Sunday, April 26, 2015

Continuing the Crackdown on Kids

The "Biden Plan" for Central America treats refugee children as a national security threat.

By Laura Carlsen, Foreign Policy in Focus
March 31, 2015

When the crisis of unaccompanied minors migrating to the United States burst onto the front pages last summer, it seemed at last the U.S. government would come to grips with its legacy of disaster amid the current havoc in Central America.

The United Nations documented that most of the children were fleeing violence — violence caused in part by the failure to restore constitutional order following the Honduran coup of 2009 and the unfinished peace processes after the dirty wars in El Salvador and Guatemala, where Washington propped up right-wing dictatorships for years.

The governments of those three countries — known as the Northern Triangle — certainly share some of the blame for the mass exodus, which is not as new or unprecedented as the press made out when it sounded the alarm.

But in the end, the problem isn’t one of assigning blame, but rather helping children in conditions of extreme vulnerability, right?

Apparently not.[...]

Read the full article:

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Dim Sum Revolution

How a brigade of kitchen workers got back what had been stolen from them, and then some.

By Vanessa Hua, San Francisco Magazine
March 30, 2015

Even after Zhen LI leads a rousing chant—“Workers organize, everybody wins!”—no one else wants to step up to the microphone. Tiny and bespectacled, her hair in a jet-black bob, Li has the look of a Chinatown matron, one of those tenacious hagglers who elbows her way through the crowds on Stockton Street to purchase jade-green gai lan and silvery carp. Wearing jeans, sturdy black shoes, and a puffy striped jacket, she exhorts her fellow proletarians to join her up front and holds out the mic to a nearby woman. The woman tries to beg off, pleading, “I’m sick—my throat hurts,” but cheers draw her to her feet, and she sheepishly echoes Li’s rallying cry.

On this rainy evening in early December at the Chinese Cultural Center, Li and dozens of workers—mostly women, mostly middle-aged and older— are celebrating with greasy takeout, cake, a slideshow, and speeches. While some are clearly shy about speaking in public, they are no longer scared. They’ve already achieved the impossible: Their solidarity has won them an astonishing sum—$4 million—from a powerful employer that had systematically undercut their wages, pocketed their tips, and forced them to work under brutal conditions.[...]

Read the full article:

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Walmart Seeking Foreign Guest Workers To Fill U.S. Tech Jobs, AFL-CIO Finds

By Dave Jamieson, Huffington Post
April 1, 2015

Walmart is famous for keeping labor costs down inside its more than 5,000 brick-and-mortar U.S. stores. According to a new report from the AFL-CIO, the world's largest retailer may have found a way to save money on its tech workers in the U.S., too.

Researchers at the labor federation found that Walmart has been submitting a growing number of applications for H-1B visas with the federal government. Such visas let U.S. companies employ foreign workers here temporarily, often in high-tech capacities and at lower wages than their American counterparts would typically fetch.

According to the research paper, Walmart filed 1,800 petitions for H-1B visas over the last eight years, with the annual number increasing from 79 in 2007 up to 513 in 2014. Over the same period, offshore outsourcing firms have filed nearly 15,000 such petitions for work in Bentonville, Arkansas, Walmart's corporate home. That includes companies such as Infosys and Cognizant, IT service firms that are among the top H-1B users.[...]

Read the full article:

Monday, April 6, 2015

Dozens of Mothers Stage Hunger Strike at Immigrant Detention Center in Texas

'We want freedom for our children. It’s not right to continue to detain us.'

By Nadia Prupis, Common Dreams
April 2, 2015

About 40 women being held at the privately-run Karnes Family Detention Center in southern Texas launched a hunger strike this week to demand their release and the release of their families, vowing on Tuesday not to eat, work, or use the services at the facility until they are freed.

Nearly 80 women being held at the center, many of whom are said to be asylum seekers from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, signed a letter stating that they have all been refused bond despite having established a credible fear of violence if they are sent back to Central America—a key factor in the U.S. government's process for screening detained immigrants to allow them amnesty.[...]

Read the full article:

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Review: In ‘The Hand That Feeds,’ Workers Rise Up at a Hot & Crusty

By Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times 
April 2, 2015

Films about labor relations don’t always need the massive scale of “Harlan County, U.S.A.” (1976), which watched a miners’ strike unfold. The advocacy documentary “The Hand That Feeds” chronicles organizing efforts at a Hot & Crusty on Second Avenue at 63rd Street in Manhattan. (Some material shot for the film was adapted into a New York Times Op-Doc in 2013.)[...]

Read the full review:

For more reviews:

The film opens in New York on April 3 at the Cinema Village, located at 22 East 12th Street.
For more information:
212-924-3363 .

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Florida no longer safe haven for war criminals as US prosecutors take action

Accused human rights abuser Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova, 77, moves closer to deportation in likely precedent for future cases in Sunshine State

By Richard Luscombe, The Guardian
March 23, 2015

As one of an estimated 3.6 million senior citizens living in Florida, Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova found the perfect place to hide in plain sight. From shopping trips with his wife Lourdes in the upscale malls of Daytona Beach to gourmet meals at popular restaurants, he appeared to be just another septuagenerian enjoying the good life in the country’s favourite retirement playground.

Vides, however, was guarding a secret. The smartly dressed pensioner was once an army general and defence minister in El Salvador during a bloody 12-year civil war in the 1980s, and he stands accused of covering up a series of atrocities, including the rape and murder of four American churchwomen.[...]

Read the full article:

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Debunking the Myth of the Job-Stealing Immigrant

[This article has circulated widely among immigrant rights supporters. It makes some good points, but readers should keep the author's orientation in mind and think about why he's now interested in immigration. Davidson is a professional apologist for neoliberal economic policies, sweatshops, charter cities, etc. One of the people he cites, Giovanni Peri, is an advocate of guest worker programs, which he wants implemented without "the government micromanag[ing] permits, rules and limits." See the articles linked to after Davidson's piece.--TPOI]

By Adam Davidson, New York Times
March 24, 2015

When I was growing up in the 1980s, I watched my grandfather — my dad’s stepdad — struggle with his own prejudice. He was a blue-collar World War II veteran who loved his family above all things and was constantly afraid for them. He carried a gun and, like many men of his generation, saw threats in people he didn’t understand: African-Americans, independent women, gays. By the time he died, 10 years ago, he had softened. He stopped using racist and homophobic slurs; he even hugged my gay cousin. But there was one view he wasn’t going to change. He had no time for Hispanics, he told us, and he wasn’t backing down. After all, this wasn’t a matter of bigotry. It was plain economics. These immigrants were stealing jobs from “Americans.”

I’ve been thinking about my grandfather lately, because there are signs that 2015 could bring about the beginning of a truce — or at least a reconfiguration — in the politics of immigration. Several of the potential Republican presidential candidates, most notably Jeb Bush, have expressed pro-immigration views. Even self-identified Tea Party Republicans respond three to two in favor of a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Every other group — Republicans in general, independents and especially Democrats — is largely pro-immigrant. According to Pew, roughly as many people (18 percent of Americans) believed in 2010 that President Obama was a Muslim as believe today that undocumented immigrants should be expelled from the United States. Of course, that 18 percent can make a lot of noise. But for everyone else, immigration seems to be going the way of same-sex marriage, marijuana and the mohawk — it’s something that a handful of people freak out about but that the rest of us have long since come to accept.[...]

Read the full article:

For information on Davidson:

For Peri on guest workers: