Statement by the United Front for Justice and Dignity
On September 10 at its national convention in Los Angeles, the leadership of the AFL-CIO — making use of bureaucratic procedures and subterfuge rarely seen even at these gatherings — pushed adoption of Resolution #4 on Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR), thus reversing the progressive positions on immigration policy that the federation had adopted 14 years earlier.
At its national convention in Los Angeles in 1999, the labor federation had adopted resolutions in support of amnesty/legalization for all undocumented workers in the U.S., and in opposition to border militarization, employer sanctions, and “guest-worker” programs of any kind.
Resolution #4 in the 2013 convention packet calls for support to the five pillars of CIR as developed by former Secretary of Labor Ray Marshall and as worked out in common between the AFL-CIO leadership and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. These five points are all written in very broad, and cryptic, language — and as such might not seem objectionable: path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, “rational operational control of the border,” “improvement of temporary worker programs,” as well as other provisions that “are on the side of justice … and strengthen our democracy.”
But they are objectionable because Resolution #4 — with its endorsement of these five points of CIR — has given the AFL-CIO leadership a convention mandate to continue campaigning for Obama’s immigration “reform” policies and, specifically, for Senate bill S.744 — a CIR bill that hurts immigrant communities.
S.744 is a “border security first” bill based on an unacceptable tradeoff: a path to citizenship promised to 11 million undocumented immigrants over a 13-year period (with countless obstacles that will likely see fewer than 2 million to 3 million people reaching the finish line) in exchange for the stepped-up militarization of the border (in fact, the Senate is allotting $50 billion to “seal” the border), increased repression against new undocumented immigrants and/or current immigrants who do not have continuous employment over the 13-year span, and a supposedly new and improved “guest-worker” program.
It is an unfixable and unamendable bill, as it was crafted, essentially, to meet the objectives of the corporations.
Nowhere in Resolution #4 — and at no time during the AFL-CIO convention proceedings — was there any mention of S.744. At no point did the AFL-CIO top officials call their resolution by its real name: a path toward endorsing S.744. They had to resort to sleight of hand to hide their true objective. But they could not hide it totally. Speaking at an immigration reform press conference the morning of the AFL-CIO convention vote, Maria Elena Durazo, executive director of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and chairperson of the AFL-CIO’s Committee on Immigration Reform, admitted to labor activists who challenged her on this question that, yes, the AFL-CIO supports S.744. (1)
“The AFL-CIO leadership demonstrated its outright deceitful behavior and manipulation of the honorable intentions of the delegates,” stated Nativo López, a long-time leader of Hermandad Mexicana and former national president of the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA), one of the oldest immigrant rights’ organizations in the country. “When I read Resolution #4, I concluded that I, too, would have risen to speak in favor and vote for its passage. The wording was as if crafted by one of us, and nothing was said about S.744 and the current legislative battle in the U.S. Congress or the maneuvers to have the House vote on the Senate version filled with anti-labor provisions.”
Ron Gochez, a member of United Teachers of Los Angeles and of Union del Barrio put it this way: “S.744 is anti-worker, anti-union, and inhumane. How can the AFL-CIO support the militarization of the border that has already claimed over 10,000 lives in the last 15 years? … The majority of our union brothers and sisters are well-intentioned and do support a real immigration reform, but they are being misled by the national union leadership, which is obviously loyal to the party line of the Democratic Party.”
S.744 and “Guest-Worker” Programs
Clearly, mention of S.744 in the convention resolution would have generated a heated, and necessary, floor debate. Convention delegates would have been able to discuss whether the provisions included in the Senate legislation to get labor’s support — for example, the “improvement” of the “guest-worker” programs — were real or whether they were simple window-dressing. They could have discussed whether the attempts by the AFL-CIO to fix the bill through such provisions as the POWER Act, the “Hoffman Plastics fix,” or the inclusion of due-process under E-Verify in any way changed the pro-corporate character of the Senate bill.
Take the issue of “guest-worker” programs, for example. In her answer to the challenge by Sacramento LCLAA Vice President Al Rojas and other labor activists who approached her following the convention press conference, Maria Elena Durazo insisted that “S.744 is not an expansion of the ‘guest-worker’ programs; it’s the exact opposite!” She added, “S.744 gives visas to ‘guest workers’ that allows portability from job to job; it also puts them on the track for a path to citizenship.”
Is this true? No, it’s not.
Point 1: S.744 expands “guest-worker” visas — through a new “W” visa — to all service industries, not just farm labor. Many more workers will be covered by this program than by the current H2A visas.
Point 2: To make the “guest-worker” programs more palatable, the architects of S.744 (the union officialdom, the Chamber of Commerce, and the “Gang of 8” Senators — four Democrats and four Republicans) added a clause allowing “guest workers” to move from one employer to another. Hence the word “portability.”
But how “portable” is it when a “guest worker” is dissatisfied with a first employer and seeks out employment elsewhere, only to be blacklisted. Without any legal or labor rights, to whom can this worker turn to seek redress of grievance? No one!
Point 3: Lastly, how much of a “path to citizenship” is it when a “guest worker” seeking a new employer is out of work for any protracted period of time? Under the onerous provisions established in S.744, any prolonged break in employment could mean forfeiting one’s right to remain in line for citizenship papers, followed by deportation. (2)
But all this is really besides the point; the fact is that labor should not be supporting “guest-worker” programs to begin with!
The farm growers — with the backing of the Chamber of Commerce — claim that there is a labor shortage in their industry, which is why they need low-paid temporary workers from abroad. The hotel and restaurant industry has followed suit with the same claim. But this is a bold-face lie. Today the unemployment rate in Delano, Calif., birthplace of the United Farm Workers of America, is 30%. in the Salinas Valley region of California, known as the “salad bowl,” the unemployment rate hovers between 12% and 22%. Across the country, there are 27 million unemployed and under-employed workers yearning to find a job.
The growers claim that workers here are not willing to take these low-paying and haza
rdous jobs. There’s a reason for this. According to the Indigenous Farm Worker Survey, a third of the workers surveyed still get paid less than minimum wage. Many are poisoned with pesticides, suffer from heat exhaustion, and work in illegal conditions. (3) It is understandable why people may not want to toil under conditions that kill dozens of farm workers every year.
The fact is that no one should be working in such inhumane conditions. Another fact is that the large pool of the unemployed would work in these various sectors of industry, commerce and agriculture if wages and working conditions were decent. So what is the solution?
Labor journalist David Bacon put it best when he wrote,
“Give workers real legal status. Farm workers need a permanent residence visa, not a ‘guest-worker’ visa conditioned on their work status. This would ensure their right to organize without risking deportation. Organization in turn would bring greater equality, stability and recognition of their important contribution. It would bring higher earnings.
“But growers don’t want to raise wages to attract labor. Instead, they want workers on temporary visas, not permanent ones — a steady supply of people who can work, but can’t stay, or who get deported if they become unemployed. This is a repeat of the old, failed Bracero program of the 1940s and 50s, or the current failures of today’s H2A visa program that succeeded it.” (4)
A second-class status for immigrant workers is reprehensible, unjust and anti-labor — whatever the face-lift given to the new “guest-worker” programs. It is shameful that the AFL-CIO leadership has reversed its previous opposition to these programs through its new partnership with the Chamber of Commerce.
Nativo López was on point when he stated, “Ernesto Galarza, César Chavez, Congressman Edward Roybal, and Burt Corona — each of whom in their own right and at their own time fought against the old Bracero programs — are all turning over in the graves.”
Another Sleight of Hand: “Subsuming” Resolution #23
The purposely ambiguous language in Resolution #4, however, was not sufficient to lure the delegates into voting for a resolution that turned its back 180 degrees on the resolutions adopted by the AFL-CIO in 1999. Another piece of bureaucratic maneuvering was necessary.
The convention booklet of “Proposed Resolutions and Constitutional Amendments” actually contained two resolutions on immigration reform: one (Resolution #4) submitted by the AFL-CIO Executive Council, and another (Resolution #23) submitted by the Alameda (Calif.) County Central Labor Council.
The general line of Resolution #23 was in keeping with the 1999 convention resolution and stood in stark opposition to S.744 and the resolution submitted by the Executive Council. Resolution #23 called for “the protection of the right to organize for all workers, the repeal of employer sanctions, and opposition to ‘guest-worker’ programs.” It called for “a path to citizenship not contingent upon border security” — in open contradiction to the CIR principles and S.744.
Resolution #23 also called for “the end of enforcement programs such as Secure Communities and racial and ethnic profiling” and “reject[ed] the use of electronic employment verification systems, such as E-verify, which builds upon the flawed employer sanctions and pushes workers into an underground economy where workplace abuses are prevalent.”
And finally, Resolution #23 called for “immigration reform that will address the root causes of forced migration by reforming our international trade policies to protect workers and families of all nations.”
But rather than allow a democratic discussion of resolutions with two contradictory orientations, Maria Elena Durazo, on behalf of the AFL-CIO leadership, announced that Resolution #23 was now being “subsumed” under Resolution #4.
Most delegates understood this to mean that the federation leadership would incorporate the main points of Resolution #23 into their resolution. In fact, many of the delegates who rose to speak in the discussion under this point, motivated support for Resolution #4 using arguments and points culled from Resolution #23 — that is, in opposition to Resolution #4 and S.744.
This was the case, for example, of Vermont State AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Traven Leyshon, who supported Resolution #4 stating, in part:
“We should be organizing for a humane road-map not contingent on some repugnant border security measures! And insure that any real reform guarantees full labor and workplace rights for all workers. Finally we need to reverse the root causes of forced migration: trade policies that say to our brothers and sisters, ‘starve at home or come here’.”
The AFL-CIO leadership had no intention of adopting any of the language contained in Resolution #23. “Subsuming” was nothing but a ruse to give the impression that language from Resolution #23 would be accepted, while actually killing Resolution #23 and preventing a discussion of its content. (5)
Nativo López of MAPA and Hermandad Mexicana put it this way:
“Delegate after delegate at the AFL-CIO convention rose to speak of the need to fight for immigration reform, integrate the undocumented into the house of labor, and fight for their inclusion and oppose exclusion, and to stop the deportations. One sister delegate broke into tears as she spoke, lauding the courage of the Dreamer youth and their acts of civil disobedience.
“The delegates were clearly duped by the leadership, were poorly educated about the leadership’s real-life position in practice, and did not realize that Resolution #23 had been killed in committee. Resolution #23 being subsumed into Resolution #4 was the death of the former.
“The leadership had to stoop to knavery to get its way and avoid a healthy debate. This type of manipulation is an indication of the internal crisis in the labor movement. Is it any wonder why the percentage of the workforce organized under labor’s house is the lowest since the 1880s, when workers were still fighting for the 8-hour day?”
Al Rojas — one of the early organizers and leaders of the United Farm Workers of America, along with César Chávez, and an officer in Sacramento LCLAA — offered a similar assessment and pointed to the main reason for the labor leadership’s undemocratic functioning and pro-corporate orientation: labor’s continued subordination to the Democratic Party. He stated:
“What the central leaders of the AFL-CIO did with Resolution #23 was deceitful. They manipulated the healthy aspiration of convention delegates and union members to be on the side of their immigrant sisters and brothers into supporting a resolution, and a Senate bill, that were crafted in common with the Chamber of Commerce and the bosses … against immigrant workers and all working people. This position flows from their subordination to the Democratic Party and their deepening, and extremely dangerous, drift toward corporatism.
“Maria Elena Durazo told the convention press conference that labor was proud of its collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce in crafting this so-called immigration reform. [AFL-CIO President Richard] Trumka said the same thing in his opening convention press conference, going so far as to present this collaboration as an example of the kind of ‘labor-management partnerships’ that are needed in many more sectors of our economy.
“But we say ‘No’! Labor’s interests and those of the Chamber of Commerce are diametrically opposed! Labor must act solely in the interests of its members and of the working class. It must break its ties of subordination to the Democratic Party and its partnerships with the bosses!”
Stop the Deportations, Deferred Action for All Undocumented Immigrants!
Despite the duplicity of the top officials of the AFL-CIO, there were many signs of hope and fightback expressed both by the delegates and allies of the labor movement attending the convention.
Because of the bureaucratic shenanigans, the convention vote in support of Resolution #4 was unanimous. But support for anti-immigrant legislation such as that contained in S.744 was anything but unanimous. In fact, most of the delegates and labor allies who spoke on the issue at the convention or during the AFL-CIO’s own press conference put forward views in opposition to S.744 and in support of a truly just and dignified immigration reform.
We have already referred to the delegates who spoke from the convention floor in support of Resolution #4 with arguments taken from Resolution #23. But the same is true of the AFL-CIO’s labor and community partners who were asked to speak at the September 10 early morning press conference.
Bhairavi Desai, a leader of the New York National Taxi Cab Alliance (and now newly elected member of the AFL-CIO national Executive Council), told the press: “We need an immigration reform that is dignified, not one of indentured servitude, one that recognizes that citizenship has already been earned.”
In an interview with Labor Video Project, Sister Desai went a step further, stating that, “the Senate bill [i.e., S.744] is not good enough and is not dignified. … The movement needs to push back to get a better bill.” (6)
Sister Desai is right: We don’t need indentured servitude such as contained in “guest-worker” programs. And, yes, citizenship has already been earned — so there is no need to wait up to 13 years and jump through hoops to gain citizenship!
Neidi Dominguez, the past strategic campaign coordinator of the Los Angeles Car Wash Campaign, also addressed the AFL-CIO press conference, where she stated that “all the 11 million undocumented immigrants, and not just the Dreamers, should get DACA!” — meaning Deferred Action, or citizenship papers. This call for Deferred Action for All Undocumented Immigrants is precisely one that MAPA has been agitating for in the recent period.
But perhaps the most important statement at the press conference came from Tefere Gebre, past executive director of the Orange County (Calif.) Labor Council and newly elected vice president of the AFL-CIO (replacing Arlene Holt Baker in this position).
Brother Gebre stated that no one knows whether Comprehensive Immigration Reform will be approved by this Congress given the “obstructionist role” of many of the Republicans in the House. And he added, “No matter what happens in the Congress, we know this: President Obama could use his authority as president to issue an Executive Order to halt all deportations today!”
CIR Implodes in the Congress, Opening for Broad, United Front Campaign
This is absolutely true. In fact, Comprehensive Immigration Reform now appears all but dead for this year. House Democrat Luis Gutierrez, one of the main promoters on CIR, told the Washington Post on September 20 that the House CIR bill crafted by a “Group of 7” legislators “never got the support of the GOP leadership.” He continued, “I don’t believe we’re going to produce a bill anytime soon.”
The Republican House leadership, under pressure from its Tea Party wing, opposed the proposed bill on the grounds that even a 13-year path to citizenship with its myriad hurdles and impossible demands is tantamount to “amnesty” for the so-called “illegals.” They vowed to support only the border security and employer sanctions provisions of the bill.
Even though Gutierrez and the House Democrats made even more concessions to the Republicans than the Democrats did in the Senate, their CIR proposal was still unacceptable to the GOP leadership. (The House CIR bill required that “undocumented immigrants would have to admit that they broke the law,” and, as such, even more onerous conditions were placed on them during a “15-year probationary period.”)
Any hope of salvaging a deal over CIR in the House appeared doomed to fail when two Texas Republicans, Representatives Sam Johnson and John Carter, announced they were leaving the “Group of 7” because “President Obama has not enforced current law” (a reference to Obama’s decision “to suspend deportations of hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought illegally to this country as children”), and because they did not believe that the President would enforce new immigration law.
In a word, the entire CIR framework imploded.
At the 11th hour, House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-SF) announced Sept. 24 her intention to introduce in the House — possibly by Oct. 5, a day slated for national actions in support of Comprehensive Immigration Reform — a look-alike S.744 legislation (minus the “border surge” language added at the last minute to S.744), combined with a bipartisan border-security bill that was adopted unanimously by the House Homeland Security Committee.
In the face of the failure after many months to produce a compromise bill in the House, Pelosi’s effort appears to be mainly about political theatrics and finger-pointing: demonstrating the Democrats’ commitment to CIR and blaming the Republicans for their obstinate opposition. Pelosi’s legislation is being introduced with no bipartisan façade and has been pronounced as dead-on-arrival by key Republican leaders.
Given this impasse in the Congress and the political void it has created, and given the huge anger from below over the more than 400,000 yearly deportations under Obama, far more than under George W. Bush, the top officials of the trade union movement realize that something must be done to address this untenable situation.
Ana Avedaño, director of immigration and community action at the AFL-CIO, put it this way in a press statement published by Associated Press on Sept. 19. “If Congress doesn’t move, the President has a duty to act,” she said. “Just because the Republicans have buried their heads in the sand doesn’t mean that immigrant communities aren’t feeling the sting of constant deportations.”
The statements by Brother Gebre and now Ana Avedaño provide a big opening to build broad-based, united-front coalitions and actions, with labor playing a leadership role, to demand of Obama: Stop the Deportations Now! Deferred Action for All Undocumented Immigrants!
Labor and immigrant rights’ activists need to press the AFL-CIO leadership to match deeds with words. We cannot allow these calls on Obama to remain just lip service, or at best an occasional press release. We need to make this a nationwide call to action!
It will be an uphill battle, but we can prevail.
Obama and the White House rejected the call by labor and immigrant rights’ groups to unilaterally stop deportations and extend Deferred Action to the millions awaiting legalization. White House spokesperson Bobby Whithorne told a press conference on Sept. 19 that, “The President will not take any further steps. That’s it. Full stop. The only way to bring 11 million undocumented individuals out of the shadow economy is for Congress to pass common-sense reform with an earned path to citizenship.”
The very next day Obama told Telemundo that such an executive action [for Deferred Action] was “not an option.”
But as Gabriel Camacho, an organizer with the Campaign for a Humane Immigration Policy (CHIP), noted in a commentary on Sept. 20, what Obama does or does not do can change very quickly depending on political circumstances and, above all, on what masses of people are able to do in the streets to press for their demands.
“The second-term president said that he does not have the authority to grant Deferred Action, nor to stop the deportations,” Camacho stated. “But this is the same president who miraculously discovered that he had the authority to grant temporary legal status to undocumented youth under DACA during his re-election campaign.”
And Camacho concluded:
“As long as legislative advocacy is framed on one end, on how to get Republican votes, and on the other end, on how do we curry favor with the Democratic Party, humane immigration reform will never be achieved. As in every successful social movement, the most affected must lead the struggle — not the Beltway experts and strategists.”
Join Us in Building the United Front For Justice and Dignity!
On Saturday, September 7, one day before the opening of the AFL-CIO convention, more than 100 labor and community activists met at the hall of United Teachers of Los Angeles at an Immigrant Rights Convention convened by the United Front for Justice and Dignity. The activists represented 40 different worker-based and community-based organizations.
The purpose of the convention was two-fold: to adopt a Platform of the United Front, amending a Draft that was submitted by the core organizers of the convention, and to lay out a perspective for intervening in the AFL-CIO convention and influencing the delegates to support genuine immigration reform, not the anti-immigrant S.744.
A truly passionate and democratic discussion took place over one day of deliberations. The convention participants adopted a final Platform and a Model Resolution to be distributed widely to the AFL-CIO convention delegates [see Model Resolution for a Just Immigration Reform below], and they discussed proposals for addressing the delegates to the AFL-CIO Convention. (7)
On September 8, the AFL-CIO leadership held a day-long Diversity Conference as the first event of its convention activities. Supporters of the United Front for Justice and Dignity were out in force at the Diversity Conference to express their opposition to S.744 and their support for the planks in their Platform. They also urged the conference participants and convention delegates to support Resolution # 23, the immigration reform resolution submitted by the Alameda County Central Labor Council.
Two supporters of the United Front, Elliot Gabriel and Marc Rich, addressed the Diversity Conference plenary session, receiving warm applause from the approximately 800 labor and community activists who were present.
Elliott Gabriel, an organizer with the Colectivo Todo el Poder al Pueblo, reported on the United Front for Justice and Dignity’s Platform proposals discussed at his table, stating:
“The AFL-CIO and its community partners need to fight for an immediate end to raids and deportations, No to the militarization of the borders and our communities, No to new Bracero/Guest Workers Programs (modern indentured servitude). Workers must have the unconditional legal right to organize. Legalization for all.
“We need to fight for a just and humane immigration reform that eliminates the terror and anxiety in our communities, respects and protects the human rights of undocumented workers, and eliminates the injustices our families face. Support Resolution 23!”
For his part, Marc Rich, a retired teacher and former delegate to the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, reported on the newspaper headline for the near future that his table was asked to create. He stated: “Entire Labor Movement, Led by the AFL-CIO, Proclaims Its Independence from Corporate Influence over Immigration Policy. As a Result, Former Undocumented Workers Work Freely with Union Protection Throughout the U.S.!”:
At the end of the Diversity Conference, as the participants were leaving the hall, supporters of the United Front unfurled their banners in opposition to “guest-worker” programs, employer sanctions, border militarization, and deportations. They also chanted, “Support Resolution #23, For Justice and Dignity!”
Supporters of the United Front for Justice and Dignity who participated in the Diversity Conference were automatically invited as guests at the AFL-CIO convention, where they distributed thousands of leaflets to the delegates urging a vote for the positions contained in Resolution #23. They even even put together a last-minute banner urging support for Resolution #23.
Needless to say, United Front for Justice and Dignity activists were sorely disappointed with the shameful role of the AFL-CIO leadership and the outcome of the debate. But they also realized that despite the bureaucratic maneuvers, the positions they had adopted at their Immigrant Rights Convention on September 7 had received a very positive response from the AFL-CIO convention delegates and from labor’s community allies. And they understood the huge contradictions and crisis in the house of labor that opened new opportunities for united front work around the demand to stop all deportations today.
Strengthened by this resolve, supporters of the United Front for Justice and Dignity will be holding public forums across California and beyond to present their platform and to build a truly powerful and independent labor-community movement to press for the rights of all immigrant workers, documented and undocumented. In the coming weeks and months, they will be focused on building united-front coalitions and mass actions to demand that Obama use his executive authority to take action on behalf of the undocumented immigrants.
“Because Comprehensive Immigration Reform is now on its death bed,” stated Ron Gochez of Union del Barrio, “we in the United Front for Justice and Dignity call on the AFL-CIO, in particular, to join us in pressuring President Obama to immediately stop all deportations until there is an immigration reform. President Obama cannot continue to stand idle while millions of workers are being deported under his administration. Obama can blame the Republicans for stalling immigration reform, but he cannot blame them for the record number of deportations. We call on President Obama to stop the deportations and to grant Differed Action to all undocumented workers until there is a true immigration reform in this country that provides citizenship for all working-class people.”
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(1) See video footage taken by Labor Video Project of the challenge by Al Rojas, vice president of the Sacramento chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), and the reply by Maria Elena Durazo on this question. The link is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJBnEiF-6fs .
(2) This provision, in fact, applies to all undocumented immigrants seeking citizenship status. Under S.744, according to a summary of the bill done by the Dignity Campaign, “[a] single person would have to make $14,362 to keep their provisional status, so even losing a few weeks a year could make them ineligible, or force them to work excessive hours to maintain this salary. Getting fired would be disastrous, making joining unions or advocating for rights extremely risky. And of course, millions of single parents supporting children, clearly wouldn’t qualify, since a family of four would have to keep an income of $29,437 to maintain status. That’s more than two full-time minimum wage jobs.” (source: Dignity Campaign Response to Senate Immigration Reform Bill – S.744)
(3) Source: “A New Bracero Program Will Hurt Farm Workers,” by labor journalist David Bacon, New American Media, September 16, 2013
(4) David Bacon, Ibid.
(5) If anyone were to doubt the nefarious role of “subsuming,” there is a precedent that sheds further light on this matter. On June 10, the San Francisco Labor Council adopted a resolution on Building an Independent Labor Movement that it submitted for a vote and discussion at the 2013 AFL-CIO convention.
This resolution warned that “labor has been diverted from the struggle for an independent labor movement by the countless calls for ‘shared sacrifice’ promoted by the employers and politicians in their service. Having accepted the framework of ‘shared sacrifice’ has led labor to water down our demands and make compromises that have impeded us from mounting a powerful independent fightback movement, in alliance with our community partners, capable of rolling back the anti-worker assault and wresting concessions from the corporate class.”
The resolution went on to urge the building of “an independent labor movement … [that] never subordinates the interests and needs of the working class to the dictates of politicians of either major party, as these politicians all too often defer to the corporate class.”
The S.F. Labor Council was never printed in the Resolutions booklet. Council delegates were told that the convention Resolutions Committee had “subsumed” their resolution into the main resolutions presented by the Executive Council to the convention. But not a trace of the S.F. Labor Council resolution was contained in any of the AFL-CIO Executive Council resolutions. By “subsuming” this resolution, the Resolutions Committee had, in fact, killed it. There was to be no talk at the convention of labor having to break its ties of subordination to the Democratic Party.
(6) The interview is contained in the same LVP link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJBnEiF-6fs
(7) For more information about the Platform of the United Front for Justice and Dignity, go to: www.todopoderalpueblo.org/united-front/ .
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Model Resolution on Immigration Reform
(adopted by the United Front For Justice and Dignity at its Convention on September 7 in Los Angeles, for submission to the delegates attending the 2013 National Convention of the AFL-CIO; more than 1,000 copies of this Model Resolution were distributed to the delegates)
There are 11 million undocumented immigrants contributing to the American economy and community that are being denied basic rights and protections;
Anti-immigrant programs such as Secure Communities (S-COMM), E-Verify and I-9 audits have resulted in the deportations of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants and continue to incite fear and terror in immigrant communities;
The rate of deportations is at a record high, with 34,000 individuals being deported monthly, tragically separating thousands of families;
Family unity has been threatened by a broken immigration system that imposes unnecessary wait times for sponsorships, leaving millions awaiting reunification for decades;
Immigration reform must create a fair process respecting human dignity and family unity, including protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and questioning (LGBTIQ) families;
Working people are strongest when working together, and the labor movement is strongest when it is open to all workers, regardless of where they come from;
We deny that migrants are responsible for the “strain” on jobs and services. These are scarce not because of migration, but because the corporations and politicians in their service are decimating them as part of making the majority pay for the crisis, to boost profits and the wealth of the rich;
Although we are not at war with Mexico or Canada, militarizing the borders has led to thousands of deaths and widespread violations of human rights;
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), and other similar “free trade” agreements and structural adjustment policies and other U.S.-government-backed “economic reforms” continue to boost corporate profits while creating massive poverty in countries like Mexico, El Salvador and others, and as a result, millions of workers and farmers are displaced and have no alternative but to migrate in search of work, and therefore will continue to come to the United States to work, join our unions and participate in our organizing drives;
Temporary worker programs do not reflect the values and interests of U.S. workers; they reflect the policy objectives of Big Business and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The largest corporations and employer groups in the United States — including WalMart, Hyatt, Smithfield, the Associated Building Contractors, Microsoft and others — seek to force this flow of migrants to come to the United States only through guest worker programs, where the low wages, lack of rights, and dangerous conditions are described as “Close to Slavery” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, while these corporations try to restrict and end family-based immigration; and
We as a labor movement have previously called for inclusive reform of our immigration laws, and adopted a position that demands a halt to deportations, amnesty/legalization for all undocumented workers, the strengthening of family reunification as the basis of immigration policy, protection of the right to organize for all workers, the repeal of employer sanctions, opposition to guest worker programs, the demilitarization of our borders, and “fair trade” policies that prevent the massive destruction of jobs and communities south of the border contained in the current “free trade” agreements.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT:
The 2013 National Convention of the AFL-CIO stands united with the community to call on Congress to create a rapid and inclusive way for 11 million undocumented immigrants to gain legal status and citizenship — not contingent upon border security measures or going to the “back of the line” of prospective immigrants. Such a swift legalization process must lead to a green card, without requiring proof of continuous employment and without excluding people based on minor criminal records or based on learning English.
The 2013 National Convention of the AFL-CIO supports family reunification by increasing legal avenues for loved ones to reunite with each other by eliminating the backlog in family reunification petitions and ensuring that families can petition for relatives in the future without the long waits, and opposes eliminating any family preference category.
The 2013 National Convention of the AFL-CIO calls on Congress to ensure due process and protections at every level of immigration and to reinstate judicial review;
The 2013 National Convention of the AFL-CIO stands united with the community to call on Congress to put an immediate halt to all deportations and all workplace enforcement actions. Enforcement programs such as Secure Communities, racial and ethnic profiling, and the use of detention, including mandatory and prolonged detention, should be ended. Mandatory E-Verify and I-9 audits should also be ended, as they build upon the flawed employer sanctions framework and push workers into an underground economy where workplace abuses are prevalent;
The 2013 National Convention of the AFL-CIO supports a reform on border enforcement based on demilitarizing the border and restoring full civil and human rights in border communities. Immigration laws should be enforced by the federal government, not by local law enforcement officers, and the policies leading to the detention and deportation of hundreds of thousands of people annually, overwhelmingly workers and their families, much be changed;
The 2013 National Convention of the AFL-CIO calls upon Congress to provide immigrants with equal access to healthcare and other public benefits;
The 2013 National Convention of the AFL-CIO calls on Congress to ensure full labor and workplace rights and protections for all workers regardless of immigration status, including the right to organize and enforce worker protections without retaliation;
The 2013 National Convention of the AFL-CIO calls on Congress to remove from any immigration reform legislation all guest worker provisions and programs, as these only contribute to creating a second class of workers and lowering wages and working conditions for all workers. Permanent residence visas should be made available for people who want to come to the U.S. to work;
The 2013 National Convention of the AFL-CIO calls for a just immigration reform that addresses the root causes of migration, and therefore calls for fundamental changes to NAFTA, CAFTA and all “free trade” agreements; all provisions causing poverty and unemployment that force people to migrate to survive must be scrapped, and no new such agreements, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, should be signed;
The 2013 National Convention of the AFL-CIO will communicate this position with the State and National Congressional delegates.