AFL-CIO Supports Assisting Immigrant Workers to Become Citizens and Exercise Their Workplace Rights

09/10/2013 Kenneth Quinnell

 AFL-CIO Supports Assisting Immigrant Workers to Become Citizens and Exercise Their Workplace Rights

Today, the AFL-CIO reaffirmed its commitment to a comprehensive immigration policy that respects workers’ rights, including a road map to citizenship. Delegates at the AFL-CIO Convention called for an immigration policy that protects U.S. workers, reduces exploitation of immigrant workers and reduces employers’ incentive to hire undocumented workers rather than U.S. workers. Such a policy, the convention resolution states, will increase shared prosperity, improve productivity and quality, limit wage competition, strengthen labor standards and collective bargaining rights, protect the health and safety of workers and provide a social safety net and quality education and training for working families.

Delegates, guests and community allies at the convention took out their phones and called the House, demanding a vote on immigration reform now. Call 1-888-563-8430 to join the action. 

Specifically, the AFL-CIO supports a framework for immigration policy with five key components:

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  • (1) An independent governmental body to assess and manage future flows, based on labor market shortages that are determined on the basis of actual need.
  • (2) A secure and effective worker authorization mechanism.
  • (3) Rational operational control of the border.
  • (4) A road map to citizenship for the current undocumented population.
  • (5) Improvement, not expansion, of temporary worker programs, limited to temporary or seasonal, not permanent, jobs.

In support of these goals, the AFL-CIO plans to use its Organizing Institute to help immigrant workers who want to have union representation in their workplace. The institute will recruit and train organizers from the immigrant community and will partner with allies to provide citizenship and workers’ rights instruction. State federations and central labor councils will be recruited to help achieve these goals, and Union Privilege will assist with outreach to immigrant communities and will provide low-interest loans for application and processing fees.

The AFL-CIO continues to call on the Obama administration to stop deportations, which are chilling workers’ rights and tearing families apart.

Delegates in the resolution text made it clear why working families support a road map to citizenship:

Every day, more than 11 million aspiring citizens contribute to our communities, our economy and our country—yet they are effectively not covered by our fundamental labor law and are denied essential rights in our society.

A strong and vibrant democracy cannot function unless all men and women living and working within its borders, regardless of their skin color or their place of birth, can participate meaningfully in the political process with full rights and equal protections.

The union movement recognizes that the way we treat aspiring citizens reflects our commitment to democracy and the values that define us.

Working people are strongest when no group of workers is exploited, and the union movement is strongest when it is open to all workers regardless of where they were born.

Read the full resolution.

Author: AFGE Local 704

Representing over 900 bargaining unit employees working at the U.S. EPA Region 5 Offices in Chicago, Ann Arbor, MI and Westlake, OH.

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