Opposition Growing Against Arizona Anti-Immigrant Law
From the courtroom to the basketball court, opposition to Arizona’s anti-immigrant law is growing rapidly across a broad cross-section of Americans. Meanwhile, many of the arguments the law’s supporters are using are beginning to crumble.
First, most economists and those who have researched the issue, say undocumented workers are not taking away jobs from U.S. citizens, a major claim of those who oppose immigration. In a May 13, 2010 article, FactCheck.org cited several experts like Madeline Sumption, policy analyst at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, who says workers “create almost as many” jobs as they occupy, “and maybe more.” In addition, “they buy things, and they make the economy bigger,” she said..
The argument that the law isn’t racist was challenged not only by civil rights groups, but another unlikely group-the conservative Americans for Legal Immigration (ALIPAC). The group pulled out of a planned June 5 rally supporting the law. ALIPAC says it discovered that two of the organizers were knowingly working with racist skin-head neo-Nazi organizations on the rally
The NAACP, along with along with the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), have filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the law. NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said:
The Arizona law is out of step with American values of fairness and equality. It encourages racial profiling and is unconstitutional. African Americans know all-too well the insidious effects of racial profiling,. The government should be preventing police from investigating and detaining people based on color and accent, not mandating it.
AFT President Randi Weingarten adds the law sends the wrong message to children:
The law targeting immigrants is egregious-it legalizes racial profiling, generates fear and perpetuates discrimination. This goes against our fundamental beliefs as a nation, and is the wrong message to be sending to our school children.
One of the most personal and poignant rebukes to the Arizona law came on the basketball court at the Los Angeles Lakers-Phoenix Suns NBA playoff game Monday night in LA. Vanessa Bryant, who is half Latina and wife of Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, was decked out at the game in a T-shirt bearing the words: “Do I Look Illegal?”
Bryant and her children often attend the games, but this is the first time she has used her high-profile presence in this manner, celebrity observers pointed out. Check out Gustavo Arellano’s post and photos of Vanessa Bryant in the T-shirt on OC Weekly Blog here. The Suns players also are protesting the law, wearing jerseys bearing the name “Los Suns” when they play at home.
Meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderón who visited the United States this week, President Obama said the Arizona law is a “misdirected expression of frustration over our broken immigration system” that has “raised concerns in both our countries.”
In an interview prior to his Washington visit, Calderón said the Arizona law “contains elements that are frankly discriminatory, terribly backward.”
At the White House, Calderón added that Mexico will
retain our firm rejection to criminalize migration so that people that work and provide things to this nation will be treated as criminals.
Both presidents agreed that comprehensive immigration reform is long overdue and is in the best interests of the two countries.
Employers Must Post Workers’ Rights Info
A just-published Department of Labor rule ensures that workers employed by contractors and subcontractors to the federal government will now know their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
The new rule requires employers to post notices–where workers can see them–that list their rights, including the right to join unions. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says the new rule will “provide workers with a clear understanding of their rights.”
Trumka says the action by the Obama administration’s Labor Department helps reverse the Bush era approach to workers
which put corporate interests before workers’ rights. Making sure that workers know their rights on the job will reduce harassment, intimidation and fear in the workplace. Informing workers of their rights will improve employee morale and contribute to positive labor-management relations.
The notice employers must post lists employees’ rights under the NLRA to form, join and assist a union and to bargain collectively with their employer; provides examples of unlawful employer and union conduct that interferes with those rights; and indicates how employees can contact the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency that enforces those rights, with questions or complaints.
For more on your rights in the workplace, click here.
Chicago Nurses Vote to Join National Nurses United
Some 1,300 registered nurses at the University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) are the newest members of the National Nurses United (NNU). The UCMC nurses voted last night to join the nation’s largest RN union.
The nurses say their top priorities are critical patient safety changes at the medical center, including improved patient staffing and an end to scheduling practices that undermine patient care conditions.
NNU Co-President Jean Ross says the UCMC nurses “have worked very hard to enhance patient care conditions and secure better standards for patients and nurses,” but faced management resistance. Now,
they will be right at home with RNs very much like them across the country, and will have the collective power of nurses from coast to coast behind them.
One intensive care unit RN at the hospital, says the nurses are concerned about “the future of patient care” at UCMC and a long history of hospital management
ignoring the nurses’ contract and our efforts to promote improved care conditions and professional standards that are necessary to protect our patients and promote the retention of experienced RNs and recruitment of new nurses.
The two key areas on which the RNs will focus are enhanced safe staffing with minimum nurse-to-patient ratios and an end mandatory shift rotation in which nurses are forced to alternate working days and nights. Studies have documented rotating schedules lead to performance deficits from fatigue, sleeplessness, and reduced alertness.
Another RN, says the hospital’s practice of shift rotation has “serious consequences”
for patient safety and can result in medical errors. It is disgraceful that the hospital continues to put patients and nurses at risk. With NNU representation, we are going to bring this practice to an end.
Union Workers Skilled for Clean Energy Jobs
Clean energy manufacturing jobs are the future of the American economy and unions are in the forefront of the movement to make sure these jobs are good jobs.
Union members already have many of the skills in electrical, welding, plumbing and other trades to build clean energy resources that will be needed to move to a green economy.
Speaking at the 2010 “Good Jobs, Green Jobs” National Conference earlier this month,, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said:
Never before has the need been so urgent to produce clean energy, to use energy more efficiently, to prevent climate change and to protect our natural environment.
And not since the Great Depression have so many Americans needed new and better jobs with secure benefits and promising futures-jobs that can’t be off-shored, downsized or downgraded into temporary or part-time positions.
Trumka’s message is echoed in a new video produced by the Blue Green Alliance. The video, which was screened at the Good Jobs, Green Jobs conference, rebuts the argument that creating a clean energy economy will cost good jobs.
The video is part of a series of clips touting the value of green jobs and how the skills used in manufacturing can be transferred to a green economy. In it, a worker says the government should listen to workers who are saying that we need more green jobs:
It’s our government too. They actually work for us. They should listen to us.
See more videos on green jobs, clean energy manufacturing, and the economy here.
The Blue Green Alliance is a partnership of labor and environmental organizations, which include the United Steelworkers (USW), Communications Workers of America CWA, AFT, Utility Workers (UWUA), Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
Wall Street Reform Passes Senate: Conference with House is Chance to Strengthen
Three weeks after more than 15,000 people marched on Wall Street and just days after thousands more marched on K Street demanding Wall Street reform, the Senate last night (59-39) passed legislation to rein-in Wall Street Big Banks’ reckless behavior that crashed the economy.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says the Senate vote was a “sweet victory” for the “tens of millions of working families who lost jobs, homes and income at the hands of the big Wall Street banks.” He also said it was “reassuring” that
the Senate took this step to protect consumers despite the swarms of finance industry lobbyists who converged on Capitol Hill and outlays of $1.4 million a day to block reform.
Heather Booth, director of Americans for Financial Reform, which worked hard to move reform that would benefit Main Street, says the bill will begin the process of
reining in the unchecked speculation of the casino economy that caused the Great Recession and protecting consumers from fraud and abuse by financial institutions.
The Senate legislation must now be reconciled with a House Wall Street reform bill approved in December. The conference will give lawmakers an opportunity to strengthen the bill, especially, says Trumka,
when it comes to regulating derivatives along with private equity and hedge funds–which function as a huge, unregulated shadow financial system.
Those are areas that the two Democrats who voted against the bill–Sen. Maria Cantwell (Wash.) and Sen. Russ Feingold (Wis.)–say they want to see strengthened. Both say they cast their votes because they wanted to see stronger legislation. In the 59-39 vote, four Republican senators backed the bill–Scott Brown (Mass.), Susan Collins (Maine), Charles Grassley (Iowa) and Olympia Snowe (Maine).
While the House and Senate negotiations offer a chance to improve the legislation, it is also the last chance for the Wall Street lobbyist army to weaken the bill. The financial industry spent more than $1.4 million a day to kill the bill and planst tol keep up the big money blitz, according news reports.
Bloomberg News reports that the financial industry is
holding fundraisers for lawmakers at a rate of almost one every business day this month….At least 20 House and Senate lawmakers have scheduled fundraisers in May targeting the industry or hosted by lobbyists for banks such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Citigroup Inc.
Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, told Bloomberg:
The industry is trying to blunt the impact of Wall Street reform. Their lobbyists will pay tribute in the form of campaign donations.
Booth warns that the big Wall Street banks will fight reform “every step of the way.”
The battle now moves to conference where the big banks will look to weaken or kill the bill behind closed doors. We cannot and will not allow this to happen. And we need to fight the big bank interests to strengthen the bill in conference.
U.S. Trade Reps in China Need to Ask: What Will Make America Strong?
When U.S. trade reps meet with their counterparts in China next week for the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, they should keep in mind this frightening fact: Last year, the biggest single U.S. export to China was $7.6 billion of paper and scrap metal, while China’s number one export to the United States was $46 billion of computer equipment.
In short, says Economic Strategy Institute founder Clyde Prestowitz, the entire wealth-producing basis of the U.S. economy has been eroding over the past 30 years, and unless this nation develops an industrial policy soon, the days of family-supporting U.S. jobs are gone.
Prestowitz, who served as principal trade negotiator for the Reagan administration, gave a timely presentation here at the AFL-CIO this week on his new book, “The Betrayal of American Prosperity: Free Market Delusions, America’s Decline and How We Must Combat in the Post-Dollar Era.”
He pointed to China’s currency manipulation as a big factor in the trade imbalance between the two countries ($227 billion in 2009), with China suppressing the value of the yuan in relation to the dollar, a practice that decreases the price of China’s exports and increases the cost of American goods imported into China. (The Alliance for American Manufacturing makes it easy to send a message to President Obama and Congress and urge them to stop China’s currency manipulation. Click here.)
But Prestowitz primarily focused on the need for what policymakers clumsily call an “industrial policy” (anyone got any better name we can give it?). He provided a telling example involving Intel to illustrate why our lawmakers need to develop a policy focused on encouraging corporations to stay or re-locate their jobs-producing, research-and-development producing facilities here.
In making its decision to open its newest mircoprocessing plant in China, Prestowitz says Intel was not influenced by the low cost of labor in China, because labor is not a significant factor in building semi-conductors. Intel also understands the quality and production rate will be lower in China. So why is it locating its newest microprocessing plant there and not in the United States?
Investment incentives. Of the $6 billion needed, China’s government is giving Intel $3 billion.
In addition to offering foreign companies deals they can’t refuse, China has a conscious policy of fostering growth among indigenous entrepreneurs, all with the goal of benefiting China. As James McGregor, former chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in the People’s Republic of China writes, China in fact has an array of policies and initiatives
aimed at building “national champion” companies through subsidies and preferential policies while using China’s market power to appropriate foreign technology, tweak it and create Chinese “indigenous innovations” that will come back at us globally.
When U.S. reps go to the table with China, they represent a variety of interests, including specific corporate goals that won’t necessarily benefit the United States. They face their China counterparts who have one unifying aim: making China strong.
When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner travel to Beijing for the Summit, they should remember that between 2001 and 2008, 2.4 million jobs were lost or displaced by growing trade deficits with China alone. And then ask themselves: Does bleeding jobs make the United States strong?
Is the Applesauce King a Greedy Corporate Despot?
Dr. Pepper Snapple (DPS), the food and drink conglomerate that owns Mott’s of applesauce and apple juice fame, made $550 million in profits last year and paid its CEO, Larry Young, $6.5 million in total compensation–double what he earned in 2007. Darn good numbers in the middle of the worst economic down turn in decades.
At the same time Young and DPS are raking in millions, they are ready to drastically cut the wages, pension and health benefits of the 300 full-time workers at Mott’s upstate New York plant, it’s only applesauce plant.
Yesterday, several of those workers from the Retail, Wholesale, Department Store Union/UFCW (RWDSU/) Local 220 confronted Young and the DPS board of directors at the company’s shareholder meeting in Frisco, Texas.
The workers’ contract at the Williamson, N.Y., plant expired April 16 and the company demanded a $1.50 per hour wage cut for all workers, a pension freeze for current employees and elimination of a pension for future employees, decreased employer contributions to the company’s 401(k) retirement plan and increased employee contributions toward health care premiums and co-pays.
The workers overwhelming rejected the contract and now DPS has vowed to implement those cuts starting Sunday. Timothy Budd, who has worked at the plant for 24 years, told Young and the DPS board, “Forcing these cuts on us when DPS made $555 million in profit last year is unacceptable.”
Why do you want to cut the wages and benefits of the very people whose hard work and dedication contribute to the company’s success and help make Mott’s such a successful brand?
In a recent column on Huffington Post RWDSU President Stuart Applebaum wrote:
This is a prime example of corporate America attempting to undermine wage and benefit standards at a time when workers can least afford it. It’s about taking family-sustaining jobs in this country and reducing them to a shell of what they used to be. It’s about making shareholders rich by making a buck off the backs of workers.
The workers at Mott’s have authorized an unfair labor practice strike and the union is continuing to demand the company bargain in good faith to reach a contract. If the walkout takes place, RWDSU plans a campaign to build solidarity among union members and support among the public, including setting up informational pickets at locations throughout the United States and Canada to educate consumers about Mott’s/DPS labor practices.
For more information on the workers’ struggle at Mott’s, click here.
If you want to take action to help Mott’s workers, click here to go to American Rights at Work and a sign a letter to CEO Young urging a fair contract for Mott’s workers.