Nation’s Largest Union Federation Declares “Our Labor Movement Is Latino”

Dolores Huerta holds “HUELGA” (“Strike”) sign above her head. CA, 1965. Credit: A Harvey Richards

In keeping with a 20-year old policy of pushing to legalize and unionize the nation’s illegal immigrants, the nation’s largest union federation, the AFL-CIO, declared on Friday that its ‘labor movement is Latino.’

Amid the national debate over the future of immigration, including the current debate over “DACA,” the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)–the nation’s largest union federation, which is comprised of 56 national and international labor unions–declared on Friday that “our labor movement is Latino.”

As part of its Friday email to subscribers, the AFL-CIO’s Labor Wire stated that “the AFL-CIO always will empower all working people and will stand with Latinos for unity, justice and equality.”

“All working people,” the AFL-CIO went on to state, “regardless of where we were born, must have the freedom to negotiate for a better life so we can raise wages, improve our communities and lift up America.”

This statement is consistent with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka’s statement in early September wherein he heavily criticized U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement that the program of not enforcing immigration law for immigrants who were brought illegally into the U.S. as children would end in six months.

That program is known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (or DACA) and it was put into place as a result of an Executive Order by then-President Barack Obama and, without Congress enacting law to replace the expiring Executive Order, upwards of 800,000 illegal immigrants may face deportation.

Ever since current AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and his predecessor John Sweeney took over the reins of the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest federation of unions has adopted a strategy of pushing for more open immigration, as well as the ability to unionize undocumented immigrants.

For unions inside and outside the AFL-CIO, despite the fact that more immigration often leads to lower wages for native-born workers, the issue of legalizing the estimated 12-14 million undocumented immigrants boils down to politics and money.

As the Leftist Think Progress, however, noted some time ago, “with a receding membership in recent times, unions are aggressively targeting the 22 million immigrant workers in the country, regardless of legal status, to join their ranks.”

Indeed, “some unions now have clauses in their contract that protect against the use of programs like E-Verify and I-9 that could prevent some immigrants from getting jobs in the first place.”

While the AFL-CIO is certainly within its rights to declare that the labor movement is a Latino labor movement, as well as to fight for illegal immigrants’ right to unionize, one might wonder how the unions’ American-born members feel about having their union dues for purposes that may, ultimately, lead to lower standards of living for them.


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