As President Barack Obama weighs using executive action to reform immigration, those who hope to shape his actions come from a variety of sectors of the country. On this Labor Day, here is a look at what unions and other labor organizations are advocating.
What Labor Wants:
Like many organizations, labor unions want the president to shield as many immigrants as possible from deportation and to give those who can work the chance to do so legally.
But more specifically, leaders of labor unions and workers’ groups say the president should protect immigrant workers who join a union or file official complaints about work conditions.
Officials with the AFL-CIO, made up of 56 unions, said in a recent news conference they want the administration to waive requirements that immigrants be employed to qualify for any immigration relief Obama may authorize. They’d also like protections for immigrants who become authorized to work because of Obama’s actions to prevent them from being fired by employers fearful of enforcement because they employed workers not legally here. They also want protections to prevent senior workers from getting fired once they gain worker beneifts.
In addition, union leaders say short of a deportation deferral, workers in a contentious workplace where immigration is being used to intimidate workers who exercise their rights should be able to apply for some kind of temporary work permit to remove the potential use of intimidation.
Why they want it:
The AFL-CIO estimates that of the approximately 11 million immigrants illegally in the country, about 8 million are in the workforce. Although workers can get deportation deferrals when they have filed civil rights complaints or are involved in a labor dispute, the practice of immigration officials is to grant it after the person has been arrested, which unions and worker protection groups say chills organizing efforts.
Union leaders say protecting immigrant workers serves also to protect American workers from workplace violations such as unsafe conditions and allows all workers to exercise their labor rights.