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2. More info
Mon Oct 8, 2012, 10:58 PM
Oct 2012
The unions, at least, understand that there is a better way. They see immigration reform as an issue of worker empowerment. If undocumented immigrants undercut wages and job conditions for Americans — and many do, by tolerating low pay and abuse and bolstering an off-the-books system that robs law-abiding employers and taxpayers — it is because they cannot stand up for their rights.

“Workers don’t depress wages. Unscrupulous employers do,” said Terence O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America. Unemployment in his industry is above 21 percent. Nearly two million construction workers are out of work. So what does Mr. O’Sullivan want? Reform that allows immigrants to legalize. “If we can free them so they can come out of the shadows, we can not only improve their lives, but all workers’ lives,” he said.

Eliseo Medina, the international executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union, agreed. “First and foremost, this is an economic argument,” he said.

Making the pro-union case for reform is not necessarily going to be easy. Even as immigration has changed the face of many American unions, hostility to foreigners remains a problem among some of the rank and file. Mr. Medina said union leaders were going to have to work hard to make members understand that false populism was not on their side.

“You may not want to do this because you like José Rodríguez,” Mr. Medina said, “but this affects you. Your standard of living is not going to improve, and you’re not going to be in a stronger position to solve your problems as long as you have all of these people out there without any rights — without any ability to contribute. Things will only get worse, not better.”

These foreign born workers are combative and militant, and make the best union members, yet no major labor union will fight for them. In many respects, even the United Farm Workers Union has now withdrawn much of its support since it joined the reformist AFL-CIO.

This is not to deny that there are no labor organizations at all representing undocumented workers. Seventeen percent of them in this country are now union members. In addition, there are independent unions and associations like the Texas Farmworkers Union, CASA-General Brotherhood of Workers, and the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, which represents immigrant workers. But the independent farm worker unions and associations are not united in a nationwide effort or allied with organized labor. That must be one of the major tasks of the IWW. We must actively seek to recruit, represent, and organize undocumented workers and other immigrants, and affiliate with the independent unions and immigrant workers associations. The IWW must fight for these workers' rights and against the racism and xenophobia conjured up by the government and the bosses. The IWW must unite with foreign born workers and make their demands part of the demands for the entire working class for better conditions and humane treatment. Only by fighting for the most oppressed workers can we dare to call ourselves representative of the working class. We must demand:

an end to discrimination against foreign born workers. Union wage levels for all work performed.
improved working and living conditions, including being provided with union-approved low cost housing.
social and working benefits as native born workers.
the right to organize Labor unions without employer or government interference.
land to the tillers, and the disbanding of agribusiness conglomerates. Worker's should seize land if government will not provide them with land and implements.
creation of an independent Farm Labor Commission by unions to investigate the conditions of farm laborers and ensure that their living and working conditions meet federal safety standards and do not violate Labor laws, or the civil rights of workers.
an end to harassment and deportation by La Migra, the Immigration and Nationalization Service's police.
free immigration to the US for all who wish to work.
the freedom of all immigrants confined in federal or State prison for mere entry into the country.


Couple links to immigrant unions mentioned above:

In my view both the AFL-CIO reformist approach to change immigration laws working through system and work of IWW and illegal immigrant unions to organize and strengthen labor unity are needed.
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