NYT`s Steven Greenhouse Reports “Big Squeeze” On American Workers—But Barely Mentions Immigration

I recently attended the

book talk
given by New York Times labor

Steven Greenhouse
him mail
] at the

Berkeley Labor Center
. His new book, The Big Squeeze,
is a
remarkably well-researched look at how American workers
have rapidly lost ground in terms of wages,


working conditions


I sat in the front of the crowded room and raised my
hand when Q&A started. My question was this: how can the
elites of the New York Times

to some degree the

outsourcing of America`s jobs
but support open
borders uncritically—given that the results are the same
to workers?

Greenhouse looked uncomfortable. He tried to discount
the premise of the question by saying that

Times people

don`t really
support open borders.

Oh please! The

New York Times
is the biggest




in America!

While Greenhouse signed my copy of his book, I
continued in the same vein, saying that

union leaders
were dreaming if they thought they

could improve the lot of labor

welcoming the world
and trying to organize
deportable workers.

Greenhouse opened the book to the section where he
had written about the

illegal immigrant workforce
at the

Smithfield Foods
, a

in North Carolina that had

many unlawful workers

I went away and read the book,

There is indeed a whole chapter called "The Lowest
, devoted to

foreign workers
and their

, along with the trouble their presence
brings to the American labor landscape. He leaves no
doubt about the place that illegal workers have in the
larger scheme of exploitation.

"Illegal immigrants have quietly
undermined the nation`s workplace standards not only
because they are often willing to work for less but
because they tolerate conditions Americans wouldn`t,

illegal and dangerous ones
, such as when they
work—and die—in trenches, on

, or on farms that fail to take the

most basic safety protections
(pg. 225

Greenhouse actually explains that
citizens are replaced by foreign workers so the employer
can save money:

times, employers have deliberately used illegal
immigrants to undermine native-born workers. The
janitorial industry in Los Angeles is a case in point.
In the early 1980s, most office-building
janitors in Los Angeles
were native-born and
unionized, their pay averaging twelve dollars an hour.
But building owners were able to break the union by
switching to lower-cost,

non-union cleaning contractors

relied on illegal immigrants
pouring into Los
Angeles. By the early 1990s, janitors` wages in Los
Angeles had plunged to seven dollars an hour."

And he really shines is in his
compassionate and detailed portrayals of individual
workers who have been shamefully treated by management.
One example: Myra Bronstein, a senior quality assurance
engineer for Watchmark-Comnitel, a company

producing cell phone software near Seattle.
She was

brusquely informed
along with over a dozen
co-workers that their jobs had been outsourced and that
they would be required to train their replacements in
order to receive a severance package.

the next month, Myra strived to retain her composure as
she trained two Indians at once. `They didn`t
acknowledge what was going on, that we had to do
something upsetting," she said. "It was the most
difficult situation in the world."

“Soon Myra and the other
Americans began calling themselves `The Castaways` and
`Dead Men Working.` She was told that the Indians would
earn $5,000 a year; she had earned $80,000."

But in The Big Squeeze,
Greenhouse is trying to hold on to contradictory ideas.
He apparently believes that workers can be helped
without addressing excessive immigration. His concluding
solutions chapter, "Lifting All Boats", makes no
mention of reducing the labor supply. He actually notes
on page 291: "When the

labor market was tight
from 1995 to 2000, real wages
rose at their fastest pace in three decades"
. But he
nowhere explores how Washington could easily reduce the
flow of workers now.

Instead, Greenhouse believes that better union
representation, along with selective government
interventions like raising the minimum wage, can do the

It`s an

attitude that cripples liberal labor reformers
because it takes off the table the most promising policy
the immigration floodgates

You can`t raise wages that way.

Above all, this applies to unions. Of all the

interest groups
that have gone over to the

open-borders Dark Side
, the most tragic loss is

organized labor.
Union defenders of the

American worker
were once among the most stalwart
voices against business interests who want to drive

labor costs
to zero.

More than a century ago, leaders like

Samuel Gompers

the connection
between excessive immigration and the
inability of workers to organize for reasonable wages

safe, humane conditions
. More recently,

Cesar Chavez

border control
as a way to keep out the thousands of

Mexican strikebreakers
who threatened
his efforts
to unionize farmworkers in California.

But today,

labor unions

drunk the globalization Kool-Aid
. They believe they
can make the new game work for them. They can`t, because
the corporations have recreated the playing field to
suit the aims of global business. But unions keep
tap-dancing to the

One-Worlder tune

Why did unions completely reverse their historical
position—from being immigration restrictionist to
permissive? Did union elites really think they

could increase their pathetic market share
(now just
7.5 percent in the private sector) with a strategy that
is wholly negative toward citizen workers?

Interviewed by

Pat Buchanan
in 2004,

Ralph Nader
opined that unions were looking for a
new membership because of their failure with the old

RN: …The AFL-CIO has no
objection to [illegal immigration] because they think
they can organize the illegal workers—

PB: They switched.

RN: –because they have been so inept at
organizing other workers. There is hardly a more complex
issue, except on the outside of the issue, the foreign
policy, the


PB: I was going to ask you about NAFTA and the


RN: Sovereignty shredding, you know. The
decisions are

now in Geneva,
bypassing our courts, our regulatory
agencies, our legislatures. "

Nader: Conservatively Speaking
June 21, 2004.]

Unions have chosen to jettison
American citizens in order to

organize illegal alien workers
—a decision that won`t
help the low opinion the public already has of the labor
movement. A

2002 Harris poll
found that only 30 percent of those
surveyed would generally trust a trade union leader, a
rating below even members of Congress.

And what`s not to dislike about these turncoats?
Americans have no rights except those derived through
the means of national sovereignty. And unions are now
part of the evil array bent on destroying the

It`s hard to see today`s anti-border, anti-American
unions as other than an enemy.

What would Samuel Gompers have thought
of his
heirs—who have reversed the traditional union aim of
restricting immigration and now

advocate amnesty
for millions of lawbreaking


decades of struggle
for the benefit of American
workers have been shredded into oblivion.

Brenda Walker (email
her) lives in Northern California and publishes two


. She once helped organize
a new union for a small bakery in Berkeley.