Cesar Chavez, the UFW, and Why Unions are Needed

by Duane E. Campbell

On March 31, 2015, Eleven states and numerous cities will hold holidays celebrating labor and Latino leader Cesar Chavez. ChavezConferences, marches and celebrations will occur in numerous cities and particularly in rural areas of the nation. A recent film Cesar Chavez: An American Hero, starring Michael Peña as Cesar Chavez and Rosario Dawson as Dolores Huerta presents important parts of this union story.

The current UFW leadership, as well as former UFW leaders and current DSA Honorary Chairs Eliseo Medina and Dolores Huerta are recognized leaders in the ongoing efforts to achieve comprehensive immigration reform in the nation.

ArturoUFW President Arturo Rodriquez says, “We urge Republicans to abandon their political games that hurt millions of hard-working, taxpaying immigrants and their families, and help us finish the job by passing legislation such as the comprehensive reform bill that was approved by the Senate on a bipartisan vote in June 2013,” Rodriguez said.  Similar compromise proposals, negotiated by the UFW and the nation’s major agricultural employer associations, have passed the U.S. Senate multiple times over the last decade. The same proposal has won majority support in the House of Representatives, even though House GOP leaders have refused to permit a vote on the measure. “The UFW will not rest until the President’s deferred relief is enacted and a permanent immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants, is signed into law.” www.UFW.org Continue reading

Immigration Reform, Activism, and Moral Certainty

by Duane Campbell

English: Eliseo Medina, Executive Vice Preside...

English: Eliseo Medina, former 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)

An argument is being made in many places in the Latino community condemning Obama for his not taking executive action on immigration and condemning Civil Rights veterans such as DSA Honorary Chairs Dolores Huerta and Eliseo Medina for their positions of not condemning the Obama lack of action. Here is an example. http://voxxi.com/2014/09/24/latino-leaders-wrong-obama-immigration/

A problem with this effort is that attacking our allies does not move immigration policy forward. And, an argument from a position of moral correctness does not necessarily change policy. We need to be on the morally correct side, as Huerta and Medina are, but that is not enough. See prior posts on this blog about Medina and Huerta.

I learned this in the anti war movement against the war in Viet Nam. We had hundreds of thousands in the streets opposed to the war, but the war went on. 58,000 U.S. soldiers died, 100,000s were injured. Over 1.2 million Vietnamese died. Although we were morally correct, the war went on.

In El Salvador between 1982 and 1992 the U.S. backed government carried out a civil war against the population. At least 75,000 were killed. In Nicaragua between 19 79-1990 at leas 40,000 were killed. In Guatemala the civil war cost at least 200,000 lives. Our solidarity efforts in the U.S. were morally correct, but our efforts did not change U. S. policy.

Moral correctness does not change policy because political and economic power largely controls this country. We have a political oligarchy- the control of our government by the super rich. Our government is dominated by corporations. We need to study and to understand neoliberal capitalism. Then, we will need to go to work to change it.

In the current immigration debate. Continue reading

Labor Leader Eliseo Medina on Fasting For Immigration Reform, Cesar Chavez

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has finished its work for the year without passing comprehensive immigration reform. On Thursday, leaders from both parties promised to revisit the issue early in the new year. Meanwhile, more than 1,000 immigration activists descended into the offices of House lawmakers on Thursday afternoon to protest the House’s inaction on the issue. The demonstrations came as the immigration reform organization “Fast For Families” concluded 31 days of fasting. Democracy Now speaks to Eliseo Medina, former International Secretary-Treasurer of the Service Employees International Union. Medina recently spent 22 days on a water-only fast. Medina worked alongside labor leader and civil rights activist César Chávez for 13 years. His career as a labor activist began in 1965 when, as a 19-year-old grape picker, he participated in the historic United Farm Workers’ strike in Delano, California.

Eliseo Medina’s Bold Fast

by Randy Shaw

The Obama's Visit Eliseo Medina, Fast for Families  The Obama's Visit Eliseo Medina, Fast for Families

The Obama’s Visit Eliseo Medina, Fast for Families
The Obama’s Visit Eliseo Medina, Fast for Families

In my September 30 tribute to Eliseo Medina’s legacy when he retired from SEIU, I said he “is retiring from his job, though not from immigrant rights activism.” This has become clear as Medina and other activists have held a Fast for Families on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The President, Michelle Obama and Valerie Jarrett all visited Medina and the other fasters on November 29, bringing needed national attention to House inaction on immigration reform. I discuss the strategic use of fasts by both Cesar Chavez and Eliseo Medina in my book on the farmworker movement and its legacy, and the 67-year old Medina’s current fast harkens back to Chavez’ Arizona fast that spawned the Si Se Puede UFW rallying call.

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Eliseo Medina, Who Reshaped Labor and Immigrant Rights Movements, Retires from SEIU

by Randy Shaw

Medina

Today is Eliseo Medina’s last day as the Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU International. Medina is retiring from his job, though not from immigrant rights activism, after nearly fifty years working for social change. Medina helped expand Latino union membership, and increased Latino voting and political empowerment. He secured SEIU resources to implement Latino voter outreach strategies that effectively changed the course of national politics, and played a leading role in broadening a network of immigrant rights groups into a national labor and church-backed movement.Medina’s activism began in 1965 at age 19 as an organizer with Cesar Chavez and the UFW. He was trained by the legendary Fred Ross Sr., who also mentored Chavez. Seen by many as Chavez’s successor, Medina abruptly left the UFW in 1978 over concern with the group’s direction. His departure began a mass exodus of the UFW’s key organizing talent, whose future endeavors became the subject of my previous book, Beyond the Fields. Medina’s legacy has parallels to Chavez, whose later failures left some to wrongly downplay his historic achievements. In Medina’s case, his support for SEIU President Andy Stern’s takeover of the California-based SEIU-UHW in 2009 and his refusal to publicly oppose Stern’s attempted seizure of UNITE HERE also that year alienated some of his former admirers into adversaries. Yet as with Cesar Chavez, Eliseo Medina’s rich life must be evaluated over the course of his career. Medina is among the most influential social change activists of his time, and his story should be known.In today’s United States, labor unions and Latino voters are two key pillars of progressive politics. Yet when Eliseo Medina worked for the UFW from 1965-1978, the situation was very different. The UFW was the only union that prioritized grassroots electoral outreach, and among the few groups focused on registering Latino voters and getting them out the vote. Continue reading

SEIU’s Eliseo Medina: “The Court has decided, but on Nov. 6 we will have the final say.”

Eliseo Medina

WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the key portion of the anti-immigrant Arizona law SB 1070 – the discriminatory provision that forces law enforcement to request immigration papers of anyone they suspect might be undocumented. While the court did not specifically consider the racial profiling or unconstitutional search and seizure issues in this limited case, law enforcement officers across the country have testified the law cannot be enforced without racial profiling.

On a key point, the court agreed that only the federal government should regulate immigration. The court also left the door open to future legal challenges, which SEIU and other plaintiffs in other lawsuits against SB 1070 are pursuing.

SEIU International Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina responded to the court’s ruling:

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Unions diverge on new immigration rules

by Duane Campbell

English: Eliseo Medina, Executive Vice Preside...

Image via Wikipedia

The Obama Administration acted on Friday to permit the husbands, wives, and children of U.S. citizens to adjust their status and to allow them to gain Green Cards or permission to become a resident alien.   This is a return to the policy before the 1996  Republican sponsored Immigration Act.

The primary beneficiaries of the  Obama administration’s move are families in which some members are US citizens and some aren’t.  At present some family members must return to their home country for up to 10 years while they apply for U.S. residency as a 1996 law – approved by a Republican-led Congress – mandates.

The proposed change will undergo a review but doesn’t require congressional approval. Under the so-called “hardship waiver,” illegal immigrants who are married or otherwise related to US citizens would be able to pick up the waiver before leaving the United States and then be allowed to return almost immediately after picking up visas in their home countries.  This policy used to be known as advanced parole. Continue reading

DSA Holds Convention in Washington

DSA at Occupy Wall Street

Democratic Socialists (DSA)  Hold Convention in Washington-

Responding to the Economic Crisis: Beyond the Washington Consensus.

“Occupy Wall Street and the Struggle for a Democratic Society-“

A plenary session at 1:30 PM  on Friday  will kick off  national convention of DSA, the Democratic Socialists of America to be held from on Nov. 11 through Nov. 13 at the Sheraton Premiere at Tysons Corner located at 8661 Leesburg Pike, Vienna, VA.

DSA, the  U.S. affiliate of the Socialist International, is the largest socialist political organization in the country with over 7000 members and active locals in more 40 U.S. cities and college campuses. DSA members reside in all 50 states.  Continue reading

Forum: Equality and Jobs for the 99 %

 

Official symbol of Socialist International.

Image via Wikipedia

Equality and Jobs for the 99%:  Economic Justice for All

A public event sponsored by Democratic Socialists of America

 November 11, 2011; 7:00 p.m.  Location: St. Stephen and Incarnation Church, 1525 Newton NW, Washington, D.C.

Speakers

 

Eliseo Medina – International Secretary-Treasurer, SEIU

Sarita Gupta – Executive Director, Jobs with Justice

John Nichols – Washington Correspondent, The Nation

Joslyn Williams – President, Metropolitan D.C. Central Labor Council

Maria Svart – National Director, Democratic Socialists of America

DSA, the principal U.S. affiliate of the Socialist International, is the largest socialist political organization in the country, with more than 6,000 members and active locals in more 40 U.S. cities and college  campuses. DSA Locals in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Wichita, among others, have taken an active role in the Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Freedom Plaza, and other Occupy protests in support of jobs and economic justice.

This forum  is organized in conjunction with the 15th National Convention of Democratic Socialists of America, which is being held at the Sheraton Premiere at Tysons Corner November 11-13, 2011. Visit www.dsausa.orgfor more information.

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SEIU’s Medina: “Business Death Penalty” Wrongly Upheld by U.S. Supreme Court

Eliseo Medina

WASHINGTON, D.C. – SEIU International Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina made the following statement today following the United States Supreme Court’s narrow ruling in favor of Arizona’s so-called “Business Death Penalty” law that strips business licenses away from employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers.

“Today’s United States Supreme Court decision upholding a narrow part of Arizona’s controversial anti-immigration agenda is deeply disappointing. For its part, the Supreme Court placed a stamp of approval on legislation that unfairly and unjustly targets working people and honest employers who contribute to local economies and help to make this nation great.

“We must emphasize that this ruling is limited in scope and does not address the broader legal issues contained in Arizona’s SB 1070 law passed last year. In SB 1070, Arizona tried to usurp federal authority on immigration, and lower courts already have found that states cannot violate the federal supremacy principles that govern our nation.
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