Unions diverge on new immigration rules

by Duane Campbell

English: Eliseo Medina, Executive Vice Preside...

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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

Columbia Free Trade Agreement ?

AFL-CIO Mike Hall. May 17, 2011.

Until Congress acts on renewing an enhanced Trade Adjustment Assistance Act (TAA) for workers who have lost their jobs because of outsourcing, offshoring and unfair trade deals, the Obama administration will not submit three pending trade deals to Congress, the White House announced yesterday.

Capitol Hill observers said Boehner and Republicans held the TAA extension hostage to force a commitment from the Obama administration to send three pending trade deals— Korea, Panama and Colombia—to Congress.

The AFL-CIO has long-backed TAA. In February, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called it a “lifeline for working people trying to get the skills necessary to change careers after their lives have been turned upside down.”

But the AFL-CIO remains firmly opposed to the Colombia, Korea and Panama free trade agreements.

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The economic crisis and the assault on unions and working people

by Duane Campbell

Duane Campbell

The nation and the states continue to suffer from the Great Recession and working people remain in crisis.  The crisis was caused by the greed and avarice of the financial class and aided by the politicians of both major political parties.   The  major banks and corporations looted the economy creating an international meltdown.  Now, they have been rewarded with bail out money and have returned to high profits.  The crisis was not caused by students, teachers, public employees  nor recipients of social security.     The  continuing economic decline has had a devastating impact on state budgets in  at least  42 states.   Revenues have continued to plunge and  legislatures  have been forced to make a series of deep cuts to virtually all of the state’s programs, health care, police protection, education and university systems.

The national unemployment rate edged down in February to 8.9 %, but remained high in many states and regions.  In California it is over 12.5%.  According to the Labor Center at U.C. Berkeley, the Black unemployment rate is 15.3 % and the Latino unemployment rate hovers around 11.6% in February.   These sustained high levels of unemployment and long term unemployment are devastating to families.

The corporate class is using the state budget crises to assault union workers in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania, Colorado  among others.  They do not need this assault in Texas, Arizona, Utah,  Virginia, and much of the South where public workers are already restricted from bargaining.

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Attacks on teachers’ unions and distortions continue

by Duane Campbell

The attacks on teachers and their unions continue from Newsweek, the Obama Administration, the New York Times and most media outlets. The Sacramento Bee editorial writers  joined in again attack teachers unions on July 7, 2010 in their support of SB 1285 to alter seniority rules. Let’s look at what they are actually advocating. In low performing schools new teachers, teachers with 1 -3 years of experience, would not be laid off. So, more experienced teaches, teachers with 4-6 years of experience, would be laid off. There is little gain here.

It is a tragedy that young teachers will be laid off.  It will impact their lives, their careers, and the future of the schools. But, what are the Bee editorial writers not saying?  They are not saying that the national economic crisis produced a fiscal crisis in the states, and in the last two years  California has cut over $16 billion from its schools.  The financial crisis caused the layoffs, not seniority.

It is most interesting that writers focus on teachers and seniority.  Why would that be?   In an excellent editorial, What’s Up with All the Teacher Bashing?  in the Summer issue of Rethinking Schools,  the editors say,

But if these attacks on teachers aren’t about ending the systemic racism that continues to undermine our education system, what is the goal?  With forces as seemingly disparate as the Obama administration, the Walton Foundation, the late Milton Friedman, and the New York Times all pushing the same ideas, this is a complicated question, but there are at least two major goals: destroy the power of the teachers’ unions, and turn the public school system from a public trust into a new market for corporate development. From the time of Reagan, who used his “welfare queen” stories to scapegoat the poor as a basis on which to destroy the welfare system, this has been a tried-and-true approach to privatization: use visceral anecdotes to whip up hysteria that a system is “broken,” argue that only market competition can fix the situation, and then sell off pieces of the public sector to private corporations. This time, teachers are the scapegoats. Continue reading