Abolish ICE Demonstration-Sacramento

Poster - Abolish Ice - DSA nationalLACLAA ( Labor Committee for Latin American Advancement)  organized a  dynamic demonstration today at the ICE offices in Sacramento to oppose the policies of jailing children and to slow down ICE.  Photos, videos, and sound recordings contributed to the scene.

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Desiree Rojas, Sacramento LACLA President pointed to large photos and said we have now seen children put into dog kennels.  We have seen ICE Separate families. And, we must resist.

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Desiree Rojas LCLAA

“We will fight for the children !  We will fight back against ICE !”

LACLAA , a part of the AFL-CIO, has been organized and active in Sacramento since 1982 and was particularly active in the anti NAFTA efforts and in organizing annual Cesar Chavez marches.

Local residents of the Japanese Citizens League,  who had themselves been incarcerated in 1942 in the Japanese Incarceration told of their stories.  And, how the incarceration haunted them for decades.

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Fabrizio Sasso

Fabrizio Sasso, Executive Secretary of the Sacramento Central Labor Council  described today’s effort as a part of the battle for Freedom and Democracy.

The video is here. https://www.facebook.com/sacramentolabor/

Duane Campbell (DSA) the Co Chair of the Immigrants’ Rights Committee of Democratic Socialists of America told the crowd of some 200 of the DSA campaign to Abolish ICE.

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Duane Campbell – DSA Immigration Committee

“This issue before us 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.    We have seen the photos. We know what is happening! Continue reading

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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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Building Global Labor Solidarity: A Review

by Paul Garver

 

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Building Global Labor Solidarity in a Time of Accelerating Globalization.  Edited by Kim Scipes. Haymarket Books, 2016.

I do not have any good reason for taking so long to review this valuable book.  I picked it up only at the recent Labor Notes Conference after discussing it with Scipes there.  Did I arrogantly believe think that after decades as a global labor activist that I had nothing new to learn?  This collection of essays proves me wrong.

I have been acquainted with Kim Scipes since I invited him to join a mini-conference on international labor at the Blue Mountain Center in 1988.   Once a US Marine, he became a sociologist and an activist in teachers’ and writers’ unions.  Scipes was then, and remains, a tireless critic of the AFL-CIO’s international policies, writing numerous books and articles on the topic

Thirty years ago, I fully agreed with Scipes that the AFL-CIO’s international policy was unambiguously nefarious in its intentions and consequences of workers around the world.  Under the strongly anti-Communist presidents George Meany and Lane Kirkland, the AFL-CIO turned over its field operations in its regional institutes mostly to members of the Social Democrats USA, a smallish sect stemming from the pro Vietnam War wing of the former Socialist Party.  While paying verbal obeisance to free and democratic trade unionism, operatives of the AFL-CIO’S government-funded regional institutes tried to build pro-US union federations and from time to time supported right-wing coups and US military and political interventions.

In the 1980s my SEIU local leadership supported my involvement in union solidarity missions to Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala.  At the SEIU convention in Toronto in 1988, I helped organize a large group of local delegates that successfully put forth and negotiated a composite resolution on SEIU’s international policy that effectively replaced adherence to U.S. imperial policies with an emphasis on pragmatic solidarity with all global workers based on mutual interests in the globalized economy.  Both the then SEIU President John Sweeney and the Left bloc of delegates asked me to introduce the report from the convention resolutions committee which had negotiated agreement on the new language, which following seconding speeches from both reformers and administration loyalists, was unanimously adopted by the Convention delegates.

A convention resolution does not immediately change union policy, and in any event international labor solidarity has never been high on SEIU’s list of priorities.  But when John Sweeney became president of the AFL-CIO (following a contest with his former mentor AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Tom Donahue who shared Lane Kirkland’s Cold War views), he allowed a slow evolution of the Federation’s policies towards pragmatic support for more autonomous and even militant labor movements overseas.   The former regional groups that had promoted political anti-Communism were abolished in 1997, to be replaced by the American Center for International Labor Solidarity [“Solidarity Center”].  While still dependent on U.S. government funding, the Solidarity Center has developed credible programs to encourage independent union-building in several countries, ranging from Bangladesh and Cambodia through Haiti and the Dominican Republic to Egypt and Tunisia.

Thus the AFL-CIO followed the approach of long-standing union development agencies controlled by national union federations like those of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany, which made use of government funding to establish enduring partnerships with autonomous unions in developing countries.  The International Union of Food Workers (IUF), a global union federation for which I worked from 1990-2006, accepted well vetted project funding controlled by its affiliated unions in European countries, while remaining very reluctant to accept any funding from the USA, except for dues-based direct funding from affiliated American unions.  This was based upon very negative experiences that IUF affiliates had in the 1970s and 1980s with covert interference from AIFLD [American Institute for Free Labor Development] and other US regional labor institutes. However, this reluctance is slowly receding in recent years as experiences overseas unions have had with Solidarity Center programs have become generally positive.   Most staffers of the Solidarity Center both in Washington and in its numerous field programs throughout the world now are recruited for their pragmatic skills in union building and appear ideologically committed to working towards a solidaristic global labor movement.

Organizing at the global level with the IUF convinced me that it was necessary and possible to organize workers from all parts of the world into effective networks within specific global corporations (I worked on this task with the IUF on Coca-Cola, Nestle and other global food and drinks corporations).  This work is neither spectacular nor immediately effective, but in the long run lasting connections among workers based on mutual interests forged in face-to-face encounters do provide a counter-power to global capitalism.

The essays collected in this volume by Kim Scipes partially reflect this evolution.  Scipes himself remains very skeptical that the AFL-CIO has actually changed its spots in any consistent or persistent direction.  He cites both in this volume and in other writings, that the Solidarity Center in Venezuela supported a union whose leader briefly supported a coup against Hugo Chavez.   He also cites the 2013 AFL-CIO convention at which resolutions against imperialist wars were blocked from the chair.   His own conceptualization of global labor solidarity seems strongly rooted in an enduring belief that U.S. imperialism is by far the major obstacle to establishing global worker solidarity.  He argues consistently that its almost exclusive reliance on U.S. government funding compromises the Solidarity Center.  While he refers to the need to build global union and worker alliances against transnational capitalism and in specific global corporations and sectors, he does not feature it much in his own analysis.

In his essay “Building Global Solidarity Today: Learning from the KMU in the Philippines” Scipes presents what he considers to be a leading instance of a national union center (Kilusang Mayo Uno – May First Movement) practicing genuine trade unionism at home and abroad.  Scipes attended “International Solidarity Affairs” programs conducted by the KMU in 1988 and 2015, also conducting some field research in the Philippines.  I agree with Scipes that the KMU’s international efforts are commendable, but fear that in isolation such isolated efforts are insufficient to challenge capital at the global level.

To his credit, Scipes includes several superb essays by contributors who have fresh and compelling insights into major global labor issues that they elaborate in considerable detail.

Timothy Ryan has been Asia regional director of the Solidarity Center since 2001, after serving as a field representative in Sri Lanka and Indonesia.  His essay, “It Takes More than a Village” is a comprehensive analysis of how technical training in organizing and collective bargaining [assisted by the Solidarity Center field office] combined with external leverage through links with consumer organizations in Europe and North America over a long stretch of time enabled the beginnings of union organization among garment workers in Bangladesh, following the Rani Plaza building collapse and factory fires that killed so many workers.   Ryan’s essay exemplifies how global campaigns that actually empower rank-and-file workers can be built against tremendous political and economic opposition.  Scipes shows admirable generosity in including this essay by a key officer of an organization that he in principle disapproves.

Mike Zweig’s “Working for Global Justice in the New US Labor Movement” draws upon his own active involvement in US Labor against the War [USLAW] both to describe some new and tentative steps US unions have taken to oppose wars and support unionists in Iraq.  He favorably cites the reform of the Solidarity Center.  Where Scipes sees a glass mostly empty at the AFL-CIO, Zweig sees it as partially full.  However Zweig at the same time calling for a new culture of independent labor politics that would provide a more secure foundation for deep reform of the US labor movement.

David Bacon’s “Building a Culture of Solidarity across the US-Mexican Border” is based on his own extensive knowledge as a journalist and photographer working on both sides of the border.  He develops a convincing case that the most organic and powerful link between the progressive movements of Mexico and the United States consists in the Mexican workers and families who live and work in both countries.    Bacon cites the solidarity work of the United Steelworkers (USW) with the Mexican unions SME and ‘los Mineros”, which is based both on actions against common multinational employers, and on the community and family ties among workers.  [Ben Davis, first at the Solidarity Center in Mexico and later at the USW International Department, has facilitated this ongoing connection].

Finally for a fresh perspective I recommend Jenny Jungehülsing’s “Building Bridges Between the Labor Movement and Transnational Migration Research”, which draws out the potential for international solidarity based on ties among migrants.  Her case studies include the USW-Los Mineros relationship as well as the ongoing relationship between the Salvadoran members of the LA-based SEIU Service Workers West local and the FMLN in El Salvador.

In conclusion, if you have any interest in building global labor solidarity, buy and read this book.  It is currently available from Haymarket Books for $9.50 (PB plus e-book) or $5.00 (e-book only).

 

Supreme Court v Labor Rights

Yesterday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis―siding with businesses and the Trump administration over working people―deals a significant blow to workers’ fundamental right to join together to address workplace disputes.

In its decision, the Court majority has affirmed that employers may force working people to sign away their right to join together and act collectively to seek justice when disputes arise in the workplace.

Whether it’s fair pay, discrimination, or sexual harassment, workers rely on their ability to join together―whether informally or in formal litigation―to remedy violations of workplace protections. The National Labor Relations Act has long guaranteed working people the right to join together to improve their wages and working conditions. Congress must act to restore this fundamental right by banning forced arbitration agreements and class and collective action waivers.

Sign the petition demanding Congress act immediately to protect the rights of over 60 million U.S. workers who are being forced to sign away their rights to seek justice in the courts.

EPI research shows that between 1994 and today, the share of nonunion, private-sector employers who require their workers to sign forced arbitration agreements has increased from just 8 percent to 54 percent! That means that now, more than half of U.S. workers whose legal rights are violated by their employer are not able to pursue a claim in court. Further, research shows that 23.1 percent of private-sector nonunion employees, or 24.7 million American workers, no longer have the right to bring a class action claim if their employment rights have been violated. With yesterday’s ruling, that number will go even higher.  
This flies in the face of over 80 years of established law ensured by the National Labor Relations Act, which has guaranteed workers’ rights to stand together for “mutual aid and protection” when seeking to improve their wages and working conditions.

Demand immediate action by Congress to protect the rights of working people to seek justice in the court.

At a time of eroding protections for working people, EPI is fighting for the right to a safe workplace free of harassment or discrimination based on race, gender, or religion, and we’re working to strengthen laws protecting employment rights including minimum wage and the right to equal pay.

Thank you for all that you do on behalf of all working people.

Sincerely,

Celine McNicholas
Director of Labor Law and Policy, Economic Policy Institute

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TGIF Steals Tips of Workers in UK

 

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Workers at two UK restaurants of the US-based franchise chain TGI Friday’s struck for 24 hours on May 18 after being given two days’ notice that they would be stripped of 40% of their income from tips – a loss of up to GBP 250 per month. Workers at two other TGI Friday’s locations have voted 100% in favor of possible strike action on June 25, with other locations set to follow.

As the strikes commenced on May 18, the IUF-affiliated Unite held lunchtime rallies at the restaurants to support the strikers before moving on to a mass low-pay rally in Central London including McDonald’s workers.

You can support the fight back against exploitation and low pay – CLICK HERE to send a message to CEO Karen Forrester, telling the company you support the workers’ demands and urging talks with Unite.

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CANADA: THE LABOUR MOVEMENT SPLITS

by Derek Blackadder

The big Canadian story so far this year is the decision by Unifor, the country’s largest private sector union, to leave the Canadian Labour Congress or CLC, the national labour centre.  The decision has sent shockwaves through all unions and it threatens not just national programmes but co-ordination between unions at the regional and local levels.

Splits in national labour movements are far from unknown.  In some countries longstanding ideological differences have meant that multiple national labour bodies are the norm as with Poland or India.  In the USA and South Africa splits over fundamental political or programmatic positions are more recent.  Other than a few years in the 1990s  when the building trades unions formed the Canadian Federation of Labour, the Canadian movement has been united since 1956 when two rival centres merged.

Unifor is the product of a series of mergers between unions dating back decades.  Most of the predecessor unions were the result of splits from an American parent union.  In the private sector most unions were and many still are sections of unions based in the USA.  The largest of Unifor’s predecessor unions, the Canadian Autoworkers or CAW, was formed when Canadian workers resisted the concessions that had been agreed-to by the UAW in bargaining with the large American car makers on both sides of the border.  Nationalism and a commitment to the creation of Canadian unions runs deep in Unifor culture.

Moves by Unifor to assist leaders of large local unions in taking their members out of US-based unions created considerable conflict within the leadership of the CLC.  Unifor sees its actions as supporting the right of workers to freely choose their union.  Opponents point to the CLC’s existing process by which unhappy workers can move from one union to another and attribute Unifor’s frustration to its inability to make gains in membership using that process.

Union activists are deeply worried that fighting over already organized workers will waste resources and serves as a distraction from the movement’s real task: organizing the unorganized.

On 16 January Unifor’s executive made the decision to leave the CLC, promising not to damage solidarity at the local level where unions co-ordinate national mass campaigns.  Several of these are under way at the moment and were, until recently, considered great successes, including one in support of coffee shop workers (see HERE for more).

Unifor explains its reasons for leaving the CLC HERE.

Within hours of the announcement Unifor, in concert with hotel union dissidents, began raiding workers who are currently members of UNITE-HERE, a US-based union.  At this point the Unifor campaign is having considerable success.

Leadership reaction to the split varies by union.  They range from attacks on Unifor to appeals for unification talks.  Activists across the country are expressing concern about Unifor’s motives and goals.  Cross-union caucuses and local Labour Councils (where activists from different unions co-ordinate local activities) are working to ensure effective solidarity despite the split.  See HERE for an example of the rank-and-file reaction and HERE for the reaction of the President of the Toronto Labour Council, the country’s largest.

The Canadian sections of what in North America are called international unions are turning inward and focusing on preparing their members for an approach by Unifor, on defending from a loss in membership.  Canada-only unions, referred-to as national unions, appear to be largely unconcerned about direct confrontations with Unifor.  Local Labour Councils and provincial Federations of Labour are working to minimize the impact, sometimes not knowing if the Unifor members elected to lead them are still eligible to do so.

LabourStart Canada will continue to follow this story as it develops and you can too by visiting the LabourStart Canadian news page or by following our Twitter feeds in both of Canada’s official languages: @LabourStartCanE for stories in English and @LabourStartCanF for stories in French.

This special report is reposted from LabourStart.  Look for the LabourStart table at the upcoming Labor Notes Conference in Chicago.

#SaveTPS: A Working-Class Struggle

by Jessica F. Chilin-Hernández

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Rally to Defend Dream Act and TPS on December 6, 2017 in Washington, D.C.. Image from DMV Sanctuary Network

By the time the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was announced in 2014, I had already benefited from another immigration relief program: Temporary Protected Status (TPS). In January and February 2001, my birth country of El Salvador experienced two earthquakes – a month apart from each other – that utterly devastated every aspect of life in Salvadoran Society. In order to help El Salvador reconstruct and get back on its feet, the United States extended TPS status to undocumented Salvadorans immigrants already in the U.S. I was one of them. Created by Congress in the Immigration Act of 1990, TPS was meant for people from countries going through environmental disaster and other extraordinary and temporary conditions or confronting armed conflict. Currently, the program is administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

In the past two months, TPS has come under attack from the Trump Administration. In November 2017, DHS terminated the program for Haiti, and four months later it extended that terrible decision to TPS-protected immigrants from Nicaragua and Honduras. Starting January 2019, an estimated 50,000 Haitians, 57,000 Hondurans, and 2,550 Nicaraguans with TPS status will become undocumented. They will be expected to leave the U.S. Furthermore, TPS was allowed to expire for three black-majority countries: Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone earlier this year. None of them were granted a renewal period as the DHS had done in previous years.

From a working-class perspective, terminating TPS would be catastrophic for workers and families. The Center for Migration Studies (CMS) has estimated that 81 to 88 percent of TPS-protected immigrants just from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti participate in the labor market – well above the rate for the total US population at 63 percent. Indeed, many TPS workers have been in the US for so long that they’re now homeowners and entrepreneurs, and so they are very invested in their local economies. For example, Salvadorans with TPS must have continuously resided in the U.S. since the designation date of March 9, 2001 – that’s more than a decade of working legally and paying taxes in the U.S. Furthermore, the Center for American Progress (CAP) calculates that the loss of TPS workers would cost employers $967 million in turnover and reduce America’s GDP by $164 billion over a decade. Of course, working people represent more than just economic contributions, but you’d think that reports like these would influence rational policymakers. But this administration operates with little regard to facts, policy briefs by experts, or peer-reviewed research. Instead, it responds to the worst instincts in our politics, even excusing and allying with white supremacy. This is not rational. It is shamelessly racist.

TPS is a racial and environmental justice issue. The program’s primary beneficiaries are Black, LatinX, Asian, and Middle Eastern. We come from Haiti, Syria, Nepal, Honduras, Yemen, Sierra Leone, El Salvador, Somalia, Guinea, South Sudan, Nicaragua, Liberia, and Sudan. All of these nations have historically been at the mercy of imperialist policies – by the U.S. and other countries — that pillage natural resources and do little to promote the well-being of residents, most of whom are people of color. For these countries, TPS was granted on account of either civil strife (usually the reason for Middle Eastern and African countries) and natural disasters (usually the reason for countries in Latin America and the Caribbean) thereby helping these countries rebuild what US Imperialism has destroyed. Thus, TPS is a form of humanitarian relief for civil war refugees and natural disaster victims that is also a form of reparations to formerly colonized working people of the world.

Similar to DACA, TPS beneficiaries like me receive provisional protection against deportation and permission to work in the United States for a limited period of time –no less than 6 months and no more than 18. In order to be eligible, immigrants from TPS-designated countries must be physically present in the U.S. on the date on which the program is designated for their nationality and must continue to reside in the U.S. In addition, the program does not grant permanent legal status in the United States, nor are TPS beneficiaries eligible to apply for permanent residence or for U.S. citizenship. In other words, working-class immigrants can be workers, but not residents let alone citizens.

My TPS work permit has provided me with many opportunities to pursue the American Dream by making it possible for me to join the workforce. It also allowed for me to file taxes – something that I’ve been doing since I was 17 years old. Since attaining full-time employment, I have been saving to purchase a home in Virginia for my mother. This is my greatest dream – the chance to honor my mother’s sacrifice by providing her with a home that she can call her own. Throughout my time living in the United States, I had never thought I’d be faced with the possibility of giving up this dream. Yet all of this changed on November 9, 2016. The morning after, I felt a fear unlike any I had felt before. The right side of my chest hurt, my stomach felt strange. I was hungry, but couldn’t bring myself to eat. I could just think of one thing: if Donald Trump’s DHS Secretary does not approve our renewals, then we’d potentially be forced to return El Salvador. As of today, I have 81 days left on my TPS work permit if the designation isn’t renewed by DHS.

Since the beginning of December, a number of actions have taken place in Capitol Hill to urge members of Congress to save TPS and pass a Clean Dream Act. The deadline for Congress to act is December 22 – the date Congress adjourns for the holidays. The urgency has escalated even more after Congress failed to include protections for immigrant youth in their spending bill fix. If Congress doesn’t act soon, then a number of Dreamers and TPS beneficiaries await deportation and an inhumane removal experience from US society.

As we have seen in recent years, more and more of our working-class brothers and sisters from the global south have had to flee civil war, genocide, economic exploitation, and the environmental effects of climate change – and that will almost certainly continue. Efforts have already begun to eliminate other venues for legal immigration, and the gradual termination of TPS is unlikely to be the end of the assault on immigrants under this Administration. If naturalized and documented allies do not step up to demand a comprehensive immigration reform that makes it easier for all workers, political asylees, climate change refugees, and persecuted people to pursue new beginnings in the United States, then we will forsake our responsibility to whose labor provided the capital to build the economies of developed nations.

Jessica F. Chilin-Hernández serves as Assistant Director of the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University. She is originally from San Salvador, El Salvador.

This article is reposted with permission from Working Class Perspectives. https://workingclassstudies.wordpress.com/author/workingclassstudies/