Wednesday, October 31, 2012

North Carolina's Tobacco Workers Stand to Benefit From State's Strong Farmworker Union

By David Bacon, Truthout
October 29, 2012

The occupational hazards, poor working and living conditions, and low wages North Carolina's tobacco workers face result from deliberate policies, but they can be meliorated by unionization and the freedom for laborers to shop their skills around.

North Carolina has one of the lowest percentages of union members in the country. Yet in this non-union bastion, thousands of farmworkers, some of the country's least unionized workers, belong to the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC). That gives the state a greater percentage of unionized farmworkers than almost any other.

The heart of FLOC's membership here are the 6,000 workers brought to North Carolina with H2-A work visas every year to pick the cucumbers that wind up in the pickle jars sold in supermarkets by the Mt. Olive Pickle Company. [...]

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Hot and Crusty Workers to Return to Work under New Ownership after 55-Day Picket

Laundry Workers Center press release
October 26, 2012


CONTACT: Nastaran Mohit (914)557-6408,
CONTACT: Virgilio (347)394-8350, 

Hot and Crusty Workers to Return to Work under New Ownership after 55-Day Picket against Store Closure;
Unions Demands Met With Precedent-Setting 3-Year Contract

New York, NY, October 26, 2012—Ending a 2-month long public campaign to protest an August 31st closure of the 63rd street Hot and Crusty, workers announced today that they have come to a final agreement with the new ownership of the store, following several weeks of negotiations with investors Anthony Illuzzi and David Kay. [...]

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Bernie McFall, ¡Presente!

We are holding a memorial for Bernie on Friday, November 30, 2012, 6:30 pm at the AJ Muste Memorial Institute, 339 Lafayette Street, buzzer 11, New York, NY, at Bleecker Street. (Take the 6 train to Bleecker Street, or the B,D,F or M to Broadway-Lafayette.) Please join us.

Longtime solidarity activist Bernie McFall died of complications from pneumonia in Elmhurst Hospital in Queens on Oct. 16. He was 76 and had been fighting two forms of cancer. [...]

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Unauthorized Aliens’ Access to Federal Benefits: Policy and Issues

By Ruth Ellen Wasem, Specialist in Immigration Policy, Congressional Research Service
September 17, 2012

Federal law bars aliens residing without authorization in the United States from most federal benefits; however, there is a widely held perception that many unauthorized aliens obtain such benefits. The degree to which unauthorized resident aliens should be accorded certain rights and privileges as a result of their residence in the United States, along with the duties owed by such aliens given their presence, remains the subject of debate in Congress. This report focuses on the policy and legislative debate surrounding unauthorized aliens’ access to federal benefits.

Except for a narrow set of specified emergency services and programs, unauthorized aliens are not eligible for federal public benefits. [...]

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Immigrants Are Losing the Policy Fight. But That’s Beside the Point

By Rinku Sen, ColorLines
September 17 2012

Like many others, I’ve worked for years to get Americans to think expansively and compassionately about immigration. In a decade dominated by the push for what’s been dubbed “comprehensive immigration reform,” I’ve argued that immigrants drive economic growth, pay taxes, add value to the culture, and don’t take jobs from native-born people. Although I wasn’t thrilled with the enforcement elements of the policy—that fence, beefing up the Border Patrol, growing detention and deportation—it seemed amazing that Congress was even considering changing the status of as many as 12 million undocumented people. Most of the immigrant rights movement focused on winning that policy, and for a time, it really seemed possible.

That was then. In the spring of 2007, the last decent bill authored by John McCain and Ted Kennedy died in Congress. There have been other bills since, each with more enforcement and less legalization. President Obama’s election seemed a hopeful sign, but he refused to move forward without Republicans and then deported record numbers. The moderate Republican on this issue has become scarce; by 2011, even McCain was claiming that border crossers had started wildfires in the Arizona desert. Democrats too have moved to the right, adopting harsher language and stressing enforcement. The immigrant rights movement, for all its vibrancy and depth, has been losing the policy fight.

That’s because the movement has also been losing the profoundly racialized cultural fight over the nation’s identity, limiting our ability to frame the debate. [...]

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