Wednesday, November 16, 2016

In GOP Country, a Small Labor Organization Offers a Model for Fighting Trumpism

The Workers’ Project in Indiana has been uniting undocumented immigrants with white union workers since long before Trump hit the campaign trail.

By Sarah Jaffe, The Nation
November 4, 2016

Ten years ago, before Donald Trump made anti-immigrant scapegoating into popular politics, a group of organizers in Fort Wayne, Indiana, were trying to figure out how to bridge the divide between white workers and undocumented Latino workers.

Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) had hired a construction company that used some union labor and some non-union, undocumented workers to helm an expansion project. The unions involved reached out for help to the Workers’ Project, at the time an initiative of the Northeast Indiana Central Labor Council (CLC), to represent workers who weren’t formally members of the council’s member unions. The unions had planned a campaign under the banner of “Local Jobs for Local People,” but Workers’ Project co-founders Tom Lewandowski, at the time president of the CLC, and Mike Lauer, director of the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters, argued against this framing—it would contribute to xenophobia, to us-against-them thinking. Instead, Lewandowski says, “Our operational theme for this campaign was going to be, ‘If they’re getting fucked, we’re getting fucked.’”[...]

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