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  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Dec 2004
    Oak Island, North Mexolina

    AFL-CIO to work with day laborers group

    AFL-CIO to work with day laborers group
    By PETER PRENGAMAN, Associated Press Writer
    30 minutes ago

    LOS ANGELES - The nation's largest federation of unions agreed Wednesday to work with a network of immigrant day laborers to improve wages and working conditions for those who solicit work from street corners across America.

    The agreement between the AFL-CIO and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, formally adopted in Chicago, is a sign of day laborers' growing role in the U.S. economy.

    Experts also said it reflects the need for unions to expand to regain clout.

    The agreement does not clear the way for day laborers to become union members, but both sides said it could be a step in that direction.

    The agreement allows the network's 40 nationwide centers to affiliate with the federation and receive representation on local labor councils.

    Under the plan, the AFL-CIO and network will pursue minimum wage campaigns, safety at construction sites and legislation to criminalize employers who stiff day laborers.

    The groups will also work toward reform that includes amnesty for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States.

    "This is huge for day laborers," said Abel Valenzuela, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and co-author of the first national study of day laborers released in January.

    "The AFL-CIO can hire staff to help with organizing, provide more legal services and lobby on behalf of day laborers," he said.

    Among other things, the study found there are about 117,000 day laborers nationwide, and the top employers are homeowners.

    The agreement was sharply criticized by anti-illegal immigration groups, who accused the federation of selling out its 53 unions for the hope of new membership.

    "The unions mistakenly believe it's a source of new members," said Joseph Turner of Save Our State, which has staged dozens of protests at day labor sites across Southern California. "They will undercut their memberships by bringing in illegal aliens."

    The agreement comes as day laborers, a majority of whom are Hispanic and undocumented, take steps to become more organized.

    At a large center in downtown Los Angeles, day laborers said they hoped the agreement would lead to unionization. The center has set the minimum hourly pay for its workers at $8. Skilled workers command up to $15 an hour.

    "We've all had employers not pay us, and seen workers get hurt at jobs," said Francisco Jimenez, 35, an illegal immigrant from Mexico.

    For years, unions have experienced diminishing numbers and clout because of globalization, automation and the transition from an industrial-based economy to one that is service-driven.

    Some members see undocumented workers as a vast untapped pool of potential new members. Others, however, think they drag down wages and thwart organizing efforts.

    Unions were often at odds while Congress debated immigration reform earlier this year, with some groups arguing against guest worker programs and amnesty for illegal immigrants.

    The dissension was evident last year when a handful of unions, including the Service Employees International Union, broke from the AFL-CIO in an effort to forge a new direction for organized labor.

    The breakaway unions complained that the AFL-CIO focused too much on electoral politics and not enough on organizing more people, including immigrant workers.

    "The agreement is a strategic move for the AFL-CIO," Valenzuela said. "They are thinking about how to maintain and increase their ranks."

    The day labor network also has much to gain.

    Originally a ragtag group of centers in 2001, the network is emerging as a powerful force for organizing day laborers. Its 40 member sites are used by thousands of workers each day.

    Among other things, the sites provide English classes and workshops on labor rights. All laborers and employers are registered in data bases, and workers often vote on center decisions involving wages and operations.

    Day laborers have also become a target of anti-illegal immigration groups who have staged protests at day labor sites, told immigration officials about employers who hire illegals, and sued cities that build day labor centers.

    "We need as many alliances as we can to fight back," said Pablo Alvarado, director of the day labor network.

    Whether the agreement leads to full unionization will depend on how aggressively the AFL-CIO focuses on day labor issues, and how day laborers respond to organization efforts, said Janice Fine, a labor professor at Rutgers University.

    "A union could feel like, 'great, it's just more mouths to feed,'" if that mutual relationship doesn't develop, Fine said.

    Day laborers in Los Angeles said their interest will depend on whether unions help them get full-time jobs and become legal residents.

    Cesar Ramirez, 48, an illegal immigrant, said he had been part of a plumbers union in Mexico and would like to join one in this country for health benefits and work protection.

    "But without (residency) papers I don't see it happening," he said. ... or_afl_cio
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  2. #2
    Senior Member AlturaCt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Roanoke, VA
    These a**holes are betting on the wrong horse. Hope they don't think we will forget.
    [b]Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder.
    - Arnold J. Toynbee

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Oak Island, North Mexolina
    Quote Originally Posted by AlturaCt
    These a**holes are betting on the wrong horse. Hope they don't think we will forget.
    you got it, Amen
    Join our efforts to Secure America's Borders and End Illegal Immigration by Joining ALIPAC's E-Mail Alerts network (CLICK HERE)

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