Paul Booth: Organizer, Teacher, RIP

Six days ago, I was having an email exchange with the author of a piece I was editing on how Democrats can both turn out their base and reach out to voters outside their base in the 2018 midterms. We were going back and forth on three points in the piece—chiefly, on whether Latinos could be said to have realigned themselves more toward the Democrats during the 1990s (the author’s position) or whether so many new Latino voters came forth during that decade that their Democratic shift was more a surge than a realignment (my position).

After dredging up the exit poll percentages from the California gubernatorial elections of 1990, 1994, and 1998, and doing the numerical calculations (candidate preference percentage times Latino share of the electorate times raw number of votes cast) to come up with the steadily declining number of Latino votes for the Republican gubernatorial candidates in those three elections, the author quietly and indisputably won his point.

He then added: “I’m a trifle indisposed though I will try to do some revisions on points 2+3 later this morning. (Actually I’m at Sibley [a Washington, D.C., hospital] dealing with a flare-up of leukemia!). Can you point me to more data sources on the CA question?”

The indisposed author—Paul Booth—suddenly and shockingly died yesterday, succumbing to his flare-up of leukemia. So suddenly and unexpectedly that his wife, the legendary organizer Heather Booth, was on Capitol Hill getting herself arrested for demanding justice—and legal standing, and a path to citizenship—for DACA recipients and the other undocumenteds. Continue reading

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Me Too + Labor Unions

http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/20793/me-too-workers-women-unions-sexual-harassment-labor-movement-lessons

#SaveTPS: A Working-Class Struggle

by Jessica F. Chilin-Hernández

dmv-sanctuary-movement-protest

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/

NLRB Rules Against Harvard in Graduate Student Unionization Appeal

By PHELAN YU, CRIMSON STAFF WRITER

Harvard may have to hold a new election to determine whether eligible students can form a union after the National Labor Relations Board ruled against the University’s appeal Tuesday.

Harvard had appealed a previous NLRB decision requiring the University to hold a new election, arguing that the results of the Nov. 2016 election—the initial results of which showed more students voting against unionization than in support of it—should stand. Since August, the federal NLRB—a panel of presidential appointees—had weighed the University’s appeal, and on Tuesday decided to uphold the previous NLRB ruling that the election results were invalid.

Months of controversy and legal challenges roiled last year’s student unionization election as union advocates charged that Harvard had not provided the proper voter lists before the election. At stake is whether or not eligible graduate student researchers and teaching assistants and undergraduate teaching assistants at Harvard can collectively bargain with the University.

Representatives from the Harvard Graduate Student Union-United Automobile Workers were quick to celebrate the decision. Some union advocates had worried that the NLRB’s majority Republican membership would sink their chances after more than a year of legal challenges.

“We’re excited to have a new election,” said Andrew Donnelly, a graduate student and union organizer.

In an emailed statement, University spokesperson Anna Cowenhoven did not comment on whether Harvard will hold a new unionization election.

“The University continues to believe the November 2016 student unionization election was fair and that well-informed students turned out in high numbers to vote. It is disappointing that the NLRB has not upheld our students’ decision to vote against unionization in that election,” she wrote.

In a press release, Julie Kushner, Region 9A Director of the United Automobile Workers, wrote that the NLRB’s ruling was an encouraging development.

“This is another great victory for graduate workers in the UAW and a shot in the arm to this growing movement,” Kushner wrote.

Reposted from The Harvard Crimson

End of the Legal Line for Gerawan Farms – Capital & Main

Source: End of the Legal Line for Gerawan Farms – Capital & Main  

by David Bacon

For Thanksgiving- Thank a Farm Worker

This Thanksgiving thank a farm worker

Happy Thanksgiving. We want to extend our warm thanks to you for being our loyal supporter and helping farm workers. As our families prepare to gather around the Thanksgiving table, we want to ask everyone to take a second to thank the men and women who labor to put the food on our Thanksgiving tables, and whose labor feeds us all year long. These hard working people labor day after day behind the scenes in heat, cold and rain to harvest the food that ends up in supermarkets and eventually on your table.

Join us in recognizing them and letting them know we appreciate everything they do, by signing the online Thanksgiving card our organizers will share with our members at their various farms and dairies. Please take an extra 30 seconds and add your own personal message.

UFW members are marking this Thanksgiving holiday season with a campaign they launched at their latest gathering of worker leadership. Members from Coachella, Ventura County, San Joaquin Valley, Monterey County, Sonoma County, and Oregon and Washington states have taken their message about the benefits of having a union contract out to their communities and social media. “From Our Hands to Your Tables” highlights their stories and the work they do every day.

To follow this campaign go to: https://www.facebook.com/unitedfarmworkers/ and https://twitter.com/UFWupdates or look for our #ThankAFarmWorker and #WeFeedYou hashtags on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

What Does the Revival of Socialism Mean for the U.S. Labor Movement?