was recently elected to County Council to represent the region around Chapel Harbor.”
“My parents built the house that I still live in and they also created a company [that I run], but the one thing they told me and I learned this is that to be a good business owner, you have to be an ethical business owner, you have to have integrity and you have to pay your workers,” says Prizio. “There were times that it was hard for my parents to make payroll, but the first thing they did was to pay the workers before they actually paid themselves.”

“I stand in solidarity with Gladys and her workers because it’s the right thing to do and business should do the right thing,” says Prizio.

The campaign marks the beginning of new efforts by the area’s construction unions and community groups to combat the growing trend of wage theft facing workers. Recently, the Painters Union even donated a new sign to Casa San Jose, a Latino Resource and Welcome Center founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph in the growing Latino community of Beechview.

Unlike other cities with large Latino populations, Pittsburgh currently doesn’t have a workers’ center for non-union workers, where low wage workers win claims against employers that fail to pay them on time.

While groups are pushing for the establishment of a worker center, the task has fallen to an ad hoc coalition of activists associated with the LCLAA, building trade unions, area labor lawyers and the Thomas Merton Center community group. Gladys says support from these groups has been uplifting as a new member of the Pittsburgh community.

“I feel very welcomed by the community,” says Gladys. “We appreciate the support.”

The embrace by organized labor is part of a larger shift occurring nationally as building trade unions begin to embrace immigrant labor as opposed to keeping them off out of workplaces.

While activists associated with the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement say they would like to see unions and other groups step up to fund a workers’ center, they say that the protests have been a learning experience for the Pittsburgh community.

As the protest ends, Perez takes the microphone and taught the yinzer crowd a few words of Spanish.

“El pueblo que lucha, triunfa.”

When we fight, we win.

Reposted from the Payday Report. 

Poor People’s Campaign Defends Workers’ Rights – Sacramento

 

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by Duane Campbell

Hundreds of tenants, low-wage workers, clergy, union members and community activists descended upon the California state capitol today in a show of collective power to demand that state lawmakers take action to address the state’s homelessness crisis and to combat the systemic racism and poverty in our communities.

Working families traveled from San Diego, Los Angeles, Salinas, and the Bay Area to join in this fifth successive week of nonviolent direct action.

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California DSA Members at the Poor People’s Campaign  June 11, 2018

Speakers and participants included union workers protesting the attack on workers rights and their unions.   Anti-worker attacks – like Janus V AFSCME –  would create so called ‘Right to Work’ status for government workers in California and around the nation.  See demands below.

“ The greedy rich and the corporations backing Janus are coming after us because they know about our power in numbers, and they know what we can accomplish when we stand together,” said David Dunbar a SEIU Local 721 member from Los Angeles.

As the rally concluded, hundreds entered the capitol building to take their message directly to the lawmakers and to bear witness to their crisis when communities are torn apart by homelessness, poverty wages, systemic racism, and corporate greed.

Today’s event was one of thirty in state capitols across the nation and in Washington D.C.  This is the fifth week of the campaign.  The protests across the nation are organized to reignite the Poor People’s Campaign of 1968 started by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and many others to challenge racism poverty and militarism.

Demands: Protect Workers, Their Families and the Right To Organize

The expectation of finding one good job and keeping it for a lifetime has been replaced by the need to jump from job to job, without secure benefits or steady income. Workers are increasingly bearing all the economic risk of corporate losses, economic downturn and unemployment. Jobs are not only outsourced, but they are also automated away. Low wages are the norm. Continue reading

Support Wendt Ironworkers in Buffalo

by Eric Lee, LabourStart

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On June 2017, workers at Wendt Corporation, a scrap metal recycling plant based in Buffalo, New York (USA) successfully fought for respect and dignity by forming a union, joining the Ironworkers Union.  That’s the good news.

The bad news is that a year later, the company refuses to negotiate in good faith with the union for the first collective bargaining agreement. And Wendt has also launched an anti-union campaign, harassing union members and threatening to lay-off workers.

The global union federation Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI), to which the Ironworkers are affiliated, has launched a global appeal for solidarity with the workers at Wendt.

We are calling on the company to stop the anti-union campaign and to negotiate with the workers.

Please take a few seconds and send off your message to support these workers:

http://www.labourstart.org/go/wendt

In the current climate in the US, workers show great courage in taking the decision to organize into a trade union.  Let’s mobilize many thousands of our fellow union members to show those workers in Buffalo that they are not alone.  Share this campaign – spread the word!

AFL-CIO Views the Future of Work

by Daniel Adkins

Technology Must Be Used for Good, Not Greed

 On May 3 AFL-CIO President Trumka opened the presentation of the AFL-CIO Commission on the Future of Work and Unions.   The presentation was divided into three segments, the first a discussion of the ideas of union leaders.  One view was that “acquiescence bargaining” – in which unions approve new working conditions and technologies in return for more (or less) pay or benefits — was becoming less relevant, and that artificial intelligence AI automation were an increasing threat to employment.

According to the commission’s presentation, it appears the U.S. labor movement’s weakness has blocked it from replicating European unions who negotiate technological functions and communications. Norwegian unions have negotiated changes in new technology that allow workers to communicate better with each other.  Even the Soviets ensured that their assembly line had workers close enough to each other to communicate, while U.S. corporations have tried to keep assembly line stations far enough from each other to inhibit worker interaction.

The main fear of union leaders is the loss of jobs in the next decades due to the pace of technological change.  Change and the Republican war on education seem to have a real potential for chaos.  One union leader suggested that future employment would require periodic sabbaticals for all workers.   The idea is to both renew training and education, as well as make space for hiring additional workers replacing workers on sabbatical.

Education is a basic concern of the AFL-CIO.  Millennial workers share this focus as one presenter noted that 50% of younger workers already have associate degrees or more.  It seems millennial workers are adapting to the increased challenges through education.  It was noted that the AFL-CIO already trains more workers than everyone but the U.S. military.  The Building Trades training has moved on from paper and blueprints to tablets, and now virtual reality tech.

Some union leaders pay attention to the possibility of a universal national income, but fear it may only create a sub-class in poverty.

Unions see self-driving vehicles and automation as potential employment problems but other analysts are less pessimistic.  From the start of the U.S. to the 1850s, the number of farmers declined from 90% to 40% of the population.  This did not create unemployment as people found new jobs in a growing economy.  However, this type of transition may not be so easy today.  It might happen more easily as the general population becomes more educated, but we will have to deal with the one percent having their own ideas of where the national funds go, as well as the Republicans’ war on education.

The diversity among young workers is extensive and a driving force.  Women and people of color will each soon make up 50% of the workforce.

The historic mode of labor relations called Taylorism is still a force that undercuts labor.  Taylorism or scientific management treats workers as robots to be programed by engineers and has not been abandoned.  Amazon has upgraded it to have automation “run” the workers.  Taylorism reinforces the view that labor is a factor in your spreadsheet to be programmed and not a partner in production and creation.  In Europe some workers and their unions play a role in creative processes.  As people become more educated or highly trained, they are more likely to want to be part of the process.  This creates a current trend in some jobs of having computers being tools to expand the human’s reach.  For most of us, how we work will be an area of struggle.

A theory opposing Taylorism is seen in the quality movement as developed by W. Edwards Deming who saw that we need a comprehensive understanding of the work and to give the workers the analytical tools to facilitate change.  The idea is to get those closest to the work to analyze the problems.  Some people oppose the quality movement, as workers mostly do not get compensated for their mental labor.  However, moving workers to be involved potential planning could prepare them to bargain better.

Young workers  

Karen Rice topped off the section on new labor with the story of the new union of graduate students at Georgetown University.  The unionization was influenced by the university management’s lack of concern with labor issues.  Georgetown University saw graduate work as a benefit that needed little compensation, but when a graduate student was fired because she did not show up for work four days after having a baby, it was clear that things needed to change.  Georgetown University has an ethic, taken from Christianity, which is to guide life.  The grad students mobilized to lobby stakeholders (parents and donors) on how that ethic was being ignored at a special university day.   The administration soon came to the students for bargaining.

This presentation was a chance to see what AFL-CIO leaders and their allies are thinking about the future of work.  If you can get away from your work in D.C., similar meetings will provide new information and networking possibilities.  For those new to DSA, we should remember that in the 70s we had William Winpisinger the President of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Union as a member.

Text of opening remarks by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka at the opening meeting of the Commission on the Future of Work and Unions

https://aflcio.org/speeches/trumka-technology-must-be-used-good-not-greed

Daniel Adkins was a member of the National Treasury Employees Union while working at the U.S. Department of Energy.  He is a member of D.C. Metro DSA

 

Sacramento County Ends Cooperation With ICE

DSAAs Co Chair of DSA’s Immigrants’ Rights Committee I testified  on May 29 to the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors to not renew an existing contract with ICE to use the Sacramento County Jail to hold immigrants.  California, and Sacramento, is already a Sanctuary state/county.

On Tuesday, the County Supervisors voted 3-2 to end the contract in opposition to the position of the pro Trump Sherrif and his allies.

http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/article212627694.html

Opposition to the use of the jail for immigration holds by ICE developed significantly as a response to the Trump campaign of defamation against our sanctuary policies and the development of the new Trump Administration policy of separating children under 4 years old from their parents upon arrest.

See the post below.

The campaign  was an effort of a broad coalition, including DSA.

As the campaign mounted, we received significant local media support.   Author Sasha Abramsky compared the work of ICE agents to those prosecuted at Nuremberg after WW II.  http://antiracismdsa.blogspot.com/2018/06/will-ice-agents-be-able-to-live-with.html

The local paper which is decidedly moderate on most things, editorialized strongly against continuing the ICE Contract asking, How much is it worth to Sacramento County to stop being part of the Trump administration’s deportation machine?

Below is a brief excerpt of my testimony and the background.

My Name is Dr. Duane Campbell.

I am the Co Chair of the Immigrants’ Rights Committee of Democratic Socialists of America.

This issue before you is one of human decency.  Under the Trump Administration ICE has developed a new policy of deliberately separating families of immigrants and refugees.  They are separating parents from their children as a form of collective punishment.   They are violating both due process and human rights.

Sacramento County should not be a party to this “ foul deportation and family destruction machine. “   We must take a stand. We call upon you to take a stand for justice and humanity,  to not  collaborate with an evil project.

I urge you to refuse to renew the contract between the County and ICE for the holding of immigrants. “

In the vote we won 3-2.

Ed. Note.  Some 7,500 ICE Agents are represented by ICE Council, part of the American Federation of Government Employees.  The union has taken a position to oppose the smuggling of children.  It has not taken a position on the deliberate separation of families as a deterrent strategy.