United Food and Commercial Workers International Union supports illegal immigration, opposes "no match"

On a dark, stormy night, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union ("UFCW") released the following press release (link) about the DHS' new "no match" requirements regarding Social Security numbers. Not only are they encouraging the Bush administration to be even worse than they are now by turning a blind eye to massive illegal immigration, it may contain a false charge (bolded):
On a hot, quiet August morning in Washington, DC - when the President is on vacation and Congress at recess - the Bush Administration announced an immigration reform package that essentially mandates federal racial discrimination.

The Administration's guidelines would throw the doors open to racial discrimination to whole classes of people by placing an undue burden on workers who sound foreign, look foreign and particularly, on the tens of millions of Hispanic and Asian-Americans who would face greater scrutiny in the workplace. It is irresponsible to toss out civil rights for the sake of political gamesmanship.

...Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has proven by its past behavior that it is not beyond their scope to traumatize innocent workers, including U.S. citizens, under the guise of immigration enforcement. During its raids at Swift meatpacking plants last December, all workers, including citizens, legal residents, were held by ICE agents and subjected to unlawful search and seizure.


The writer might be startled to discover that those who sound foreign and look foreign may in fact _be_ foreign. What a surprise!

A long time ago, unions fought for the rights of U.S. workers. Now they fight for the rights of scabs.

You guys are way off base on saying that UFCW is fighting for the rights of "scabs" by opposing Bush's immigration policies. The fact is that capital and corporations are global, but labor is restricted within national border (which is why we are all getting screwed). UFCW knows that instead of keeping immigrants under the thumb of the boss, it is better to give them a way to organize, so that they aren't used to break the living standards of native workers. Furthermore the original author makes that charge that UFCW's claim about "unlawful search and seizure" is false. Yet he offers us no explanation, proof, or even opinion to back it up.

Wrong, Andy! Flooding the market with cheap foreign labor will just further depress wages for working people in the US. Supply and demand - simple arithmetic. Illegal immigrants - and many legal immigrants for that matter - are nothing more than the tools that the biz interests are using to drive US wages closer to the third-world level. Allowing as many as want to come to the US is suicide for working and middle class Americans.

What UCFW is calling for, of course, is de facto amnesty. Any attempt to enforce immigration laws in the workplace is (according to them) "racial profiling" becuase the vast majority of immigrants are nonwhite. Their concept of "civil rights" grants the civil rights of US citizens to the ENTIRE WORLD, thus nullifying the concepts of citizenship and national sovereignity. The inevitable result is that the nation itself is effectively destroyed and the rule of the people(what remains of it) is replaced by the plutocratic rule of multinational corporations. But the real concern of the UCFW (cloaked in Gramscian rhetoric) is the extraction of union dues from their near minimum wage workers and giving them nothing but treasonous press releases in return.

So what will you all call the harassment that many non-white citizens will face under this policy? No one is calling for US civil rights "to the ENTIRE WORLD." Just for people within the sovereign borders of the US. If you are truly interested in fighting "the plutocratic rule of multinational corporations," then promote solidarity among the people such institutions exploit. Also supporting social justice movements in countries like Mexico, that US elites regularly help crush through the support of violation of human rights in client states, would go a long way to ending the irresistible market forces that drive illegal immigration.

_No one is calling for US civil rights "to the ENTIRE WORLD." Just for people within the sovereign borders of the US._ So anyone who manages to sneak across the border or overstay a visa or work illegally in violation of the terms of a tourist visa becomes a de facto US citizen? This means that potentially that anyone in the ENTIRE WORLD outside the US can gain the rights of US citizenship by committing an illegal act in violation of US sovereignty. _If you are truly interested in fighting "the plutocratic rule of multinational corporations," then promote solidarity among the people such institutions exploit._ _Also supporting social justice movements in countries like Mexico, that US elites regularly help crush through the support of violation of human rights in client states, would go a long way to ending the irresistible market forces that drive illegal immigration._ I'm a noninterventionist and not an advocate of "permanent revoltion" either of the Trotskyite or neocon variety. Mexico is not a client state of the US; the Mexican elites have proved themselves to be perfectly capable of stealing from and repressing their own people with no assistance from the US. Go to Mexico and protest the rapaciousness of telecom monopolist (and world's richest man) Carlos Slim and see how long you last before you are deported. This is assumimg that you are not a Mexican citizen. Your position is moronic leftism of the most risible sort. It implies that all the bad regimes in the world are there solely because they are "propped up" by the US. Actually, of course, little Bushes and Cheneys (and worse) exist in every culture and when they obtain power they normally do so without any machinations by the US govt or US business. I can think, for example, of one particularly odious dictator (Robert Mugabe) who owes his job primarily to the "progressive" and "anti-racist" elements who support "solidarity" movements. And back when Mugabe was given power the worldwide leader of "solidarity" movements was the most genocidal nation in the history of the world, the Soviet Union.

Expat, Okay first of all calling my position "moronic" is nothing more base name calling that doesn't serve any discussion or debate of the issues. The idea that Mexico is not beholding to its most powerful neighbor, I find remarkably naive. For sure the Mexican oligarchy is not just following orders from up North, but there are strong ties that are decidedly favor US elite interests. That isn't to say that NAFTA doesn't benefit rich Mexicans, but the mammoth economic power of the US dominates the system. I never once said that the US was solely responsible for the various dictatorships, and oligarchies of the world; but as the world's lone superpower we have influence and power which we wield selfishly. Which means that we do bear some responsibility for the flow of labor over the border unregulated. As a conservative I thought that you might be able to recognize market forces that are unlikely to be muted by fences of deportations; except for on a police state level that would be totally unacceptable to us as Americans. But maybe I was wrong to make that assumptions.

I don't question for a minute that US elites, including the Clintons, have helped make life very unpleasant for the working people of Mexico - as well as the US - via NAFTA among other things. However I don't see how allowing a massive invasion of workers into the US to push US workers out of jobs and to lower US workers' wages - especially workers with the least education and job prospects - is helpful to these US workers. This invasion doesn't hurt the elites - far from it. They profit! It hurts the least powerful US workers. We are told constantly to look at unemployment rates. Forget that. Look at EMPLOYMENT rates instead. The simple fact is that EMPLOYMENT rates for US workers, especially those with less education (HS or less and especially black workers and young workers) are the lowest they've been in decades. The Center for Immigration Studies recently (Spring 2007) released a report, noting that: "Common sense, economic theory, and a fair reading of the research on this question indicate that allowing in so many immigrants (legal and illegal) with relatively little education reduces the wages and job prospects for Americans with little education. These are the Americans who are already the poorest workers. Between 2000 and 2005, the number of jobless natives (age 18 to 64) with no education beyond a high school degree increased by over two million, to 23 million, according to the Current Population Survey. During the same period, the number of less-educated immigrants (legal and illegal) holding a job grew 1.5 million. Of greater concern, the percentage of employed native-born without a high school degree fell from 53 to 48 percent in the last five years. African Americans have particularly been affected. A September 2006 National Bureau of Economic Research paper found that immigration accounted for about a third of the decline in the employment rate of the least-educated African American men over the last few decades. The disproportionate flow of undereducated immigrants to the U.S. has also depressed wages for native-born workers on the lower rungs of the economic ladder. In the last two-and-a-half decades, average hourly wages for male workers with less than a high school education declined more than 20 percent relative to inflation. For those with only a high school degree they are down almost 10 percent." In particular, businesses seem to be unwilling to give young less educated citizens that first all-important job that actually places him or her on the ladder of upward mobility. You can't climb the ladder if you aren't even on the first rung. Again it's basic Econ 101: The more workers chasing employment, the less a business needs to pay to be fully staffed. If you try to fully "organize" these workers, all the biz has to do is contract the work out. That is exactly what happened to a lot of unionized black janitors AND a whole lot of slaughterhouse workers (UFCW members). They found their jobs

You guys are right on the money to assert that the Dems are just as much at fault for the state of immigration in this country, and that in the end it is the elite class the benefits the most from undocumented workers. What I am saying, is not that we should have unfettered immigration, but that it is insane to expect that enforcement will solve this problem (unless of course you are advocating for a harsh police state). It requires us to look at the whole problem, a big part of which is 1) economic realities in Mexico, 2) the willingness of employers here in the US to hire undocumented workers, and 3) the pressures that globalized capital put on the wages of workers everywhere. National sovereignty means much less to corporations and investment money than ever before. Is it any wonder that the working class feels the same.

Andrew, So how would enforcing basic U.S. labor laws not discourage U.S. employers from hiring "undocumented" workers? A few decades or so ago we did just that and I don't seem to remember it as a "harsh police state." In fact, back then, labor laws were something unions were in favor of. BTW: Thanks for proving my point: unions are now more concerned with the rights of foreign workers than they are with U.S. workers. Out of curiosity, what do you do for a living?

I cut meat at a grocery store. My point about enforcement is that with 12 million+ undocumented workers in the US in order to enforce the immigration laws you would need a tremendous police apparatus. You're right that unions used to be in favor of strict immigration laws (many of them still do). That, I think was a short sighted position that allowed the current system to evolve. It gave the boss the power of a demographic that he could use to break and bust unions. Which is why I was pleasantly surprised at UFCW's position on immigration.

Well, AH, if you cut meat in a grocery store, you should know all about how slaugherhouse work used to be some of the best paid blue-collar work in the US until companies used a non-union, cheap, often illegal alien work-force to wipe all that out. It's well presented in "Fast Food Nation" and Roy Beck's testimony before congress. I read recently that one of the issues that the Chage to Win unions had failed to agree upon is immigration. The Teamsters' James Hoffa has to know that allowing tens of thousands of LEGAL Mexican truckers on US roads will hit his members hard. He's right. After all the construction trades have seen their workers' wages DECLINE during the biggest building boom in 50+ years. Why? A flood of cheap foreign labor - often, but by no means entirely, illegal. Same with slaughterhouse work. You don't have to use police state tactics against illegal aliens to get them to leave. Simply enforce the law, especially against businesses who hire them. GWB surely doesn't have a good record on enforcement but his so far feeble attempts are starting to have effects. Fewer are crossing and more are going home. This is what we need on a massive scale - attrition through enforcement. And when they get home, I want them to tell those still there not to make the trip north because it isn't worth it.

D Flinchum, At one point you say that we don't need "police state tactics" then you say the "we need on a massive scale-attrition through enforcement." Those are conflicting statements if we are going to take your enforcement position seriously. As far as the packing house point, UFCW historically bears responsibility for that (look into the P-9 Hormel strike in the 1980s), and part of that stemmed from their refusal to try to organize immigrants. Look, solidarity is the ultimate base of the labor movement, amongst workers. You can't sell that out and win.

How in the world is ENFORCING THE LAW equated with police state tactics? All we are saying is enforce the law AS IT HAS EXISTED FOR 20+ YEARS. People who are here illegally should be denied employment. Then most of them will leave because that is why most of them come here. All other functioning countries, including Mexico, do this now. I think you are out of touch with reality, AH. Allowing a continuing massive flow of workers into the US - legal or illegal - will be the death of both any semblance of the union movement in the US and of a viable middle class. The rank and file union members understand this even if the "leadership" sometimes doesn't.

D Flinchum When have I said that we shouldn't enforce the law? What I am saying is that we have an economic system that depends on undocumented workers. And instead of blaming the boss for how he runs is business, you all want to blame workers that are just trying to find a way to care for their families, and possibly create a better lives for themselves. Also your "just enforce the law" position is completely unfeasable in the face of 12 million+ undocumented workers; that is unless (for the 4th or 5th time) you institute a massive police state apparatus to bust, and deport them. Finally, if any such enforcement system would be implemented, it would inevitably result in injustices, both from mistakes, and from just the human costs of ripping communities apart. That has already happened with the ICE raids where children were left parentless, their babysitters forced to watch them for days on end, and then the kids ended up in immigration prison along side their parents. Take a look at the human cost for the simple "you broke the law" philosophy.

'My point about enforcement is that with 12 million+ undocumented workers in the US in order to enforce the immigration laws you would need a tremendous police apparatus.' Maybe less than you think. A little deterrence can go a long way. The message will get back to the countries of origin and fewer will come. Make the employer penalties severe enough and they will think twice. The penalty needs to go way beyond 'cost of doing business'. If egregious, you will be OUT of business and doing time. Think of the IRS as the analogy . There is certainly not 100% compliance but even as limited as they are in terms of audit rate, they achieve decent compliance.

Amanda, Don't ignore the fact that there are over 12 million undocumented workers already living here. Many of them with families and roots in this country. Deterrence is not going to work with them, that is unless (and once again I make this point) we create a massive and most likely cruel police apparatus to instill the type of terror that it would take to get such people to leave. That would most certainly net innocent Americans, and legal immigrants. Such wide spread state repression would also foster attitudes of bigotry and racism against Latinos.

I live in Costa Rica and the message is getting around via TV that the the US is no longer that hospitable to illegal entries and this is acting as a deterrent. Many Mexicans are reported to be returning home. No one expects ZERO illegal aliens to be residing in the US, but radically reducing the inflow and substantially reducing the numbers already in the US is a worthwhile goal. The act of protecting the self-interest of the nation is someting that is respected around the globe-aside from some enclaves of neo-marxist academics in North America and Western Europe. And someting a world apart from the mindless jingoism that perpetuates the Iraq adventure. just take a look at this and weep: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmGFVLZC3os

i think thats not fair even my family born here i dont think is fair that youre deporting innocet people who jut came to work and do not mess with anybody as other people does even they belong to this country