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