A project of the Center for Community Change

Immigration and Unions

derechos-trabajadoresYesterday, the New York Times featured a great editorial on exactly why last week’s endorsement of Immigration Reform by the nation’s two largest labor unions makes sense. Lots of sense.

The very idea that unions would endorse legalizing illegal immigrants, as the country’s two big labor federations did this month, strikes some as absurd. Americans have a hard enough time competing with cheap foreign labor. Why undercut them within our own borders? Especially with millions of citizens losing their jobs?

I’m no stranger to these types of questions and arguments. I get plenty of folks here on the blog who shout that the approach I push will cost American citizens their jobs. However, its nice to have somebody like the New York Times back up my argument that enforcing workers’ rights across the board (by bringing undocumented workers out of the shadows) will help raise wages and working conditions for everyone. Which, in turn, helps our ailing economy.

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.

Immigration reform is an integral part of our economic recovery. Unions, who represent the TRUE American workers, understand that, the administration understands that and the American public understands that. Now, we must make sure Congress does too

Also, click here to share the editorial with your friends and colleagues. This is big news, we need to make sure folks know.

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