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AFL-CIO Not Split Enough On Immigration
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July 27, 2005, 05:34 PM
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The AFL-CIO convention opened yesterday in Chicago.

Organized labor in the US has been facing decades of declining membership and influence. In the 50s and 60s, about 30% of all private sector employees were unionized. Change to Win Coalition.

My view: one reason for the decline in organized labor’s appeal-particularly among younger potential members- is that unlike historic leaders like Asa P Randolph and Cesar Chavez, these contemporary folks aren`t yet addressing immigration-and are in fact actively working to disenfranchise working Americans. The AFL-CIO is actually endorsing the Kennedy-MeCain proposal to increase immigration to the US dramatically which would decimate wages of American workers. Increased immigration exactly correlates with he decline of unionism.

Lest you think that the AFL-CIO breakup might indicate some sanity in this direction, look at the web page of one of the breakaway unions, the SEIU [Service Employees International Union], led by Andrew Stern.They are also endorsing the Kennedy-McCain guest worker expansion proposal—as is the hotel and garment workers’ union Unite Here. Both of these unions are heavily immigrant, but run by oligarchic leaderships calloused towards the effects of uncontrolled immigration.

But Sweeney said in a letter addressed to [UNITE HERE`s] Wilhelm that the UNITE HERE official is misrepresenting the work of the committee. Sweeney said UNITE HERE`s positions on immigration — including its support for a guest-worker program — made the work of supporting immigration efforts more difficult. He also noted that UNITE HERE has dissented from most unions on immigration legislation proposed by U.S. Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.

"Two of the most active and vocal unions on the Immigration Committee LIUNA (Laborers) and UFCW, strongly disagreed with the UNITE HERE position of abandoning prevailing wage standards and allowing for a significantly expanded temporary worker program without effective labor protections," Sweeney wrote. "The Teamsters also objected to the UNITE HERE-backed construct of a guest worker program.[Wilhelm: AFL-CIO `bureaucratic,` `disconnected` from workers By Alana Roberts LAS VEGAS SUN, July 21, 2005]

The Change to Win leadership is obviously divided on the issue of immigration-but seems leaning towards the Open Borders side. The division of the between the AFL-CIO and Change to Win seems to be around issues of

a) outsourcing/trade

b) relative emphasis of local organizing vs. national political action

There’s a widespread idea on the left that trade and outsourcing are what matter-and that immigration is unimportant. The Change to Win folks seem to think their service and home construction jobs are less affected by trade practices. Both sides of this divide are in serious denial of how artificially high trade deficits (driven by financial arrangements that can change rapidly) and immigration are combining to decimate the American middle class.

To address issues like immigration, the American Labor movement may need to be completely rebuilt