[Marxism] good column on immigrant worker rights by AFL-CIO

Andrew Pollack acpollack2 at yahoo.com
Mon Mar 27 17:52:40 MST 2006


This column continues the AFL's distancing itself from even the liberal McCain-Kennedy anti-immigrant bill. In this they are to the left of Change to Win. Support for that bill is one of many ways that pro-Democratic Party unions and immigrants' groups in NY have avoided mobilizing as has happened in other cities. 
  Chavez-Thompson argues that "all" bills in Congress "fail to protect even the most basic rights of immigrant workers and their families." And the reason for opposing even McCain-Kennedy is that "we must reject guest worker programs. Because these workers are wholly dependent on host employers for both their livelihoods and legal status, guest workers are ripe for exploitation."
  Thomas Munzer mentioned earlier today on this left a number of things workers could do to deepen the mobilization in heavily-immigrant unions. I would add that it’s equally incumbent on comrades in mostly-“native” unions (or in heavily-immigrant unions in NY which are sitting on their hands) to mobilize support for upcoming immigrants’ rights actions, including the April 10th actions which appears to have labor backing (see blog.aflcio.org, March 22 entry).
   
  ---------- Forwarded Message ----------
  New York Daily News - http://www.nydailynews.com 
  Fairness to workers is key to immigration reform 
  By LINDA CHAVEZ-THOMPSON 
  Sunday, March 26th, 2006 
   
  They are Latin American immigrants tending the manicured lawns in wealthy New 
  York neighborhoods. They are Indian computer programmers working for major 
  corporations. They are women, born in Mexico and Africa, who tend our children. 
  They pay taxes and have been contributing members of our communities for years. 
  Many have families. We rely on their labor each and every day. Yet the basic 
  rights of these workers - to a minimum wage, a safe workplace and fair treatment 
  - are routinely trampled upon. This exploitation hurts all of us, foreign and 
  native-born alike. It must end, and the overhauling of our nation's broken 
  immigration laws is essential to achieving this goal.
  Tragically, all immigration reform proposals currently circulating in the halls 
  of Congress fail to protect even the most basic rights of immigrant workers and 
  their families. Just last week, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) put 
  forth his own makeshift proposal - topping the list of legislative failures. He 
  wants to criminalize immigrant workers, deepening the potential for abuse and 
  exploitation while undermining wages and labor protections for all. 
   
  To achieve comprehensive immigration reform, we have to give up the illusion 
  that enforcement of laws alone can fix our broken system. Effective reform must 
  include three interdependent goals. First, our government must uniformly enforce 
  laws on workplace standards. All workers, including immigrants, should earn a 
  minimum wage, have safe jobs and receive fair treatment. When immigrants are 
  treated poorly, workplace standards are dragged down for all workers. Second, we 
  must reject guest worker programs. Because these workers are wholly dependent on 
  host employers for both their livelihoods and legal status, guest workers are 
  ripe for exploitation. Finally, there must be a path to permanent residency for 
  immigrant workers already here. 
   
  Undocumented workers are under constant threat of deportation, and employers 
  cheat them out of due wages. They work the most dangerous jobs - among 
  foreign-born workers, workplace fatality has increased by an alarming 46% 
  between 1992 and 2002. When immigrant workers try to correct these injustices by 
  forming unions, they are harassed, intimidated and terminated. When all else 
  fails to break a union drive, employers simply call in the immigration 
  authorities and everyone gets deported for standing up for basic rights.
   
  Criminalizing undocumented workers makes them easy prey for unscrupulous 
  employers. That in turn drives down working standards for all Americans and 
  creates an undemocratic, two-tiered society. 
   
  We need an immigration policy that provides a real path to citizenship for those 
  workers already here and that helps meet the future needs of workers in a fair 
  way. We should recognize immigrant workers as full members of society - 
  permanent residents with full rights that employers may not exploit. 
   
  As a nation that prides itself on fair treatment and equality, we simply cannot 
  settle for anything less.
   
  Chavez-Thompson is executive vice president of AFL-CIO. 
   
   
    
   

		
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